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While practically every Canadian knows October 17, 2018, was the date when cannabis is legalized in the country, some confusion is still rippling from Victoria to St. John’s. Questions may include, “What exactly is legal and illegal?” and “Can I actually grow cannabis at home?” and, very importantly, “What will happen when I try to cross the border to the U.S. and I admit to having used cannabis?”

When the Cannabis Act1 (also known as Bill C-45) comes into effect on Oct. 17, you’ll be legally allowed to purchase certain amounts of fresh or dried leaf cannabis, cannabis oil and seeds. Edibles will likely be available in late 2019.

The minimum age to purchase cannabis in Canada is 19 in every province but Alberta and Quebec, where the minimum age is set at 18. Canadians can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis and it must be purchased via the approved retailers or government sources designated by each province.

The tricky thing about the Cannabis Act is that every province has mandated their own policies on everything from homegrow rules to where cannabis can be purchased. For example, in Ontario, online sales are the law of the land until bricks-and-mortar retailers (likely a mix of private and government) open in April  2019.

In Saskatchewan, the government is following the private-retailer-only model, while B.C. has a mix of public and private.

Turning to consumption laws, those too also vary by province, but, generally, public consumption will be a ticketed offence, meaning private cannabis use will be encouraged. Alberta, Ontario and B.C. look to be the most lenient so far, prohibiting cannabis consumption only in areas where smoking is not permitted, while in Manitoba no public consumption is allowed, unless you’re a medical cannabis patient.

Across the board, using cannabis while driving is prohibited.

Only licensed producers can sell their products with retailers or government outlets, and the number of approved LPs is rising every day. Dispensaries exist in a grey area now and since legalization police have had the green-light to lay charges on anyone suspected of illegally selling cannabis, with a maximum jail sentence topped at 14 years. B.C., though, as The Leaf News explains,2 “is explicitly opening its competition for private cannabis retailers up to existing dispensaries, with an eye to bringing those illegal businesses into the legal fold. So if you live in B.C., it's entirely possible that your local dispensary could join the legal regime.”

Growing your own cannabis may be top-of-mind for some Canadians, and Ottawa has allowed up to four cannabis plants per household (not per person) for personal use. Thing is, you can’t get legal seeds just yet, so potential homegrowers are left in limbo. Manitoba and Quebec have outlawed any homegrowing whatsoever.

Because cannabis is illegal in most other countries, crossing the border with cannabis could land you behind bars. In fact, admitting to using cannabis to a U.S. border agent could suspend your ability to enter the U.S., unless you obtain a pricey waiver form. Note that the U.S. can’t bar people who are using cannabis under a federal medical approved license.

A Canadians can also decline to answer questions about cannabis use, but that will bar them from U.S. entry during that trip.

When it comes to medical cannabis users, what may plant a smile on their face, is that some reports3 indicate their products will likely be less expensive than consumer cannabis. Also, the Canada Revenue Agency considers medical cannabis bought under prescription to be an eligible medical expense. Medical users will still need to purchase their medicine through LPs.

It’s also expected that consumer prices for recreational cannabis will fall before legalization. Marijuana Business Daily writes: “Wholesale marijuana prices are expected to decline drastically as cannabis multinationals bring their large cultivation facilities online over the next year.”

  1. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/news/2018/06/backgrounder-the-cannabis-act-the-facts.html
  2. https://www.theleafnews.com/dearherb/dear-herb-what-will-happen-to-my-favourite-dispensary-after-legalization-484083823.html
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4978573/

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