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Canada to Legalize Marijuana. Here’s What You Need to Know

April 13, 2017
Canadian flag waving with Parliament Buildings hill and Library in the background
In an announcement that will have profound implications for cannabis legalization worldwide, Canada became the first G-7 nation to formally propose the full legalization and regulation of cannabis today. In a news conference in Ottawa, leaders of Canada’s health, justice, and public safety ministries revealed the Liberal government’s plan to end decades of cannabis prohibition. If adopted as planned, the new federal rules would allow the production, sale, and possession of cannabis by all adults 18 years and older. The federal government would license cannabis producers (growers), but will leave most regulations regarding distribution and sale up to the provinces.

Here’s what you need to know.

Q: When will legalization happen?
A: July 1, 2018. That’s the short answer. Media outlets have reported that the Liberal government’s proposal, if adopted, would legalize cannabis for adults nationwide by Canada Day, 2018. That date may shift as the legislation moves toward approval. It may also be reset away from Canada Day in order to not turn Canada Day into 4/20 North.

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Who will be able to purchase, possess, and consume cannabis?
All adults. Canadians and visitors. Don Cherry and Justin Trudeau. Drake, Feist, Deadmau5, and Geddy Lee.

Hmm. That word “adult”: What’s the age requirement?
It’s a bit tricky. Federal law will set a minimum age of 18, but each province will be free to set its own age limit above that level. So in some provinces it may be legal only for adults age 19 or 21, or even 25, depending on what each province decides to adopt. That age limit restricts sales and outlaws providing cannabis to minors, and it bars advertising to minors or marketing promotional activities to young people.

Regardless, while young people under 18 could be hit with civil sanctions for cannabis, they wouldn’t face criminal prosecution for simple possession of small amounts.

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Who’s going to grow it? Who’s allowed to sell it?
The federal government will issue licenses to cannabis producers (growers), much as it currently does with medical marijuana licensed producers. Officials say this will ensure product quality and safety. Retail, on the other hand, would be left primarily to provinces.

The federal legislation allows for many scenarios. If a province doesn’t put in place a retail distribution or sales framework, the national government has authority to allow adult consumers to purchase directly from a federally licensed producer. Vending machines would be prohibited.

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Will I be able to buy at a cannabis store?
Whether to permit storefront dispensaries will be a decision left to provincial governments. If legal states in the US are any indication, some communities will welcome retail stores; others will likely ban them. If a province doesn’t put in place a retail distribution or sales framework, adult consumers may be able to purchase directly from a licensed producer.

How much can I have?
Adults can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, or a little over an ounce.

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Can I grow my own?
Yes, but there are limits. Personal cultivation will be allowed up to four plants per residence, each with a height limit of 100 cm (3 feet, 3 inches). Note that the limit is per residence, not per person. So if you’re sharing a house with roommates, you don’t each get to grow four plants. One residence, no matter how large or small, may contain four growing plants. That’s it.

What will happen to current medical marijuana LPs?
Current medical cannabis regulations will remain in effect for the time being. The government plans to review them as adult-use regulations evolve in order to make any changes deemed necessary.

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What will happen to existing storefront dispensaries?
The federal legislation doesn’t address the current situation with unlicensed storefront dispensaries. The tone of the officials at today’s briefing indicated that they expected cannabis to be sold through retail storefronts, to be licensed by provinces and/or local municipalities. The key word there is “licensed.” That doesn’t mean existing dispensaries will turn legal or illegal overnight.

Will I be able to order cannabis through the mail, or ground delivery?
That will be determined by each province.

Related

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What about taxes?
Oh, the government will take a bite. Count on it. But the current bill makes no mention of taxes. Most expect the federal finance minister to bring a formal proposal for cannabis taxation later in the year.

Will infused edibles be sold?
Edibles will be allowed and regulated for health and public safety. Cannabis products can’t contain nicotine, caffeine, or alcohol.

Is advertising allowed?
The government says its goal is to provide adults with factually accurate information in order to make informed choices about cannabis. To that end, advertisements aren’t allowed to make false or misleading claims, nor may they appeal to young people. They can, however, include levels of cannabinoids like THC and CBD, a product’s ingredients, strain names, and a company brand.

How about gummy bears? 
Probably not. The federal act prohibits “cannabis or a cannabis accessory that has an appearance, shape or other sensory attribute that there are reasonable grounds to believe could be appealing to young persons.” So gummy bears and other candy-like products will likely not pass muster with the federal government. Ditto to any edible product with flavors like cotton candy or bubblegum.

What about product packaging?
There were some last-minute rumors that the government could prohibit branding, the use of colors in packaging, and other visual design elements. But that’s not the case—not yet, at least. The legislation gives the federal government the authority to bring forward regulations. Those regulations will be set at a later date.

