Canada’s legalisation of cannabis has been in place for four years now. We’re giving a refresher on the history of the legalisation of cannabis and what you need to know to make sure you’re on the right side of the law.
The issue of legalizing cannabis has been a long and storied one for Canada, and many other parts of the world. On the one hand, you’ve got a ready-made argument against the drug being too easily accessible to too many people. On the other hand, marijuana is mild and safe and, potentially, highly beneficial to many health conditions. Its status as an illicit drug has been used as an excuse to lock up the lower classes and overcrowd prisons for a minor offense.
It’s for all of these reasons that Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put forward the idea of legalizing cannabis during his campaign to become PM in 2015. A Task Force on Cannabis Legalization was soon formed, using the laws around legalized cannabis in Colorado, Washington, and Uruguay as a model to work from.
The Senate passed the final version of the bill on June 19 and as of October 17, Canada became the second country in the world after Uruguay to legalize recreational marijuana use nationwide.
What does that mean for you?
Well, it means you can use marijuana recreationally, legally. Simply sit back and enjoy.
It’s meant that a lot of literature around responsible weed usage has come about. People who would never whisper about such things now have the freedom to explore without fear of moral judgement or legal trouble. You can find truly valuable and authoritative resources on the subject so that your education is a sound one. We often recommend newcomers visit Budlab to look up how they can get high safely, how they can get the effect they want, what they can use, etc.
For businesses it means needing to acquire a license to sell cannabis-infused products from their provincial government. It means you have to be over 19 in order to buy, possess and consume cannabis in most of Canada, with the exception of Alberta which opted for 18 and Quebec which went for 21.
It also means that you can possess in public up to 30 grams of legal cannabis or the equivalent. Equivalents like 450 grams of an edible, 2,100 grams of a liquid product, 30 cannabis plant seeds, or 150 grams of fresh cannabis. Any more than that and you will be considered a seller and your license will come into question.
At home, it varies depending on the state. British Columbia has a limit of 1,000 grams at home, Nunavut and Quebec has a limit of 150 grams, and Yukon and Saskatchewan haven’t set a limit yet. All other states have no limit on how much you can store at home.
It’s also meant a lot of new establishments with a lot of interesting items are hitting the market. Just about any food product has an “edible” alternative now, including gummies, chocolate, baked goods, beef jerky, hard candy, and even butter.
It even means the chemical elements that don’t get you high in weed have a place in society. If you still want to ingest it, you can get CBD items that will ease anxiety, reducing pain, etc. but you can also smear it on your face and body as a popular and powerful skincare treatment.
Is there a catch?
There’s plenty if you consider being responsible with your high a catch. In broad strokes, cannabis has been legalized in the same way alcohol is legal. There are laws around operating heavy machinery, including driving a vehicle, and you are not permitted to cross the border into the US with Canadian marijuana products.
The border controls include a ban on marijuana items in or out of Canada, no matter the amount, even if it’s for medicinal purposes and even if you are coming or going somewhere where weed is legal. You could be charged with a criminal offense if you try, so leave it at home and buy more when you get there, if you have the option.
Cannabis is still a drug, and having it impair your driving is still considered driving while high. You’re risking your life and the life of everyone on the road, so, as the Canadian government website says, “Plan ahead”. Only enjoy your THC if you know you have nowhere to go, or a designated driver nearby.
And then there is the same common sense you would apply to booze. Don’t get high with people you don’t know, if you don’t have a way home, if you have work in an hour, etc.
We say, “treat it like alcohol”, but not enough people drink responsibly. Treat it like a responsible person would treat alcohol.