Policies in Canada regarding cannabis could always use an update as the industry progresses and changes. Obviously, there have been several positive outcomes from legalization. It has resulted in the emergence of a multibillion-dollar industry, new jobs and tax revenue, to name a few. There have also been fewer cannabis-related drug convictions among young people. Cannabis is one of the most widely used substances in Canada with nearly half of Canadians reporting having used it at some time in their lives. So of course when it became legalized there had to be policies and regulations that everyone could follow- hence the Cannabis Act. Its three main objectives were to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth, to keep profits out of the pockets of criminals, and to protect public health and safety by allowing adults access to legal cannabis. Some of the important regulations the act will allow are:
- Adults to grow as much as four cannabis plants per household for personal use
- Adults to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis
- Individuals who are 18 years of age to purchase and use marijuana
- Provincial governments to devise a regulatory regime for the licensed production of cannabis
- New provisions to address drug-impaired driving
Regulations by Province
It’s safe to say that cannabis use is up in consumption since legalization back in 2018. According to Statistics Canada, 2021 brought in over $3,900 million and it is a billion-dollar industry, worldwide. Provinces and territories are responsible for developing, implementing, maintaining and enforcing systems to oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis. All provinces allow a public possession limit of 30 grams of dried cannabis or equivalent. Quebec has a legal age limit of 21, while Alberta is the lowest at 18, and the rest of the provinces fall at 19 years of age. All provinces, excluding Quebec, allow growing at home for personal use. Here is a rundown of the provinces that permit and don’t permit consuming cannabis in public:
Alberta: Only where tobacco may be smoked.
Ontario: Yes, only where tobacco is smoked, with the exception of vehicles.
Quebec: No, formerly anywhere tobacco can be smoked.
New Brunswick: Yes, anywhere tobacco can be smoked.
Use and Consumption at Work
Employers can set rules against alcohol and tobacco consumption in the workplace. Likewise, employers have the right to devise cannabis workplace policies regulating the non-medical use of marijuana. Most companies need to update their policies when it comes to cannabis and the workplace. Individuals in Ontario who suffer from medical disabilities are legally able to consume edibles for the purpose of their condition, as long as it doesn’t directly interfere with their work abilities.
Under the Canadian Human Rights Act, employers have the obligation to accommodate to the point of undue hardship an employee who has identified as having a disease, injury or disability, including substance dependence and medical authorizations to use cannabis for medical purposes. It is a fine line but those who require it for certain health conditions are protected.
Just like alcohol and cigarettes, cannabis has age restrictions and the packaging needs to be designed to look basic, not appealing to a youthful eye. There are also two criminal offences related to providing cannabis to youth, with maximum penalties of 14 years in jail:
- Giving or selling cannabis to youth
- Using a youth to commit a cannabis-related offence
Public Health Concerns
Much of the concerns around legalizing cannabis circle around health risks and addiction, along with potential increased cases of cannabis-induced psychosis or schizophrenia, and driving under the influence of drugs. Studies have suggested there is no significant effect since legalization. There are constant efforts underway to raise awareness about safety measures and any potential health risks for consumers. Furthermore, there are always strict requirements for producers who grow and manufacture cannabis in Canada.
Criminal Activity and Penalties
While sales for marijuana continue to rise, the amount of criminal activity has greatly decreased, and criminal activity in youth-related marijuana offences has also dropped dramatically. Some offences and penalties include:
- Possession over the limit – Tickets for small amounts up to 5 years less a day in jail
- Illegal distribution or sale – Tickets for small amounts up to 14 years in jail
- Producing cannabis beyond personal cultivation limits – Tickets for small amounts up to 14 years in jail
This is just the tip of the regulations when it comes to cannabis consumption. There can be more found on licenses for use, travel, and other important areas. It is best to know as much as you can to protect yourself and with a bit of digging there is information out there to keep you in the know.