Canada Marijuana Laws

canada marijuana lawsNow that marijuana use is legal nationwide, expect a surge of cannabis use. Cannabis is among the most commonly used substances in Canada, along with alcohol, prescription drugs, and other synthetic drugs. Marijuana is popular in adults aged 25 and older.

As of October 17 2018, recreational cannabis is legalized across the entire country of Canada. Citizens and tourists are now scrambling to know their rights and limitations when handling marijuana. These are the most up-to-date marijuana laws, by province or territory:

Province/ TerritoryAge & Legal ConsumptionLegalization LawEffectivity DateLimitations
AlbertaThe minimum age for purchase and consumption of cannabis at 18. This is in line with Alberta’s minimum age for purchasing and consuming alcohol and tobaccoBill 26: An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis

Bill 29: An Act to Reduce Cannabis and Alcohol Impaired Driving

Nov. 16, 2017 Nov. 14, 2017
  • Licensed retail establishments will be the only stores that can sell cannabis, and will not be able to sell cannabis if they sell alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceuticals.
  • Individuals under 25 will not be allowed to purchase cannabis or be on licensed premises.
  • Possession limit is up to 30 grams.
British ColumbiaAnyone 19 years old or older will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of recreational cannabis in a public place, which aligns with the government’s proposed possession limit.Cannabis Control and Licensing Act

Cannabis Distribution Act (CDA)

Motor Vehicle Amendment Act, 2018

April 26, 2018
  • Smoking or vaping cannabis in playgrounds, schools, and other public areas used by kids.
  • B.C. will allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household; plants must not be visible from the view of public spaces off-property.
  • Home cultivation of non-medical cannabis will be banned in dwellings used as daycares. In addition, landlords and strata councils will be able to restrict or prohibit home cultivation.
ManitobaLegal age is one year above drinking age, 19 years old.The Safe and Responsible Retailing of Cannabis Act

The Liquor and Gaming Control Act

The Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation Act

Dec. 5, 2017

Dec. 5, 2017

June 2, 2017

  • Smoking or vaping cannabis in outdoor public places, enclosed public places and indoor workplaces will be prohibited, and driving under the influence of cannabis or consuming cannabis in a vehicle will remain illegal.
  • The Safe and Responsible Retailing of Cannabis Act prohibits growing marijuana at home in Manitoba.
New BrunswickAdults 19 and older will be able to legally buy up to 30 grams of cannabis from a Cannabis NB retail storeCannabis Management Corporation Act

Cannabis Control Act

Cannabis Education and Awareness Fund Act

New Brunswick Liquor Corporation Act

Motor Vehicle Act

November 2017
  • When grown indoors, the plants must be in a separate, locked space.
  • When grown outdoors, they must be located behind a locked enclosure that is 1.52 meters high.
  • Cannabis consumption in public places or any motor vehicle while in operation are prohibited.
Newfoundland & LabradorThe purchase age will be set at 19.Cannabis Act

Act to Amend the Criminal Code

Oct. 17, 2018

November 2017

  • Consumption of cannabis will be limited to private residences.
Northwest TerritoriesThe legal minimum age to buy, possess or use cannabis is 19, the same as the legal drinking age in the Northwest Territories and are allowed to have up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or the equivalent in public at any time.Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation ActApr. 23, 2018
  • NWT residents may grow up to four cannabis plants per household – regardless of the number of adults in the home.
  • Cannabis use is restricted to private property and is prohibited at public events and in public spaces used by children.
  • Cannabis use in vehicles will not be allowed and there are penalties for driving while impaired.
Nova Scotia19 will be the legal age to use, buy, grow or possess cannabis in Nova Scotia. Possession is allowed up to 30 grams only.Cannabis Control ActApril 17, 2018
  • If you’re under 19, cannabis will be seized and you may be fined up to $150. Parents or guardians may be notified. Restorative justice programs may apply.
  • The Smoke-free Places Act will apply to the use of combustible cannabis in public places.
  • Cannabis can only be used in the privacy of your own home.
  • Cannabis in any form cannot be used in vehicles by passengers or drivers. You may be fined up to $2,000 for consumption in a vehicle.
  • Legal age adults will be able to grow up to four cannabis plants per household.
  • The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation will be the only authorized retailer of cannabis in Nova Scotia. Cannabis can be purchased by adults 19 or over at designated NSLC stores or online.
NunavutThe use and distribution of cannabis is permitted for those who are 19 years of age and older.Cannabis Act

Cannabis Statutes Amendment Act

June 13, 2018

This Act will come into effect when the federal cannabis legislation has been enforced.

OntarioThe use of cannabis is legal for anyone 19 and older up to 30 grams per person.Cannabis ActOct. 17, 2018
  • Private residences – this does not include residences that are also workplaces (e.g. long-term care and/or retirement homes).
  • Cannabis can be used in public places.
  • Up to four plants may be grown per household.
Prince Edward IslandThe minimum age to purchase, possess and use recreational cannabis will be set at 19 years of age.Smoke-free Places ActJan.1, 2017

(amendment)

  • Cannabis use will be restricted to private residences, with some exceptions for certain designated spaces, to limit impacts on communities and public health.
  • A household will be permitted to have four (4) cannabis plants, inaccessible to minors.
  • The production and processing of cannabis products will continue to be regulated through federal licensing.
QuebecAge of legal consumption is 18 years old.Cannabis ActApril 13, 2017
  • Patients are permitted to possess up to a 30-day supply of marijuana as prescribed by the patient’s healthcare practitioner, with a maximum of 150 grams.
  • Growing their own cannabis is not allowed.
  • Can be smoked in places where tobacco smoking is allowed except in universities and CEGEP campuses.
SaskatchewanOnly adults 19 years old or older can legally possess or consume cannabis. The province has set the legal age to match the legal drinking age.Cannabis ActBill C-45, the Cannabis Act has passed by Parliament and is awaiting Royal Assent.
  • For a minor (under age 19), it’s illegal to possess marijuana. Possession of more than five grams for a minor would result in a criminal charge while smaller amounts would be handled through ticketing and seizure.
  • Smoking in public places is not allowed.
  • A maximum of four marijuana plants can be legally grown per household.
Yukon19 years and older are allowed to use and possess a maximum of 30 grams per person.Cannabis ActOct. 17, 2018
  • Consumption can be done only on private property and in private residences, subject to landlord restrictions.
  • A maximum of four marijuana plants can be legally grown per household.

