Despite the fast approach of cannabis legalization in Canada, laws surrounding the drug remain ambiguous.
October 17th will mark the beginning of a grand experiment. Canada is only the seocnd country and first major economy to legalize recreational use.
TL;DR Take these 8 precautionary measures if you plan on coming into contact with cannabis after legalization in Canada.
Consequently, the regulations, law enforcement tactics, and market predications that will soon come into force are largely untested.
It can be difficult to know just what will and what will not be safe or legally admissable once marijuana becomes legal.
To help you out, we've compiled this list of things you should never do after October 17th.
While some of these items will definitely land you in legal trouble, others are precautionary measures.
Above all, Canadians should use their best judgment before interacting with cannabis in any way.
Buy with a credit card
While government-run cannabis dispenseries like the SQDC in Quebec claim that all personal information the store collects will remain secure, it is still a risk to leave concrete evidence of a purchase.
In provinces where private companies can sell marijuana, retailers have offered no such assurances.
Despite a slight relaxation of its policy toward Canadians with cannabis associations, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency still vows to give lifetime entry bans to Canadians who have consumed the drug.
If American border agents come across receipts or purchase history while legally searching your car or cellphone, you will be denied entry into the United States.
Buying with cash is the safest option. Use discretion if you do decide to use your credit card.
Drive with marijuana visible in your car
In most provinces, it is illegal to operate a vehicle if cannabis is even in sight, let alone within the reach of he driver.
In some places, it is even illegal to keep weed in a vehicle if it is not in transit directly from one location to another. Storing marijuana in a car in anticipation of trips or opportune moments is prohibited.
The law surrounding the transportation of cannabis is still ambiguous despite a prolific legal code concerning cannabis use on the road. It will likely be up to the discretion of individual officers how to enforce those laws.
Avoid all risk by hiding weed in your car.
Contact your dealer
All sales outside of the new legal framework are illegal. The government wants to maintain strict control over the distribution of marijuana in order to uphold public safety and capitalize on tax revenue.
Ironically, it seems you could get into more trouble for buying weed from a dealer now that the drug is legal. There's even a special new police force whose sole mission is hunting down sellers without permits.
Smoke anywhere near any place children might frequent
While some provinces and municipalities have decided to permit public consumption of cannabis, it is illegal to use the drug near schools and playgrounds.
Beyond that prohibition, however, the law is unclear. You could get in trouble for smoking weed in any place that children may frequent, such as public fields, attractions, etc.
Use your best judgement before you light up.
Move casually between provinces and municipalities with cannabis in your possession
Weed laws vary greatly from province to province and from municipality to municipality.
Cannabis concumers could unintentionally find themselves on the wrong side of the law simply by passing across a border.
It's best to look up regulations before you decide to smoke in a new place. That may be tedious, but the effort is necessary to stay out of trouble.
Wear clothing or accessories with decorative pot leaves
In many places, decorate cannabis leaves are prohibited. Wearing them could get you into legal trouble.
After legalization, such clothing and accessories could also be used to corroborate evidence of consumption. If while searching your phone a U.S. border official comes across a picture of you in a sweater that features a weed leaf, for example, they will be prompted to ask probing questions and execute a more extensive investigation.
Moreover, clothes with cannabis leaves on them will lose their illicit edge once the drug becomes legal. Expect such designs to quickly disappear.
Share photos of cannabis
As stated above, photos of cannabis are sufficient evidence of consumption.
But laws about exposing minors to the drug are also strict. While it's unlikely that you could get in trouble for circulating a photo that could potentially reach a minor, sharing images of cannabis directly with a minor is suspect.
The government seems utmost concerned with minors' ability to view cannabis. The SQDC in Quebec, for example, list as part of its mission to discourage people, especially minors, from ever initiating cannabis consumption.
For this reason, stores that sell cannabis must have tinted windows. Minors may not even accompany an adult into some government-run dispenseries.
Download cannabis-related apps
Dozens of new apps are likely to emerge after October 17th. The apps will offer a variety of services, including online orders through government distributors, store-locators, and perhaps even specialized social media platforms for cannabis users.
These services, however, will not be secure. All information you input into any given app will likely be accessible by the corporation that controls it. Corporate databases are, of course, susceptible to hacking.
Corporations also do not have the best reputation when it comes to ethical handling of customer information.
Think critically before you download any cannabis-related apps.