Cannabis Across Canada: A province-by-province breakdown
On October 17, 2018, recreational cannabis will be legalized for adult-use in Canada. While statistics show a promising step towards producing a safer product and a lowering of organized crime and overall drug use, the implementation of provincial legislation has been a difficult process.
Provinces and territories are making decisions about how cannabis can be sold, where stores may be located, and how they must be operated.
Provincial governments also must decide where cannabis can be used, as well as setting added requirements on personal cultivation.
Medical cannabis will operate under different rules than recreational cannabis and will continue to be regulated by the federal government.
The laws and procedures surrounding medical cannabis will not change with the Oct. 17 legislation date.
According to federal regulations, the maximum amount of dried cannabis an adult can legally carry in public is 30 grams. One rolled joint contains approximately half a gram.
Possession limits for private homes vary according to province. In most of Canada, the same 30-gram limit applies to households. Alberta and New Brunswick, however, have no possession limits within private spaces.
The number of houseplants permitted to be grown in a household (no matter the number of residents) at any time is limited to four, following federal regulations. However, some provinces have placed their own restrictions on this legislation: Houseplants are illegal in Quebec and Manitoba; those grown in Prince Edward Island must remain inaccessible to minors; and houseplants in British Colombia must remain out of public view.
Each province has the authority to enact more specific rules and regulations for cannabis consumption and distribution.
Where can you consume cannabis? Are edibles, oils and other products legal everywhere? Where and how will cannabis be sold in each province? How much power do municipalities have?
Here is a province-by-province breakdown:
Before Ontario’s latest provincial election, recreational marijuana was set to be sold only from government-operated stores and online sales. Premier, Doug Ford, is keen to introduce cannabis retailing to the private sector. His provincial government has begun consultations; focusing on the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, they hope that the existing infrastructure will allow the LCBO to take on marijuana sales come the fall.
Once it is legalized, cannabis can only be used in the indoor or outdoor spaces of private residences. It will be illegal in public spaces, workplaces and motor vehicles. Violations of these restrictions will result in a $1,000 fine for first offences, and $5,000 for subsequent offences.
The Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQC) will be the only one allowed to purchase cannabis from a producer, and will oversee selling, transporting and storing the product. Quebec is one of the few provinces where growing cannabis for personal use will be illegal. Outside of public spaces, it will be illegal for an adult to possess any more than 150 grams of dried cannabis. Rules on where to smoke cannabis will mirror those which regulate where an individual may smoke tobacco.
The Manitoba government has already announced that four private companies or consortiums have been given the okay to retail cannabis. Some of Manitoba’s specific regulations are yet to be determined, like where it will be legal and illegal to smoke. The legal drinking age is 18 yet the age of legal cannabis consumption will be 19+. Selling cannabis to someone who is impaired by alcohol or other substances is prohibited. Manitoba is also allowing municipalities to ban cannabis in their area. To do so, municipalities will need to hold a referendum.
Like Manitoba, Saskatchewan is letting cannabis enter the private sector, with a restricted number of licences issued during the first three years. So far, 51 cannabis retail permits have been granted. Cannabis may only be consumed in private residences, given that permission has also been granted by the landlord.
Alberta Residents will be able to buy cannabis from retail stores and through government-run online sales. Children are not able to enter licensed cannabis stores and edibles will remain illegal to sell. Although residents can only buy or carry up to 30 grams, there will be no possession limit within private homes.Cannabis may not be within reach of anyone in a vehicle, and any driver with a blood-drug concentration of more than two nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood will face a licence suspension and one year’s participation in Alberta’s Ignition Interlock Program.
Smoking pot will be prohibited in British Columbia anywhere that children congregate, in cars and wherever tobacco is also banned. Like many of the other provinces, households will be allowed up to four houseplants, if they remain out of sight of the public. Landlords will also have the right to place restrictions on smoking and cultivation on their own property. Cannabis will be available in both government-run and privately-owned stores as well as online sales.
The Yukon Liquor Corporation will handle the distribution and sale of cannabis. After Oct. 17, private cannabis retailers wishing to legally sell the product can apply for a licence through the Cannabis Licensing Board. Cannabis may only be in a vehicle if it is in a closed container and is inaccessible to all those in the vehicle.
In the Northwest Territories those over the age of 19 can purchase cannabis from liquor stores and government-run online sales and may grow up to four houseplants per household. Cannabis will initially be sold through existing liquor stores, with the creation of cannabis-only stores possible in the future. Northwest Territories residents will be able to smoke on private property, as well as on trails, highways, roads and parks that are not in use for public events. Communities and landlords will have the power to create and enact restrictions in their own spaces.
All sales in Nunavut, at least in 2018, will be online until physical stores can be established. Municipalities will have the authority to restrict use and to request temporary restrictions on sales; no municipality may ban cannabis all together. Smoking cannabis will be prohibited in the same areas where tobacco is restricted. It will also be illegal to use cannabis in vehicles and wherever children are present. Edibles, as well as other products like oils, will be regulated later.
Those under the age of 19 found in possession of cannabis in Nova Scotia face a fine of $150, and anyone under the age of 18 found in possession of more than five grams will face criminal charges. Residents may use cannabis in their own homes, given that a landlord has not placed any restrictions on the property, and cannabis may not be used in vehicles. The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) will be the only authorized distributor of cannabis. While edibles will be legal to produce at home for personal use, they will not be available for legal sale.
Cannabis will be available for purchase through the New Brunswick government-operated stores and online. No possession limits will apply within private residences, although all cannabis must be stowed securely and out of reach of minors within the home.
The Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) will be responsible for the sale of cannabis, and will set prices, establish and maintain stores and issue licences. Cannabis will be available for purchase through privately-run storefronts and government-run online sales. Smoking will only be permitted on private property.
In Prince Edward Island Cannabis will be sold through government-operated stores and online sales. Smoking will be permitted in private residences, but there will be some exceptions for public spaces. Houseplants must remain out of the reach of minors.