More Information About Marijuana Legalization in Canada

Each of the provinces and territories in Canada have specific laws pertaining to the use, distribution, and sale of cannabis. Looking at the chart above, the minimum age for marijuana use is made similar to the legal drinking age in Canada, which is 19 years old.

The Cannabis Act legalizes the production, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis across Canada. Implemented on October 17, 2018, the Act aims to accomplish the following:

  • Keep cannabis out of the hands of youth
  • Keep profits out of the hands of criminals
  • Protect public health and safety by allowing adults access to safe, legal cannabis

While not all people agree to legalization, the law aims to promote responsible use of the substance. However, youth marijuana use is in no way allowed to be endorsed or marketed. Instead of handling cannabis void of regulations, legalization should aim to decrease criminal activity by diffusing drug lords of their “dirty money”. 

Substance Abuse in Canada

Drug abuse is a major issue worldwide, and the cost of combating drug-related crime can quickly drain the resources of the government. Illicit drug use also leads to addiction, affecting the lives of those who involved and their loved ones.

The Controlled Drugs and Substance Act (CDSA) is Canada’s main drug-control legislation. It criminally prohibits the possession, cultivation, production, importing, and exporting of certain scheduled substances that include:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • Other narcotics

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Canada?

It is possible to legally obtain medicinal cannabis by filing a patient’s medical records with a Licensed Producer authorized under Health Canada’s Medical for Marijuana Purposes Regulations. However, even patients with a medical certificate are not allowed to use the substance in public places.

The government understands the need for some patients to use marijuana as an alternative or supplementary treatment for their health condition. Medical marijuana patients should be responsible and accountable for their actions in relation to the use of marijuana.

Is Recreational Marijuana Legal in Canada?

Starting October 17, 2018, Canada has become the second nation in the world to allow legal consumption of recreational marijuana. The Cannabis Act stipulates provisions on how to control and regulate the growth, distribution, and sale of recreational marijuana in Canada.

Current Marijuana Laws in Canada

Cannabis Act

The Cannabis Act is responsible for controlling, regulation, distribution, and sale of recreational marijuana in Canada.

Cannabis Statutes Amendment Act

This Bill amends several Acts to regulate the usage and vehicular transport of cannabis, and make a number of terminological clarifications with respect to the term “drug” in response to the legalization of non-medical cannabis.

Cannabis Management Corporation Act

A corporation without a share capital is established under the name Prince Edward Island Cannabis Management Corporation with exclusive rights to:

  • Purchase cannabis, other than medical use cannabis, from a licensed producer
  • Conduct retail sales of cannabis

Cannabis Education and Awareness Fund Act

This establishes a fund which will be used to fund education and awareness programs related to cannabis, including programs concerning:

  • Prevention of cannabis abuse
  • Responsible use of cannabis
  • Strategies for the reduction of the adverse health effects of cannabis
  • Development of policies and programs relating to the responsible consumption of cannabis
  • Reduction of its adverse health effects and the promotion of corporate social responsibility in the distribution and sale of cannabis
  • Funding for research projects on cannabis and its consumption
  • Reimbursement of costs for initiatives undertaken by any individual or organization, or any department, corporation or agency of the government of the Province that is related to the purposes set out in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c).

New Brunswick Liquor Corporation Act

It is responsible for establishing a body corporate and politic to be known as the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation consisting of those persons who from time to time comprise the Board of Directors and will serve for the following purposes:

  • Carry on the general business of manufacturing, buying, importing and selling liquor (and cannabis) of every kind and description
  • Promote the responsible consumption of liquor (and cannabis)
  • Participate in the development of the liquor (and cannabis) industry in the Province
  • Meet the needs of its customers
  • Provide suitable financial revenue for the Province

Motor Vehicle Act

The Motor Vehicle Act outlines the laws that govern in the operation of motor vehicles on British Columbia roads in accordance with the rules of the road and related offenses and sanctions.

Drug Testing in Canada

Workplace drug testing is an essential means of identifying employees with drug and/or alcohol problems in the workplace. This practice is performed to ensure the health and safety of employees at all times.

According to a recent survey, about 10% of Canadian workplaces with 100 or more employees have implemented drug testing programs. In Canada, drug testing is conducted in situations where safety is a concern.

Drug testing is most often used to prevent accidents caused by drug use. Urine drug tests are the most popular method of screening in Canada. A urine specimen is collected to instantly detect the presence of common drugs of abuse, including amphetamines, cocaine, cannabis, and opiates.

The legalization of cannabis use may have implications on workplace safety, which is why safety administers must be vigilant in conducting regular employee screening. However, it is important to note as an employer that discrimination for medical marijuana use is against the law.

Drug testing is an effective means of determining whether someone is fit for work. Regular cannabis use arguably affects employee performance and endangers lives, but the jury is still out in Canada workplaces. 

Conclusion

Over-consumption of marijuana has both short-term and long-term effects.  While Canada may accumulate new revenue from cannabis sales in the coming years, the cost of addiction treatment may offset this number. Ultimately, when it comes to the legalization of any substance, time will tell.