October 17th, 2018 will be a banner day for cannabis enthusiasts. After a long and winding battle, cannabis will officially be legalized in Canada. No more sneaking around the back alley late at night to get a blaze on, or heading to the secluded “secret spot” with your friends for a little game of puff-puff-pass. Conservative views on cannabis use are being broken down and your once dirty secret no longer needs to be dirty or secret! With all the excitement permeating the fresh airs of this beautiful country it is important to familiarize yourself with the facts of purchasing, possessing, using or growing cannabis in Canada.
First and Foremost
Much of the laws surrounding the legal use of cannabis parallel the laws of alcohol consumption, with the most important rule being do not sell or provide cannabis to minors. In BC, that means no one under the age of 19 (18 if you are in Alberta or Quebec) can legally consume cannabis or cannabis products. Smoking in areas populated by children is also unacceptable– this means parks, school grounds and any other public area where children are the primary focus. It can be harmful to smoke in front of children, so let the kids play safely in their own spaces and find yourself a new, adult spot.
At Home and in the Community
It is now fully legal to purchase cannabis from licensed private retailers and government-run stores across Canada and online. Smoking or vaping in public spaces (so long as they are not spaces designated for children) is permitted, so long as there is no signage banning the use of cannabis and/or tobacco. In fact, many of the rules about where and when smoking is permitted are the same as those involving the use of tobacco so if you are a tobacco user then you most likely know the drill regarding smoking or vaping in public.
You can now legally carry up to 30 grams of cannabis in public without feeling sketchy about it. Of course, the illegal sale of cannabis is not permitted so those 30 grams should be yours and yours alone.
For plant enthusiasts, feel free to add some new flora to your private garden as it is legal to grow 4 cannabis plants in your household. These plants are yours to do with as you please; grow them simply to admire their beauty or raise them with the intention of consuming their flowers. The rules with small-scale, household growing are pretty straight forward: So long as you keep it to a maximum of 4 plants and keep them out of view from public spaces then you are in the clear.
Out on the Road
Cannabis is a mind-altering drug so the rules surrounding using and driving are akin to the rules surrounding drinking and driving: No, no and no. It is 100% illegal to drive while under the influence of cannabis and the consequences are severe, ranging from $1000 fines to the revocation of your license to actual jail time. This is no joke. Regardless of how clear-headed and equipped you feel to operate a motor vehicle, the risk is definitely not worth the reward so if you are planning on going out and consuming cannabis then make sure you have a safe ride home (or just enjoy a nice, long walk with a smooth joint in hand).
Road tripping through Canada with cannabis on your person is legal, however you must familiarize yourself with the individual cannabis laws of each province before consuming. If you are 18 and you are travelling from Calgary to Vancouver, then you can no longer legally consume cannabis once you cross the border into BC where the legal age is 19. The areas where smoking or vaping are permitted also differ from province to province, so make sure you are aware of these intricacies so that you don’t end up in a holding cell thousands of kilometres from home.
Travelling across the border with cannabis is a bad idea and super illegal, so (and this cannot be stressed enough) do not cross the border with cannabis on your person or in your vehicle. Even greater, do not even address your past consumption, interest or knowledge of cannabis products unless you want to potentially be banned from the U.S indefinitely.
We are officially a part of cannabis history! Years from now, we will tell our grandchildren about how cannabis used to be illegal and they probably won’t even believe us. Now that you know more about the ins and outs of legal cannabis consumption, get out there on October 17th and let your hair down. Purchase, consume and grow without stress so long as you use responsibly and within the bubble of legality. It took decades to make it to the point of acceptance, so let’s make sure we don’t blow this opportunity by abusing the laws put in place by the Canadian government. Your legal cannabis journey starts here — Enjoy your freedom and experience the beginnings of de-stigmatization.