While Canada has officially legalized cannabis, you can still face significant fines and even jail time for breaking a myriad of regulations that vary from province to province. That’s because the Cannabis Act, the federal legislation that legalized recreational cannabis Canada-wide, only laid the groundwork and each individual province had the choice to either go with what the feds recommended, or go stricter.
If you’re confused by Canada’s “crazy quilt” cannabis laws, this video from The Mix Society provides some much needed clarity.
I need to be how old?
Let’s start with the legal age. In the Cannabis Act, it says that you have to be at least 18 to use/purchase/buy cannabis, but in reality, the only provinces that actually have it set at 18 are Alberta and Quebec. Everywhere else, you have to be at least 19. This aligns with the provincial drinking ages, with the exception of Manitoba- you can drink at 18, but have to be 19 to use cannabis.
Now let’s look at your retail options. The video mentions BC, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, and Saskatchewan will allow private retail, and it should be noted that Ontario recently announced it would go private, too. The only bad news for Ontarians is that brick-and-mortar cannabis stores aren’t expected until April 2019.
What about home cultivation and smoking in public?
When it comes to home cultivation, it’s banned in Nunavut, Manitoba, and Quebec, while most places will allow up to 4 plants but the details vary. The video also recommends when smoking to cannabis:
“It’s safer to stick to private properties and residences”.
Which is a great piece of advice since it’s better to be safe than sorry, although some provinces are more lenient than others, such as allowing cannabis consumption anywhere that tobacco is- which ultimately means you can’t just spark up anywhere you like. Even though it’s legal now, smoking a joint will still be banned in many public areas and parks, although now you probably won’t be arrested and/or charged- you’ll likely have to pay a fine.
Online sales will mainly be controlled by the governments, although there are many online dispensaries out there operating in the grey market, supplying Canadians from all across the country.
It’s funny that the black market is still humming along smoothly, while the legal, government-controlled cannabis regime is experiencing frequent shortages that could last for years!
I can carry how much?
Up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, and you can even take that on a plane! The only catch is it’s for domestic flights only. If you take 30 grams with you on an international flight, you could end up in jail or worse!
Legalization has put Canada in headlines around the world, and Canadian travelers should be aware that customs officials may be on high alert.
Singapore has warned travelers that customs officials have the authority to conduct drug tests, and if you test positive for cannabis, you could be going to jail- even if you don’t have any cannabis on you!