Illustration by Genevieve Pizzale Image by: Getty Images
October 17 is right around the corner, and if you’re not sure what that means for you in your province, we’re here to clear the smoke.
On June 19, the Senate voted to pass Bill C-45, legislation that will allow Canadian adults to legally have and use recreational weed by October 17. With any big policy change like this one, it can be hard to wrap your head around what exactly it all means. And if it’s not complicated enough, Bill C-45 gives each province and territory a lot of room to make their own rules.
We reached out to Myrna Gillis, co-founder and CEO of aquaponic medical cannabis company, Aqualitas, and a former lawyer, to help us unpack what the new laws mean for recreational weed users across Canada.
Can I consume weed in public spaces?
“Some provinces are adopting a smoke-free policy, so places where you can’t smoke tobacco would have very similar applications to cannabis,” says Gillis. That’s the law for Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Quebec, B.C. and Alberta. For the last two, you also can’t smoke in cars or in places with lots of children. In New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Ontario, P.E.I., Saskatoon and Yukon, however, it’s illegal to smoke cannabis everywhere except on private property.
What about weed and driving?
Thanks to Bill C-46, a police officer can demand a saliva sample if they think you might be impaired by a substance other than alcohol. There will be three new drug-related offences for impaired drivers, too. If your blood level has more than five nanograms of THC (the ingredient in cannabis that makes you high) in it, or if you’ve been smoking pot and drinking alcohol together, you’ll be fined and could face jail time.
Can I grow my own weed?
“It’s a four-plant limit, and starting materials should come from a legal supplier,” says Gillis. That applies to all provinces except Manitoba and Quebec, where residential cultivation won’t be legal. Where you can grow your plants might be affected if you don’t own the property you live on, as well. “You may have restrictions in the covenants of your lease about whether or not you’re actually able to do it,” Gillis explains. If you do decide to grow your own plants, they can only be for personal consumption, not for sale.
Where can I buy it?
“The only places that can sell in the recreational market are the provincially-regulated distribution retailers,” says Gillis. Depending on what province you’re in, that could be a government retailer (like the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation) or a combination of private retail stores and online sales. “You have to make sure you’re not purchasing it from an illegal supply and know that the retailer is licensed and able to sell,” warns Gillis. You won’t be able to legally buy edibles, but you will be allowed to make your own at home.
How much will it cost?
Again, it’s the responsibility of each province and territory to set their own prices for recreational weed. There isn’t a definitive pricing structure yet, but Gillis guesses it could land anywhere between $7.50 and $11, “so it can compete with the black market.”
Is there a possession limit?
The legal limit for the public possession of recreational weed is 30 grams. That means 30 grams of dried cannabis, which is equal to 150 grams of fresh cannabis, 2.1 kilograms of liquid products and 30 plant seeds. Most provinces don’t have a limit on how much you can have in your home, except Quebec, where the maximum is 150 grams.
What happens to people who already have weed-related convictions?
There won’t be amnesty for people convicted of weed-related offences before October 17, although the NDP is trying to change that. And if you have a past conviction, you can still use recreational weed, but you might be banned from selling it in the regulated market where there is private retail or as taking part as a licensed cultivator or processor.
Can I bring my Canadian weed across the border?
Bringing the weed you bought at home across the border and into the U.S. is prohibited, even if you’re headed to a state where recreational weed is also legal. Beyond having weed on you, you also might be asked if you’ve ever consumed cannabis. Answer yes, and you could be denied entry into the U.S., and possibly barred from the country for life – that’s at the discretion of the U.S. border agent you’re dealing with.
Since the provinces and territories have the authority to make changes, like lowering the possession limit, increasing the minimum legal age and imposing their own regulations on personal cultivation, here is some of the different legislation each will be putting in place.
In Yukon, landlords will be able to ban weed consumption.
In the Northwest Territories, you will be able to smoke weed on trails and roads and in parks, as long as they’re not being used for a public event.
In Nunavut, you’ll only be able to buy your weed online, because the government isn’t planning to open any retailers in 2018.
In B.C., if you grow your own weed, it can be outside, but it has to be out of sight.
In Alberta, the minimum age will be the same as the legal drinking age: 18.
In Saskatchewan, a retailer who sells to a minor or doesn’t ask for ID from a customer could be fined $2,250.
In Manitoba, the legal age for cannabis consumption (19) will be one year older than the legal drinking age.
In Ontario, you’ll be able to buy your recreational weed online through the Ontario Cannabis Store, operated by the LCBO. The provincial government is also working on a consultation process that should allow private retailers of recreational weed to be set up by April 1.
In Quebec, you won’t be able to smoke recreational weed on university and CEGEP campuses.
In New Brunswick, there won’t be limits on how much weed you can have at home, but it has to be stored in a place you can securely lock.
In Nova Scotia, the NSLC is going to be the only legal retailer of recreational weed.
On P.E.I., you’ll be able to buy legal recreational weed at four government-owned stores – one in Charlottetown, one in Summerside, one in Montague and one in West Prince.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, along with privately-owned stores and government-owned online retailers, you’ll also be able to buy weed at Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) stores in smaller municipalities.