Legalization in Canada: The Basics

Legalization is coming to Canada in October 2018! We have put together the low-down on the basics of all you need to know about legalization in Canada per province.

As you no doubt have read, Canada has announced that legalization of marijuana will take place on October 17, 2018! The historic Bill C-45 was passed on Tuesday, June 19th with a vote of 52-29 in favor of legalization. This act amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts to remove cannabis – thereby, making it legal!

This is very exciting news for all Canadians, regardless of whether you are currently involved in the cannabis industry or not. This industry has a lot to offer our great country and we have taken the time to breakdown all the new rules surrounding legalization in Canada. 

Legalization in Canada: The Cannabis Act

The Cannabis Act will allow adults to carry (and even share) up to 30 grams of marijuana in public. In most cases, smoking cannabis is prohibited in cars, areas frequented by children (such as near schools) and wherever tobacco use is currently restricted.

However, each province will have its own rules under this act regarding legal age for cannabis use, as well as how cannabis will be distributed.

legalization in canada

Legalization in Canada: By Province

British Columbia

British Columbia is perhaps one of the most tolerant provinces when it comes to cannabis use currently. In fact, Vancouver is home to the majority of Canadian mail-order marijuana services and also home to several medical and recreational dispensaries. The proposed new rules for The Cannabis Act in British Columbia are as follows:

  • Legal Age: 19+, same as with alcohol
  • Availability: The B.C. Liquor Distribution Board will operate public storefronts and allow for privately-run stores, as well as online shops.
  • Home Grow: Up to four marijuana plants, beyond public view (under 100cm each)
  • Permitted Usage:  Same regulations and restrictions as tobacco; restricted usage around minors.
  • Other: Landlords can restrict cultivation and smoking on their properties

Alberta

Alberta is not known for being as tolerant of cannabis as their neighbors, but once this bill takes effect and legalization occurs, things are expected to change. In fact, Alberta is looking to allow up to 250 cannabis stores! Alberta has a lot of the same regulations as British Columbia when it comes to cannabis, with a few minor changes to better suit the province.

  • Legal Age: 18+
  • Availability: The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will operate online sales while also allowing privately-run retail locations.
  • Home Grow: Up to four marijuana plants, beyond public view (under 100cm each)
  • Permitted Usage: Same regulations and restrictions as tobacco; restricted usage around minors and is prohibited in vehicles.
  • Other: No possession limits in private residences

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan has a slightly different model than British Columbia and Alberta, with no stores being run by the provincial government but instead they will regulate all private locations. As such, the number of retail licenses that the province will issue is to be restricted for the first three years following legalization.

  • Legal Age:19+
  • Availability: Private physical and online sales that will be regulated and licensed by Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority.
  • Home Grow: Up to four marijuana plants, beyond public view (under 100cm each)
  • Permitted Usage: No smoking in public places. Smoking is only allowed on private property and in private residences; prohibited in vehicles.
  • Other: 51 stores

Manitoba

Manitoba has a unique perspective on cannabis in that they are allowing sales to be run privately, but have stated that municipalities have the power to ban cannabis stores in their area if they hold a referendum to that end.

  • Legal Age: 19 years of age – one year above legal drinking age
  • Availability: Privately-run storefronts and online sales
  • Home Grow: Not permitted
  • Permitted Usage: Smoking is allowed on private property and in private residences; the province is moving to ban consumption in vehicles and enclosed public places (beaches, parks, public patios, etc).
  • Other: Municipalities can hold a referendum to ban cannabis stores in their community, if desired.

Ontario

Ontario has a unique model for cannabis as well. In the proposed model, all sales will be run by the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (a subsidiary of Liquor Control Board of Ontario). Unlike British Columbia and Alberta that are using a mixed model and Saskatchewan, which will be fully private and regulated, Ontario wants to run the show themselves! The plan is to have 40 retail locations in 2018 and to increase that number to 150 locations by 2020.

  • Legal Age: 19 years of age – one year above legal drinking age
  • Availability: The Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC) will operate all retail and online sales.
  • Home Grow: Up to four marijuana plants, beyond public view (under 100cm each)
  • Permitted Usage: Smoking is only allowed on private property and in private residences; restricted usage around minors and is prohibited in vehicles.

Quebec

Quebec has taken a similar model to cannabis management as Ontario, with all sales being run by the Societé québécoise du cannabis (SQC), which is a subsidiary of the Societé des alcools du Québec. Quebec plans on opening 20 stores in the first year of legalization and increasing that number to 100+ in the next three years. The province has already announced supply contracts with Hydropothecary, Canopy Growth, Aurora, MedReleaf, Tilray and Aphria.

