The world’s eyes are now set upon Canada as the nation prepares to become only the second nation in the world to legalize marijuana.
Although traction for medicinal and recreational use continues to grow in places like the United States and Germany, Canada’s attempt at regulating the use of marijuana across the country will show just how successful government regulation can be.
Having already allowed the use of cannabis in the medical context, Canada is attempting to gather billions in revenue, create jobs, generate taxes, and eliminate illicit sales to harness an industry set to explode.
Just because national legalization is on the table doesn’t mean Canada is about to become a marijuana free-for-all. In the intervening months since CB-45 passed, provincial and territorial governments spend time setting up strict regulations to remain in control of sales.
The starting date for full Canada marijuana legalization is just around the corner. Do you know where you’ll get marijuana and what the rules are? Keep reading for everything you need to know about buying legal weed in Canada.
1. Canada Lights Up October 17th, 2018
Whether you’re new here or you’ve been hitting refresh lately, there’s one thing you need to know.
Marijuana becomes legal on October 17th, 2018.
But you thought Canada legalized it ages ago? You’re half right. To understand the wait, you need to know how a bill becomes a law in Canada.
The Cannabis Bill – C-45 – passed both the House of Commons and the Senate earlier in the year. For a bill to become the law of the land, it needs “Royal Assent.”
Royal Assent came from Governor General Julie Payette. She provides royal assent because she technically signs on behalf of the Queen of England.
The head of state granted Royal Assent on June 21st, only a few days after the bill passed.
After that, the government needs to provide time for the provinces and territories to get their local laws and infrastructure together. When asked, Canadian provinces told Ottawa that they need two to three months to prepare for Mary Jane Day.
October was the earliest date available that met provincial timelines.
PM Justin Trudeau promised that legalization would take place no later than October 17th. Yes, that was four months after Royal Assent, but who’s counting?
2. Legal Cannabis Means Different Things in Each Province and Territory
Canada waited four months after Royal Assent because the nation’s territories needed a few months to prepare for legalization.
Provincial regulation of marijuana is arguably the most important thing you need to know about legalization. Each province and territory has its own laws for use, possession, growing, and sales.
Buying, selling, and smoking marijuana could be very different depending on where in the country you are.
Here are a few key highlights for each province along with the legal age of consumption.
Newfoundland and Labrador – 19+
Solely based on the time zone, Newfoundland will be the first place to sell marijuana in all of Canada legally. Newfoundland isn’t just the place to be on opening day; you can buy it straight from the source at places like Canopy Growth, a cannabis farm.
Newfoundland explicitly allows private farm sales, and it’s not clear whether other provinces will follow suit.
New Brunswick – 19+
Buying in New Brunswick? Pick up a lock box with your first purchase. The province demands you secure your marijuana the same way you secure your guns – with a lock and key.
Nova Scotia – 19+
If you live in Nova Scotia, you can pick up your cannabis in existing NSLC liquor stores.
You might think Nova Scotia is ready to party, and you’d be half right. Nova Scotia has the highest rate of recreational cannabis buyers in Canada, and the average customer indulges in 27.1 grams per year. In the province, the decision came about because of the rural nature of the region.
Quebec – 18+
Quebec is one of two provinces to allow 18-year-olds to purchase cannabis.
As of right now, you can only buy – not grow – in Quebec. The government says that may change in the next few years.
Alberta – 18+
Alberta is the second province to allow 18-year-old buyers to indulge. You can buy marijuana online, in private retail stores, or grow your own.
Manitoba – 19+
Manitoba has some of the most restrictive cannabis laws. Not only are you not allowed to grow your own, but the province only allows smoking in private residences. Manitoba will also allow municipalities to ban cannabis stores by public referendum.
Saskatchewan – 19+
Saskatchewan is one to watch because the province chose to keep its mitts off its own supply. In most provinces, retailers need to work with the province to get their stock. Provinces will otherwise buy from producers and then sell it on.
Expect some weird and wonderful cannabis to come out of this province.
British Columbia – 19+
British Columbia – Canada’s liberal west coast – offers marijuana in government and private stores or online. You can also grow your own as long as the plants are out of public sight. But landlords can ban both plants and smoking on their properties, and have greater rights to do so compared to other provinces.
Ontario – 19+
Given that Ontario is expected to make up a considerable part of the retail market, it may come as a surprise that weed in Ontario will be available in online shops only until April 2019.
Like Manitoba, municipalities in Ontario can also opt-out of allowing cannabis stores as long as they do so within a “one time window.”
Nunavut – 19+
We have some bad news.
The Nunavut territorial government will have no part in cannabis sales because it doesn’t believe the people want it. Some Nunavut communities are dry, which lends to that take.
Weed will become legal in Nunavut, but you’ll likely need to buy the product online.
Prince Edward Island – 19+
Basic rules apply in Prince Edward Island. You can buy online or from government-operated retailers in Charlottetown, Montague, West Prince, or Summerside.
The government restricts smoking to private spaces, but some public areas may be exempt.
3. Canadian Cannabis Must Remain in Canada
Want to bring your favorite strain when you visit your friends in Colorado or California, where recreational marijuana is also legal?
You cannot cross international borders with Canadian marijuana.
Canada is currently working with the U.S. to encourage compromise at the Canada-United States border. While transporting product across the border will unlikely be possible, Canada hopes that the U.S. will be more lenient to users and investors who aren’t carrying.
At present, the U.S. has a lifetime ban for anyone who has anything to do with marijuana including users, employees, and investors.
4. Edibles and Concentrates Could Hit the Market in October 2019
There’s a glaring hole in Canada’s marijuana legislation: edibles.
Although you’ll find THC-infused treats in dispensaries today, there’s no provision for them in the new legislation. Fortunately, Canada is aware and working on it.
Health Canada hopes to accommodate edibles and concentrates by October 2019.
5. Canada Weed Should Get Cheaper
Experts believe that Canadian cannabis prices should continue to sink after official legalization.
At present, the average cost per gram is $6.74, but that price is 10 percent less than it was in early 2016.
As wholesale operations ramp up, the average price could drop further with some regional variations. Provincial taxes will also impact the average price.
6. You Can Grow it at Home
The Cannabis Act offers up a second exciting proposition: legal home growing.
That’s right, Canadians can grow up to four plants for their personal use at home. Well, that’s unless you live in Quebec or Manitoba.
Quebec and Manitoba have the lowest age limits, but they aren’t interested in allowing home growers to do their thing. Quebec says it’s worried that Quebecqois will start growing and selling illegally, and they’re concerned about teenagers getting into their parent’s plants.
Quebec might come around in two or three years when it reviews the ban, but until then, customers can only shop at licensed dispensaries. Fortunately, Quebec should also have the cheapest cannabis at an average price of $5.88 per gram.
7. The New Law Doesn’t Wipe Previous Convictions
If you have a past conviction for weed possession, growth, or dealing, you aren’t allowed in the new legal industry.
The Minister of Health can reject grower applications for anyone with a criminal history related to drugs, violent offenses or corruption.
Some people believe it’s unfair for those who have minor, non-violent convictions because marginalized communities were more likely to find themselves in the country’s criminal justice system. Health Canada received that feedback and says…they’ll think about it.
Are You Ready for Canada Marijuana Legalization?
We’re only a few weeks away from becoming the second-ever country to legalize marijuana. Although some legislation is still up in the air, Canada looks on track to make the most of legalization by generating economic and tax revenue, boosting employment and taking pressure off law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
Do you have questions about Canada marijuana legalization? Are you a small business with approval to work in the marijuana industry? Click here to learn more about small business insurance options.