Canada Legalizes Cannabis: How Is Each Province Adapting?

At the stroke of midnight, Canada officially enforced the Cannabis Act; legalizing the sale, use and even personal growth of cannabis products. The North American nation becomes the second country to legalize pot, alongside Uruguay, with the first legal sale of the product happening in Newfoundland.

According to the Government of Canada’s website, the aim for the Cannabis Act is to keep cannabis out of the hands of the youth, keep profits from criminal organizations, and keep public health and safety at ease through allowing adults to purchase legal marijuana. The website states that the legal status of Cannabis will allow citizens, 18 years or older to:

  • Possess up to 30 grams, dried or equivalent, in public
  • Share product with friends, who are of legal age
  • Purchase product from legally-licensed dispensers
  • Grow up to four plants per residence
  • And make food and drink, using product

While these terms and conditions may seem like citizens have free-range to smoke pot as liberally as desired, the truth is the Cannabis Act has numerous limitations.

Age restrictions are among the most crucial restraint to mention; as an individual charged with buying for an under-aged person can face up to 14 years in prison. The promotion of marijuana in an enticing manner to the youth is also prohibited, which can see a three-year jail sentence or a $5 million dollar fine.

Driving under the influence of pot is also illegal, just like alcohol, and can face a minimum of a $1000 fine, and a maximum of jail time. Police will also be allowed to request an oral fluid sample or conduct a standardized field sobriety test, if they reasonably suspect a driver may be under the influence.

Taking cannabis across the border is also illegal and can face a prison sentence of up to 14 years. Other nations may have even more severe trafficking laws; thus, it is best advised to keep your stash at home.

One final, and very important note to mention; each province and territory in Canada has its own specific laws surrounding the legality of cannabis. While not all provinces have released their regulations, here’s a list of which regions do, and what is considered acceptable:

Alberta:
The legal age for cannabis purchase and use is 18. Products can only be purchased from licensed stores, and via albertacannabis.org, although edibles are not legally dispensable, as of yet. Smoking in many public areas is restricted, unless specified by local laws, and children are not permitted to enter any cannabis stores, even with adult supervision.

British Colombia:
The provincially regulated age for cannabis is 19. Smoking is prohibited everywhere that tobacco and vaping is, including playgrounds, schools, and anywhere children may gather. Products may be purchased at government-regulated stores and online dispensaries. Besides federal penalisation for broken laws, provincial offenses may see fines from $2000- $100000, and imprisonment of three to 12 months.

Manitoba:
The legal age for cannabis is 19. The use of marijuana in public is prohibited, including parks, streets, sidewalks and anywhere specified by regulation. The growth of cannabis at home is also prohibited, as supported by provincial public health and safety standards. Products will be distributed by licensed retailers or online.

New Brunswick:
The provincially regulated age for cannabis consumption is 19. The use of pot in public is prohibited by provincial laws, and products will only be available at Cannabis NB or from online retailers.

Newfoundland and Labrador:
The legal age to purchase or use cannabis is 19. Products will be available to individuals via private licensed stores and online at www.shopcannabisnl.com. Edibles will not be available for sale, and can only be consumed in private dwellings, as public use is prohibited.

Northwest Territories:
The territorially regulated age for cannabis purchase and use is 19. The use of pot is allowed on private properties, and in restricted public areas, not used for public events. Communities may enforce local laws prohibiting public use, which add to territorial bylaws. Products can be purchased from NWT liquor stores and online from www.ntlcc.ca.

Nova Scotia:
The provincially regulated age for cannabis consumption is 19. Marijuana will be available for sale by government-regulated stores, such as the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation and online. The use of pot in a public area is prohibited, and offenders face a fine of up to $2000.

Nunavut:
The territorially regulated age for cannabis use is 19. Product can be purchased from the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission through in-store, online, phone or via an agent. Community consultation will be required before opening a licensed establishment for in-store sales.

Ontario:
The legal age to purchase or consume cannabis is provincially set at 19. Products can be purchased through the Ontario Cannabis Store at OCS.ca, although a provincial legislation may allow distribution through licensed, privately owned stores in April 2019. The use of pot is allowed in private residences and in various public areas, such as sidewalks and parks, so long as individuals are at least 20 metres away from where children gather.

Prince Edward Island:
The provincially regulated age for cannabis use is 19. The use of marijuana will be strictly in private residence, although public use may be opened up at a later time. The province will have four, government-owned retail locations, as well as an online distributor.

Quebec:
The legal age to purchase and use cannabis is 18, although talks are in progress regarding whether to raise the age to 21. Marijuana can be used anywhere tobacco is allowed, although certain municipalities may enforce certain restrictions. The Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) is the only retail location allowed to distribute product, as well as online.

Saskatchewan:
The provincially regulated age to consume cannabis is 19. Product may be purchased online or through private retailers, licensed by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority. Public consumption is strictly prohibited, and provincial fines will be enforced, alongside federal punishment.

Yukon:
The legal age for cannabis use in this territory is 19. Purchasing product can happen at one retail location in Whitehorse, and through online distribution. The use of pot is permitted in private residences, and in locations permitted by regulations. Areas where children are present or around others, who do not want to be exposed to the smoke are prohibited.

For more information, check out the Government of Canada’s website at www.canada.ca.

Daniel Mitri

Daniel Mitri is a Toronto-based writer with an interest in music, travel and food. Aside from writing, he spends most of his time playing bass guitar and frequenting 24-hour restaurants. Follow him on Twitter @MitriTweets.

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