  • Legal Age: 18 years of age
  • Availability: The Societé québécoise du cannabis (SQC) will operate all retail and online sales.
  • Home Grow: Not allowed
  • Permitted Usage: Same regulations and restrictions as tobacco; restricted usage around minors and is prohibited in vehicles.

New Brunswick

As with the other Eastern provinces, New Brunswick has also opted for a Government monopoly with both retail stores and online shops being run by Cannabis NB, which is a subsidiary of the New Brunswick Liquor Corp. The province has plans to roll out 20 stores to start and has already announced supply contracts with Zenabis, OrganiGram, Canopy and Nuuvera.

  • Legal Age: 19 years of age
  • Availability: Cannabis NB will operate all retail and online sales.
  • Home Grow: Up to four marijuana plants, beyond public view (under 100cm each)
  • Permitted Usage: Same regulations and restrictions as tobacco; restricted usage around minors and is prohibited in vehicles.
  • Other: No possession limits in private residences; all cannabis must be securely locked up in user’s home.

Nova Scotia

All cannabis sales in Nova Scotia will be run by the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, using existing stores. So far, nine stores have been confirmed in Amherst, Dartmouth, Halifax, Lower Sackville, New Glasgow, Sydney River, Truro and Yarmouth

  • Legal Age: 19 years of age
  • Availability: The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation will operate all retail and online sales.
  • Home Grow: Up to four marijuana plants, beyond public view (under 100cm each)
  • Permitted Usage: Same regulations and restrictions as tobacco; restricted usage around minors and is prohibited in vehicles.
  • Other: No possession limits in private residences but is subject to landlord restrictions; all cannabis must be securely locked up in user’s home.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The province will be using a private retail model, regulated by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation. The NLC will also operate online cannabis dispensary shops. In addition, the province has already announced a supply contract with Canopy Growth and have plans to allow 45 stores.

  • Legal Age: 19 years of age
  • Availability: Private retail stores will be regulated by Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, which will also run online sales.
  • Home Grow: Up to four marijuana plants, beyond public view (under 100cm each)
  • Permitted Usage: Smoking is allowed on private property and in private residences.

Prince Edward Island

The PEI Liquor Control Commission will operate all retail and online sales. The province currently has four retail locations planned for 2018 in Charlottetown, Summerside, Montague, and West Prince as they have announced supply contracts with Canada’s Island Garden, OrganiGram and Canopy Growth.

  • Legal Age: 19 years of age
  • Availability: The PEI Liquor Control Commission will operate all retail and online sales.
  • Home Grow: Up to four marijuana plants, beyond public view (under 100cm each)
  • Permitted Usage: Smoking is allowed on private property and in private residences.

Nunavut

The Nunavut Liquor Commission will oversee all cannabis sales in the province, however Nunavut has not announced any physical storefronts for the first year yet.

  • Legal Age: 19 years of age
  • Availability: Nunavut Liquor Commission will oversee all sales, public and private, with potential for outsourcing to private third parties.
  • Home Grow: Up to four marijuana plants, beyond public view (under 100cm each)
  • Permitted Usage: Same regulations and restrictions as tobacco; restricted usage around minors and is prohibited in vehicles.

Northwest Territories

The province is starting with cannabis sales in pre-existing liquor stores and will be potentially adding private locations in the future. They have not yet announced the number of stores that will be in operation.

  • Legal Age: 19 years of age
  • Availability: Northwest Territories Liquor Commission will operate all retail and online sales.
  • Home Grow: Up to four marijuana plants, beyond public view (under 100cm each)
  • Permitted Usage: Smoking is allowed on private property and in private residences as well as public areas such as trails, parks, and streets when not hosting public events.
  • Other: Initial sales of cannabis will occur in existing liquor stores, with the possibility of private locations in the future.

Yukon

Currently, only Whitehorse has been zoned to allow cannabis sales with operations being managed by the Yukon Liquor Corporation. The province has noted that private licensing may be allowed in the future.

  • Legal Age: 19 years of age
  • Availability: Yukon Liquor Corporation will operate all retail and online sales.
  • Home Grow: Up to four marijuana plants, beyond public view (under 100cm each)
  • Permitted Usage: Smoking is allowed on private property and in private residences.
  • Other: Whitehorse will allow government-operated cannabis sales in one area, Marwell. Private retailer licensing may follow in the future

Now you have the low-down on what to expect from your province come legalization!

Time to start the countdown to October 17… Get ready to puff, puff, pass y’all.

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