Anything else we should know about packaging?
Yes: It will be illegal to display any cannabis product in a manner that may result in the cannabis package or label being seen by a young person. This pertains to actual cannabis products; it’s unclear how it would affect advertising.

Any change of import/export here? 
Nope. Current Canadian law allows the import or export of cannabis only through a license issued by Health Canada, for medical or research purposes only. That will not change under the new federal proposal.

How about vending machines. 
No, you won’t be able to sell or purchase cannabis or cannabis-related accessories via vending machines. That’s actually written into the federal rules.

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Leafly Staff

Leafly is the world’s largest cannabis information resource, empowering people in legal cannabis markets to learn about the right products for their lifestyle and wellness needs. Our team of cannabis professionals collectively share years of experience in all corners of the market, from growing and retail, to science and medicine, to data and technology.

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  • withere

    Huh? The bill seems pretty clear about packaging and promotion.

    PromotionPromotion
    17

    (1)
    Unless authorized under this Act, it is prohibited
    30
    to promote cannabis or a cannabis accessory or any ser- vice related to cannabis, including
    (a)
    by communicating information about its price ordistribution;
    (b)
    by doing so in a manner that there are reasonablegrounds to believe could be appealing to young per-sons;
    (c)
    by means of a testimonial or endorsement, howev-er displayed or communicated;
    5
    (d)
    by means of the depiction of a person, character oranimal, whether real or fictional; or
    (e)
    by presenting it or any of its brand elements in amanner that associates it or the brand element with,or evokes a positive or negative emotion about or im-
    10
    age of, a way of life such as one that includes glamour,recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring

  • Grow Your Own

    Don’t Wait until July 1st 2018 to Legalize Marijuana pass the legislation, pass it Now in 2017! Hopefully America will follow suit.

    • darkaquarian

      It won’t, too many stuck up assholes in America who believe they’re doing God’s work oh but opioids are legal smh… The whole country of URUGUAY is legal…. THE ENTIRE COUNTRY… Beat Canada to it

  • Austin

    Boo. Way to put it off another year, Mr. Truedope!

  • Rene

    Be making my own better since February 2017and have to say it’s been great I do strain it, but I keep the for roughage it seems to help with bowel movement don’t know if anyone has heard of that but it has been helping me, I ate all kind of vegetables and take over the counter laxatives and still have a problem but since I have started doing the Cannabis way I have had no problem so it seems there is something to this I am going to keep up with this and do it my way not the doctors way has anyone else heard of this or tried it, enquiring Minds like to know. 😎

    • dagnable

      My daughter gave me a container of Hemp protein fibre to put in my smoothies. And smoothly it goes!
      Have a good one.

  • Sandy Weaver

    Hey it takes time to put legislation into action. People have been working on the legalization of cannabis for a long time. I think this is great news. Think about all the people whose lives have been ruined because they’ve spent long sentences in prison for possession. When you think about it, if hemp and cannabis become legal there are other products coming down the pike. Hemp is such as useful plant. It can be used for fuel, medicine, building, clothing, paper and it doesn’t need chemicals or pesticides to produce. Bring it on!

    • JD Salinger

      Yes, it’s a medicine so good many people use it just for the side effects!

  • JD Salinger

    Article fails to mention that transportation of marijuana across an international border is a crime that carries a 14 year prison sentence. Have fun in Canada but don’t try and bring home a souvenir.

    • forkboy29

      News flash: Not every article on the Internet is custom-written for Americans. It was an article about legalization in Canada; not how that impacts Americans. Google the word “ethnocentric”.

  • rachelattack

    Yeah I wondered if that July 1st date was gonna stick. But as a gardener I’m so excited I could go dance around the yard – I wish it were this season, though. Now must be about the time to start seeds? And if it’s law mid-summer 2018 then it might be a little late in most of Canada to start from seed…

    • Kaos

      They should be able to finalize everything over the next 9 months to give us an outdoor season to grow rather than wait until ’19. But that would ensure the Hydro companies an extra profit from indoor grows!

  • Daniel Ortega

    North is looking greener than ever and Canada will be the new vacation place for Mexicans and Americans alike. This is a good move by the Canadian government. Now if Mexico legalizes Cannabis after Canada American’s will be left in the middle with second hand smoke wondering what went wrong with their bureaucratic legislations.

  • OldYorke

    As usual, much over reacting on the part of the government…. no reason it can’t be legal as soon as the bill passes, period. What our legislatures should be spending their time regulating is the big pharma companies who are literally killing us.

  • searchlight

    how does this work ?… i can only posses 30 grams yet i can grow 4 plants.

    • Byteme2

      I could be wrong but I am assuming that the 30 gram rule is if you are not at home, not saying you can have 50 lbs at home..

