Legal cannabis has come to Canada. The Cannabis Act, passed in June of 2018, legalizes the recreational use of cannabis for adults in Canada. The full title of the act, also known as Bill C-45, is An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts. When combined with Bill C-46, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code, the Cannabis Act legalizes recreational use of cannabis nationwide in Canada. Here, we take a look at what the Cannabis Act means for you.

Journey to Legalization

The Liberal Party of Canada first proposed recreational cannabis legalization in 2012 and was a major campaign platform for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Once elected, Trudeau and his party went to work fulfilling their campaign promise to bring legal cannabis to Canada.

On April 13, 2017, the Cannabis Act was introduced to Parliament, sponsored by Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould. The act was written with the advice of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, commissioned to ensure that cannabis legalization was conducted responsibly.

The Cannabis Act was passed by both the Senate and the House of Commons in June of 2018 and received Royal Assent on June 21, 2018. The act has an effective date of October 17, 2018.

What This Means for You

The Cannabis Act allows for national use of cannabis products by individuals 18 and over and possession of up to 30 grams of dried cannabis flower or its equivalent weight in products like capsules and oils. Legal cannabis sales will take place at authorized retail outlets or through the mail. Recreational use of cannabis is no longer against the Canada Criminal Code effective October 17, 2018.

Individual provinces have the ability to further restrict possession, sale, and use in their locals and are responsible for setting up a system for retail sales in their jurisdictions. Mail delivery of cannabis products will be handled by the federal government.

Provinces and territories are required to develop a system of controls to authorize cannabis distributors and retailers and will have the power to:

  • Determine how and where cannabis will be sold;
  • Lower the personal possession limit;
  • Issue licenses for the distribution and retail sale of cannabis;
  • Establish zoning regulations for businesses operating in the cannabis industry;
  • Designate public areas where cannabis can be consumed; and
  • Increase, at their discretion, the federally-imposed minimum age requirement of 18 for purchasing cannabis.

Growing cannabis at home is authorized by the Cannabis Act at the national level. Up to four cannabis plants may be cultivated in a dwelling at a time. However, check your local regulations, as individual provinces can alter these guidelines.

Also varying by location is where users can consume cannabis. Many provinces and territories allow cannabis consumption in private property and residences. Others locations allow use of cannabis wherever tobacco use is allowed, including at home and outdoors in public with some restrictions.

For the time being, cannabis products are limited to dried cannabis flower and consumable cannabis oil. The government plans to allow concentrates and edibles to follow within the first year.

What the Bill Says

The bill provides guidelines for “legal access to cannabis and to control and regulate its production, distribution and sale… The objectives of the Act are to prevent young persons from accessing cannabis, to protect public health and public safety by establishing strict product safety and product quality requirements and to deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those operating outside the legal framework. The Act is also intended to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis.”

Read the entire Cannabis Act here.

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Written by:
Jeffrey Stamberger Jeffrey Stamberger