On June 20, 2018, the Senate voted to pass Bill C-45, otherwise known as the Cannabis Act, which legalizes and regulates cannabis sales across the country. So yes, you’ll soon be able to legally buy and consume pot for recreational purposes. (Canadians have been able to access cannabis for medical reasons since July 2001, when the government enacted the Marihuana [sic] Medical Access Regulations.)
It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate. #PromiseKept
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 20, 2018
Since his election in 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been vocal about his goal of regulating cannabis, which he says will make it harder for youth to use marijuana, prevent Canadians from “end[ing] up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug” and keep profits from the illegal drug trade out of criminals’ hands. But while he’s proud of his #PromiseKept, the rest of us are a bit confused about what exactly happens next. Bill C-45 leaves provinces and territories to decide how marijuana can be used and grown—and by who—which means many people are a little hazy on what this new law *actually* means, and when things will change.
To help demystify things a little, here’s everything you need to know about cannabis legalization in Canada.
What is Bill C-45?
Bill C-45 will allow adults over the age of 18 to buy and consume small amounts of marijuana, and allows individuals to grow up to four marijuana plants per household.
The bill leaves it up to the provinces and territories to pass their own laws regulating the consumption of weed. *Most* of the provinces and territories (including Ontario) have already passed marijuana laws, and have taken v. different approaches. However, the current regulations are subject to change in the next couple of months while the provinces and territories get their affairs in order.
When will I be able to buy weed legally?
Today, Trudeau announced pot would offish be legal on October 17. That’s because some things still need to happen before you can actually buy weed legally. Bill C-45 was given Royal Assent (a final formality) on June 21. Following that, the government gave the provinces and territories a “grace period” to organize retail sales and get their systems in order.
Where can I get it?
Private vs. public ownership of weed retail distribution is one more thing that the provinces and territories can’t seem to agree on. Quebec, Yukon and most of the Maritimes will stick to government-operated retail stores and online sales. In Nova Scotia, you can expect to see pot being sold alongside alcohol at 12 publicly-owned provincial liquor stores.
Ontario initially planned to go with government-operated retail, but after taking power, Doug Ford’s Conservative government scrapped the Liberal plan for over 40 provincially owned stores. In the new plan, the province will handle online sales and private sector retailers will sell pot in brick-and-mortar stores. The online Ontario Cannabis Store will be open for business as of October 17, but those private sector retailers won’t be open until April 1, 2019.
However, Manitoba and Saskatchewan are taking more of a “hands-off” approach, opting for privately-owned retail and online stores instead. Saskatchewan has already issued 51 retail licenses, while Manitoba plans to follow suit with no caps of the number of store licenses issued— but weed sales won’t be allowed to take place where alcohol or tobacco is already sold.
The only Canadian territory that *won’t* have a cannabis shop anytime soon is Nunavut, but you’ll still be able to get the goods online.
Does the age limit apply in every province?
While Alberta is sticking with the legal age set out in the bill (18), all of the other provinces and territories have decided the legal age to purchase marijuana will be 19, with the exception of Quebec, where you may have to wait until you’re 21.
With the provincial and territorial regulations still in flux, the legal age in individual jurisdictions *can* change, which means any province or territory is free to follow Quebec’s lead and increase their legal age.
What (and how much) can I buy?
Only two types of cannabis will be legalized when the law comes into effect: flower (the kind you smoke or use in a vaporizer) and oils (typically ingested). Concentrates and edibles will not be legal (yet), but you’ll probably see those being sold within the next 12 months.
As for how much you can buy, the law allows you to publicly possess no more than 30 grams of dried cannabis, with most provinces allowing you to keep a bigger stash at home. (Except Quebec, which has capped this at 150 grams).
So, I can grow my own marijuana at home?
You’re totally free to DIY grow pot at home—though your garden may have to stay indoors (or at least out of public sight). Some provinces and territories, including Manitoba and Quebec, have decided to ban home growing altogether.
Where can I consume it?
Public smoking and consumption will vary widely across Canada. In Alberta, BC, Nova Scotia, Nunavut and Quebec, you’re safe to smoke wherever tobacco may be smoked. If you reside outside of these provinces, though, you will only be allowed to smoke pot on private property and residences.
Where can I learn more about what’s legal in my province?
Here’s a province-by-province breakdown of the laws and regulations: