The use of recreational cannabis in Canada was legalized several years ago, but many people remain unaware of what is safe and what is against the law. Meanwhile, the Canadian Cannabis Act sets up specific rules related to buying, selling, consuming, possessing, or growing pot in Canada, further modified by the provincial, territorial, and municipal regulations.
Using cannabis in Canada in violation of the Cannabis Act is a criminal offence punishable under the Criminal Code, calling for the involvement of an experienced drug offence lawyer. Each province has their own restrictions as to the legal age to buy, possess, and consume cannabis, including zero tolerance for cannabis-impaired driving. The are many other rules for legal weed, smoking marijuana in public, growing pot, access to cannabis for medical purposes, and other aspects of cannabis use in Canada.
Rules Around Legal Weed Vary from Province to Province: Laws in Your Area
Cannabis growing, use, and sales in Canada are regulated by federal law. Meanwhile, provinces and territories each have their own set of restrictions, and it is each person’s responsibility to know what is legal in their province or territory. It is always advisable to consult with a drug lawyer or check the provincial or territorial website for more details on provincial restrictions for cannabis use.
Both use and distribution of cannabis in Ontario are regulated by the Cannabis Act 2017. Unlike federal requirements of setting the legal age at 18, provincial law in Ontario defines the legal age as 19 years.
In Ontario, it is legal to buy dried cannabis or cannabis products in private licensed brick-and-mortar stores or government-operated online store. Unlike some other provinces, there is currently only one online store selling cannabis products in Ontario.
Similar to most other provinces, adults in Ontario can buy, possess, and carry up to 30g of dried cannabis or its equivalent. The equivalents for dried, fresh, solid, and non-solid cannabis, as well as cannabis concentrates and seeds, are provided in Schedule 3 of the federal Cannabis Act. For public convenience, the government of Canada has published an online calculator on their website to calculate the limits for public possession of cannabis.
Legal Cannabis Products
In Canada, it is legal to buy several types of cannabis products, including edibles, extracts, and topicals.
Edible cannabis products can be either foods or drinks, such as weed gummies, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) infused baked goods, lollipops, and other edible and drinkable choices infused with marijuana or filled with hash oil.
Cannabis extracts include concentrated THC and CBD liquid obtained from cannabis plants. These products include liquid for inhaling through vaping devices or ingesting in capsules.
Cannabis topicals include products applied on skin, hair or nails. These products come in various forms and include cannabis-infused shampoos, soaps, balms, oils, patches, lotions, and etc.
Right to Smoke Marijuana in Public
Provinces and territories have different rules for cannabis smoking in public. In Ontario, the smoking of cannabis is regulated by the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (SFOA), including its updates and amendments.
With regard to public places in Ontario, it is legal to smoke and vape cannabis in:
- many outdoor public places, such as sidewalks and parks,
- designated guest rooms in hotels and similar accommodations,
- controlled areas in retirement homes and similar facilities.
The list of prohibited places for smoking or vaping recreational and medical cannabis is much more extensive, and includes:
- workplaces, including work vehicles,
- indoor public places,
- indoor common areas in residential and other buildings,
- restaurants and bar patios, and within 9 metres of a patio,
- outdoor areas of the Ontario government office buildings,
- playgrounds, sporting areas (excluding private golf courses), and spaces within 20 metres of those areas,
- hospitals and outdoor grounds of hospitals, and within 9 metres of hospital entrance,
- community recreational grounds or within 20 metres of those grounds,
- schools, school grounds, and within 20 metres of those grounds,
- vehicles and boat being driven or that will be driven,
- sheltered outdoor areas with more than two walls and a roof frequented by the public (for example, a bus stop).
What Can I Take While Traveling?
It is allowed to possess up to 30g of dried cannabis or its equivalent while travelling within Canada. Meanwhile, travellers should observe minimum age requirements for cannabis use in each province and territory in Canada they are in.
It is illegal to bring cannabis when crossing the Canadian border, including for medical purposes, whether you are entering or leaving the country. It should also be remembered that previous use of cannabis could pose the risk of being denied entry into the United States.
Rules Around Driving
It is a proven fact that the use of cannabis impairs the ability to operate a vehicle, affecting reaction, judgement, and coordination. The effects of cannabis can vary, and there is no standard waiting time before it is safe to drive.
According to the Criminal Law of Canada, there are three different criminal offences related to cannabis-impaired driving:
- driving with 2 nanograms (ng) to 5ng of THC per ml of blood
- driving with more than 5ng of THC per ml of blood
- driving with a combination of above 2.5ng of THC and more than 50mg of alcohol per ml of blood
The penalties for the above offences start from a fine of up to $1,000. In the absence of bodily harm, the penalties can also include mandatory minimum imprisonment sentences up to 120 days and imprisonment up to 5 years.
If drug-impaired driving has resulted in bodily harm, the driver faces up to 10 years of imprisonment. Meanwhile, drug-induced accidents causing death can result in life imprisonment.
It should be remembered that different provinces can maintain local restrictions, so it is advisable to check for provincial drugged driving laws or consult with a lawyer for drug cases. For example, Ontario has zero-tolerance for young drivers who are 21 or under, novice drivers, and commercial drivers.
According to the Cannabis Act, adult Canadians can grow up to four cannabis plants per residence for their personal use. The seeds must be purchased from authorized stores in quantities not exceeding the allowed limits.
If you are contemplating whether or not to grow cannabis in your rented residence, be sure to consult with your lease agreement and discuss it with your landlord. Even though growing cannabis for personal use is legal, landlords can set up rules forbidding tenants from a growing pot in their homes.
Access for Cannabis for Medical Purposes
Patients who have been authorized to use cannabis for medical reasons by their health care professional have the same access rights as before the legalization of recreational cannabis. They can purchase medical cannabis from a federally licensed producer online, by written order, or over the phone.
Such individuals can also designate someone else to grow cannabis on their behalf or receive a license from Health Canada to grow on their own. Unlike those who grow cannabis for recreational purposes and are limited by four plants per household, medical patients can grow more plants under a personal production license. Meanwhile, it is worth remembering that the rules for smoking medical cannabis are similar to those for recreational cannabis in Ontario.
Cannabis legalization in Canada does not mean that individuals are now free to buy, sell, possess, or carry cannabis in any quantity or consume it everywhere they want. It also doesn’t make Canadians exempt from the rules applied by the U.S. Border Patrol, which means that any Canadian admitting that they have ever smoked legal weed in Canada can be denied entry in the United States.
These rules for possessing, consuming, buying, selling, and growing recreational and medical cannabis in Canada are valid on the date of publishing this report. If you have other questions, need a consultation on your particular situation, or are facing drug charges in Canada, please do not hesitate to contact Toronto-based drug case lawyers from Vilkhov Law as early as possible.