When marijuana legalization comes into effect on October 17, 2018, Canadians that intend to purchase, carry, or consume the drug should be aware of what the law specifically permits them to do. To complicate matters, provinces will be enacting individual legal frameworks for legalized weed, resulting in varying laws from province to province. This means that Canadians need to be aware of differences in regional laws that may cause them trouble or inconvenience. Here are some of the most important things we think Canadians need to know about legalization.
Purchasing and Carrying Weed
Almost all provinces and territories have pegged their legal marijuana purchase age to their legal drinking age (18 or 19). The only province that has not done this is Manitoba, which has set its legal age at 19, one year older than the legal drinking age. Purchasing and carrying limits in all provinces are set in accordance with federal law and prohibit the purchase or public carrying of more than 30g of cannabis at once. With the exception of Quebec, no provinces or territories have set limits on the amount of marijuana that may be possessed in a private residence. In Quebec, this limit is set at 150 grams.
Canadians must also be careful when carrying or transporting marijuana products in vehicles. For most provinces, weed must be transported in a sealed package and out of reach of any car occupants. Violators will be subject to fines and potential license demerits depending on the province. Moreover, young drivers will need to be aware that some provinces have zero tolerance laws for marijuana usage by drivers under a certain age. For instance, in Ontario drivers under the age of 21 who are caught driving while under the influence of marijuana can expect severe financial penalties and potential jail time.
Public Usage and Consumption
If planning to smoke or vape weed in public, Canadians will have to be aware of not just provincial laws, but also municipal bylaws. Individual municipalities across Canada have begun to set their own rules regarding public consumption and will continue to do so after legalization. Some municipalities have established regulations prohibiting the consumption of marijuana in public, including in parks, and on trails. Canadians should always check the regulations set forth by their municipal and provincial governments when planning to smoke marijuana in public.
Canadians should also be aware that smoking marijuana in vehicles such as cars or boats is prohibited in all municipalities and provinces.
Certain provinces and territories have decided to allow their residents to grow marijuana plants in their private residences. Canadians in most provinces and territories will be able to grow marijuana, up to a limit of 4 plants. Residents of BC should be aware that their plants must be kept out of sight of the public, and that violators could face steep fines. Residents of Manitoba and Quebec will be restricted from privately growing their own bud, being instead forced to rely on dispensaries.