Growing weed, buying weed and smoking weed in Canada will soon be legal.
Not just for medical marijuana users, but for those who enjoy a joint now and then.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised marijuana legalization along the campaign trail and it seems he is about to make good on that promise.
But how will legalizing weed in Canada change the landscape?
Here’s what you need to know.
When is weed legal in Canada?
Legal access to dried marijuana for medical purposes has existed in Canada for more than 15 years and laws have been updated over time to increase access.
But soon, recreational use and even growing weed will be legal.
In late March, headlines broke that cannabis could be legalized by Canada Day, 2018.
An exclusive report from CBC revealed that the Liberal government is expected to announce legislation in early April that would legalize Canadian marijuana by July 1, 2018.
Though, a Globe and Mail report suggests the bill be introduced on April 20, a date symbolically known as 4/20 among cannabis culture lovers that draws thousands to Vancouver Art Gallery every year.
CBC’s report suggests the marijuana legislation will “broadly follow the recommendation of a federally appointed task force” which include 80 recommendations.
Growing weed in Canada
Interesting in growing cannabis?
The distribution of medical marijuana is limited to government-approved producers in Canada currently. Only 41 licenses are approved, according to the government’s website as of March 30.
But rules about growing cannabis are expected to be wildly different under the new laws in Canada.
If approved, growing weed will be allowed for any resident across the country. But it comes with restrictions.
Growing marijuana would be limited to four plants per household.
Buying legal weed in Canada
Once legalized, the federal government will be in charge of keeping legal marijuana safe and will take care of licensing, but the provinces will have a role to play.
Each province will decide how weed can be sold, and how much it will cost.
The government task force recommends not selling pot where alcohol is sold and limiting the amount and location of storefronts, including how close they are to schools and parks.
It will be taxed, but exactly how that will work has yet to be revealed.
The Canadian Medical Association warns that the “use of taxation and pricing measures to discourage consumption must be properly balanced against the need to minimize attractiveness of the black market and dissuade illegal production and trafficking.”
The task force recommended taxing higher potency THC products at a higher rate, to discourage purchase, and encouraged using tax revenue from cannabis regulation for drug prevention, education and treatment.
How edibles will work under the new system is still a sticky question.
Many consume pot in baked goods, candies and even creams. Some argue that this can increase the risk of accidentally eating marijuana, particularly children. In Colorado, where edibles were available, there was a reported spike in overdoses.
In response, the government there changed the rules to limit dosage amounts and potency. Canada’s task force has suggested banning products that seem appealing to children, such
Age to buy weed in Canada
If the government adopts the recommendations outlined in the task force’s recommendations, the legal age to buy weed in Canada will be 18.
This age is believed to strike the right balance between protecting youth and reducing the demand for the black market.
Though, the provinces will be allowed to raise that age as they wish. The age to purchase alcohol and tobacco, for example, vary from 18 to 19 by province.
The Canadian National Medical Marijuana Association argues that the minimum age should not ban doctors from administering medical marijuana products to children where traditional methods have failed. The CNMMA says medical pot “successfully treats conditions like epilepsy in children and youth,” as well as seizures and has relieved pain for children going through treatment for cancer.
Though, the CNMMA advocates for “tight” restrictions around advertising to avoid “normalizing” weed.
If you are a medical marijuana user, you can already buy weed online, but Canada Post has been thrown around as an option for distributing recreational pot.
Last September, a panel studied the possibility of Canada Post in a report, titled “Canada Post in the Digital Age.”
The report noted that making marijuana legal could “present a new revenue potential” for Canada Post “which stands to capture a large part of the recreational shipment volume.”
Charging fees for door-to-door mail delivery was also considered.
Where to smoke weed in Canada
While the rules are far from finalized, the government task force has recommended limiting public pot smoking like it does tobacco and vaping products.
Though, it also suggests allowing dedicated places for consuming cannabis, such as lounges.
Public possession will likely be limited to 30 grams of dried, non-medical marijuana, or equivalent.
Driving high on Weed
The government has not yet announced how it will deal with cannabis-impaired driving.
The CNMMA says it’s satisfied with the government task force’s recommendations in this area, specifically those that make reference to graduated sanctions for impaired driving.
B.C. has announced it plans to develop its own regulations on driving high on marijuana and the Liberal government says they are looking for a device that’s easy for officers to use at
roadside to determine if someone is high.
Legalizing marijuana and the black market
Time will tell how marijuana legalization in Canada will affect the black market.
But in an opinion piece to the Globe and Mail, Daniel Bear – a professor of criminal justice at the School of Social and Community Services, Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning – shared his thoughts.
“The three biggest drivers of a shift away from illicit sales will be the taxation, pricing, and ease of access to cannabis for adults,” wrote Bear. “The task-force has recommended that the government specifically consider how any taxation of cannabis will impact the goal of reducing the illicit market. Tax and regulate production or sales too much and the retail prices will be too high to compete with illicit dealers.”
Bear noted that Colorado raised more than $100 million in tax revenue last year from legal cannabis sales.