As the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada fast approaches, many still have questions about the newly-legal drug.
TL;DR These 17 points will help you out once marijuana becomes legal in Canada on October 17th.
That uncertainty, coupled with the circulation of misinformation, could create a dangerous situation after October 17th, the federal deadline for legalization.
To help you out, we've compiled this extensive list of things you need to know about legalization:
You can only purchase weed at licensed retailers
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.
While some provinces have opted for a private model of distribution, government-run agencies will have a complete monopoly on sales in other provinces.
You can review this map of all the cannabis distribution locations in every major Canadian city.
These are the provinces where consumers will only be able to purchase cannabis through government-operated sotres.
– Quebec, through the Sociéte québécoise du cannabis (SQDC)
– New Brunswick, through Cannabis NB
– Nova Scotia, through the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC)
– Prince Edward Island, through the PEI Cannabis Management Corporation
Review information about buying marijuana or obtaining a permit to sell in the remaining provinces at these following links: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland & Labrador.
Ontatio is the only province in which there will not be retail cannabis stores in 2018. In the meantime, Ontario residents can order the drug through the Ontario Cannabis Store.
The punishments for driving high are strict
While the federal Cannabis Act amended the Criminal Code to provide a legal framework for new drug enforcement laws, each province has had the opportunity to administer their own regulations.
The penalties for driving high are particularly strict and can range from a hefty fine to long-term imprisonment.
Review this complete list of the punishments for driving high in every Canadian province.
Police will be able to administer mandatory blood tests
If you are stopped by officers who suspect that you are high, you must submit to mandatory blood tests at your local police station. Refusal to do so will result in a charge.
Read this article for more information about blood tests.
Legal smoking age varies by province
Provinces where the legal voting age is 18:
– British Columbia
– New Brunswick
– Nova Scotia
– Prince Edward Island
– Newfoundland & Labrador
* The newly elected government in Quebec has proposed raising the minimum smoking age in the province to 21, which would be the highest in the country.
You don't have a right to smoke at work
Smoking during or before work is prohibited.
Law enforcement agents must also follow special rules about consumption. While, in some cities, officers will be able to smoke off duty, in other places cannabis consumption is completely forbidden.
You will have to keep it hidden 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 the 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.
You will only be able to smoke outside in some provinces
You can smoke in public only in:
– British Columbia
– Nova Scotia
You will be able to order it through Canada Post
Across the country, Canada Post will deliver cannabis to private residences. Canada Post officials will require a valid id upon delivery. They will not leave packages of cannabis unattended at a doorstep.
Canadians will be able to order through their provincial cannabis agencies.
You should keep receipts that prove legal purchases within Canada
Importing cannabis from another country where it is legal is prohibited. Cannabis souvenirs are also prohibited.
Keep receipts that prove lawful purchases of marijuana. You do not want to be caught with untraceable cannabis
You can be banned for life from the U.S. for smoking it or attempting to bring it across the border
This has already been widely reported. While U.S. Customs and Border Security agents will not ask direct questions about travellers' marijuana consumption, confessions of marijuana use will likely result in a denial of entry and even a lifetime ban.
American border agents will, however, ask probing questions and execute an invasive investigation if they see evidence of cannabis consumption. Make sure to clear your personal possessions of any indication of contact with the drug.
Canadians who work in the cannabis industry will still be able to travel to the U.S.
In a complete reversal of its previous policy, the U.S. border agency this week announced that Canadians who work with cannabis will not be banned from the country so long as they are not travelling for professional reasons.
Canadian investors in the cannabis industry, whose names are public information, are also clear to travel to the United States.
Try to only use cash for legal purchases
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.
You can only grow in some provinces
Quebec and Manitoba are the only provinces to have prohibited private cannabis plants. In all other provinces, you can grow up to four plants.
There are limits to how much you can possess
Across the country, you may only possess up to 30 grams of marijuana on your person.
In Quebec only there is a 150 gram limit per household for private possession.
Edibles will not be legal until next year
This will allow Canadian officials to better assess the health and public safety effects of marijuana in food and beverages.
Once edibles become legal, however, expect them to completely change the food scene in Canada. Some major corporations are already testing cannabis-infused products.
You will, however, be able to produce your own edibles at home aftr October 17th, 2018, so long as you do not sell or widely distribute them.
You shouldn't take photos of cannabis
Photos of cannabis are sufficient evidence of consumption. If a U.S. border agent found photos of the drug during a legal search of you cellphone, for example, you could be banned from entering the United States.
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.
Legalization Day will be a mess
Hundreds of thousands of people will line up to legally buy the drug for the first time. Those crowds could pose a threa to public safety. Police will also begin enforcing new road laws.
Review this list of things to expect on October 17th.
Stay safe, Canada!