    • Grow Your Own

      30 grams in Your Pocket, 4 Plants Growing @ Home.

    • Kaos

      As a MMJ user I am allowed 1.5 G per day, Maximum allowed is 5 G/day so some1 with a 5G licence can be in possession of up to 150 G at a time!! That is almost 1/3 of a lb. I don’t see how they can compare 4 plants to 30 G. Less than 30 g per plant is going to cost more than buying from the street. The cost of nutes & hydro + the time you put into them!! Then the Govt needs their cut, can’t have you saving money so how do they TAX Plants??

  • Rick P.

    No mention of testing requirements for contaminants or potency. This is a big issue.

  • Yvonne Luke

    I would like if someone would please take the time and HELP! me with the know how to grow my own strains at home???

    • Paul

      were do you live? I am in the Santa Clara, CA area. I’ve been growing at home for 6 years and will consult for a fee.

      • john

        consult this!

  • GBAUTO

    Google is your friend…Online cannabis growing forum…many options will appear-investigate and learn.This one has alot of good info http://www.growweedeasy.com/link-guide-growing-cannabis

  • Ninjaskills

    This is the worst thing ever monopolizing the Industry and forcing everyone to buy shitty lp weed , read the fine print it’s much worse than the system that is in place now

    • Doris

      folks will keep on buying from their brother -in-laws and LPee’s will go belly up.

      Folks will grow their 4 plants higher than the reglemented 3 feet, or, heaven forbids…will grow 5 plants.

      Cops will be even busier spending my tax dollars to track 5 plants home grows.

      Your doctor will tell you cannabis is bad for you.

      • Kaos

        Doris You are uninformed!! Cannabis is the safest pain killer. Opiates KILL & they are given out by more Doctors who are killing their patients or at least getting them ADDICTED!! You CANNOT be PHYSICALLY Addicted to Cannabis. Cannabis Kills CANCER & has never in recorded history been the cause of 1 DEATH!! Nature Kicks BIG PHARMAS ASS any day!!!

        • Doris

          I should know about the Canadian cannabis market as i’ve dealt with Health Canada ever since having my MMAR prescription 10 years ago.

          ”Health Canada’s stance that cannabis has no medical value” is bogus.

          LP’s product is terrible…full priced oil capped at 3% are you kidding me?

          LP’ees unable to serve sick Canadians…constantly running out of products.

  • Shoreline1

    Congratulations, Canada! However, it is America that is the leader of the free world, and has the incarceration rate to prove it. Or possibly more precisely, the American government leads the world in being full of shit, as representative of its people.

  • Rainey

    Purely legal question here: Will Canadians who are serving time in prison for marijuana-related criminal offenses be released when the law goes into effect? Will individuals who have served their sentences in full but still have a marijuana-related felony conviction on their record have that record expunged? Pretty wonky query, I know, but that seems to be a major concern here in the US, thanks to our private prison industry. Private prisons and Big Pharma are legalized marijuana’s two biggest opponents, and both have their hands deep into lawmakers’ pockets.

  • Higzy

    This is NOT legalization. It is nothing more than a more lenient form of prohibition. I can keep my plants at 3 feet in height and SCROG them 8 feet wide. These ignorant twats didn’t give this much thought.

  • PTSD Warrior

    If you are an OUTDOOR organic grow-your-own pot producer because your PTSD causes you to AVOID all triggering, stress-inducing harassment from people let alone authorities, then four plants is simply NOT enough. Outdoor organic growers only have ONE season to grow enough medicine for the whole year. Not everyone grows indoor and those who do don’t deserve special treatment. Nonetheless, those who grow indoor may also be subject to home invasions by police, which are devastating, especially if you have PTSD. I’d like to think I speak on behalf of veterans, rape victims, people with PTSD living on disability with poverty level income and anyone else in need of this medicine as a form of “plant therapy.” Trudeau’s proposed 4-plants per household limit most certainly will be broken as we know already from prohibition that GOOD PEOPLE DISOBEY BAD LAWS. We also know that it is estimated that as much as 50% of court and police budgets are derived from asset forfeiture proceeds (stealing your stuff) and court fines generated through marijuana arrests. Face it, other than those reasons, politicians and law enforcement have NO JUSTIFICATION to limit these plants when they should be limiting alcohol and cigarettes INSTEAD since they do far more damage to lives, costing taxpayers million$$$ in damages.

  • PTSD Warrior

    FYI It’s not enough to ban nicotine, caffeine and alcohol from contaminating cannabis… we must ban ANY noxious substance used to addict consumers for the purposes of increased profits…. lest we forget what “cigarettes” did to tobacco, how it killed millions of people and it’s still “legal.” go figure…