It’s finally legal. The clock strikes 4:20 and I can smoke up anywhere I want. Or can I? Unfortunately, you can’t just walk around with your bong and light up just anywhere. The government has a few regulations in place that many of us are not fully aware of. If you don’t want to get fined, keep reading for some Cannabis law in Canada.
A fun fact many may not know, medical cannabis has been legal for about 20 years in Canada. The medical cannabis sector is currently governed under Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). This sector takes care of individuals who qualify for use of medical cannabis, recommendations for conditions, how to authorize it and who can produce/ provide it. This sector was established in 2001 under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR). The program was established to understand who needs medical cannabis, and how they could access it. This act was set to end by 2014 as Health Canada stated there was mass misuse of the program. It was then amended to Marihuana for Medical Purposes (MMPR) program in 2013 and the rules enforced were stricter. Fast forward to Oct 17th, 2018, The Cannabis Act was born. With the birth of Cannabis legalization, we as Canadians were granted access to clean, tested, safe cannabis products from government-regulated organizations. This legalization was set in place to stop the war on drugs. Health Canada wants to end the black market drug industry at all costs to “protect the children”. Of course, we want to protect the children, and this protection starts with conversations breaking the stigma around cannabis and its use. Education and awareness is everything.
The rules vary based on provincial and territorial restrictions. In Ontario, adults who are 18 years of age or older are legally able to do the following:
- Carry up to 30 grams of legal cannabis in public on your person
- Share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults
- Buy dried or fresh cannabis and cannabis oil from a provincially-licensed retailer
- Purchase Cannabis online from federally-licensed producers or government distributors (The Ontario Cannabis Store)
- From licensed seed or seedlings, grow up to 4 cannabis plants per residence for personal use (4 plants can yield up to 4 pounds. That 1 pound a plant – a great money saver if you consume a lot of cannabis or use it or other purposes)
- Make cannabis products such as food and drinks at home as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products
- As of October 17, 2019, cannabis edible products and concentrates are legal for sale and available now.
Care for kids
Within The Cannabis Act, there is a set of rules to keep kids from accessing cannabis, such as age restrictions and restricted marketing and advertising of cannabis. As a result of the care for the kiddies, similar to alcohol and tobacco NO ONE can sell or provide cannabis to anyone under the age of 18. You can face jail time for selling or giving cannabis to a minor. You can also go to jail for coercing a youth to carry out a cannabis-related offense. The restriction of marketing and advertising was enforced to help discourage youth from products that may be appealing to them. This is done by forbidding brands from having appealing labeling or packaging, allowing self serve access like vending machines. The promotion of cannabis must only be in areas where children are prohibited, i.e age-gated websites. No peeking kiddies! This is grown-up stuff! Keep in mind, if you get caught breaking any of these rules you can face a fine of up to 5$ million or 3 years jail time. No thank you! So don’t entice the kiddies. Teach them to be safe. They are the future after all!
What’s not allowed?
Do NOT use cannabis and drive. Driving high after consuming cannabis increases your chance of being in a motor vehicle accident. There is no actual wait time for safe driving, so it’s best not to drive at all, or at least get DD for such occasion. The age group most likely to drive after using cannabis is around 15-19 years old. Let’s help change that statistic! (The law has zero-tolerance for impaired drivers and those under age 22 years). Research shows that using cannabis can slow your reaction time like a turtle, shorten your attention span and concentration… wait, squirrel! It can also weaken your motor coordination and get you discombobulated, reduce your ability to effectively make proper decisions and impairs your ability to judge distances and time. If you purchase cannabis at a regulated retail store and you are getting in your motor vehicle make sure to put your products in your trunk. Just like alcohol, it cannot be at arms reach while driving. You can now freely consume cannabis in public, but not everywhere in public! You must be 9 meters away from any office building or storefront and be in the designated smoking area where tobacco smoking is permitted. So that means no schools, no parks, no playgrounds, not all sidewalks, no patios, and nowhere where children could possibly be present.
This seems like a lot to learn and the Government is learning too! This is a brand new era that will go through growing pains just like the alcohol and tobacco industry did. The rules will loosen up (hopefully) but we should be on our best behavior to get there. This conversation we are creating continues to assist us in exploring our relationship with cannabis, using tips and tools to reduce harms, educate and bring awareness, no matter where you stand, there is plenty more in store for you.
As always smoke responsibly and smoke in moderation!