On October 17, 2018, the Liberal government of Canada fulfilled its campaign promise to legalize cannabis across the country. Canada now joins Georgia, Uruguay and South Africa as one of the only four countries to have legalized recreational marijuana.
However, as Canadians line up to legally purchase cannabis from government-run stores, many are still confused about the legislation and the new rules surrounding the use of pot. In this article, we give a brief rundown of the things you should know about marijuana legalization in Canada.
No, you can’t light up in public (yet)
Currently, recreational cannabis users are limited to smoking in the privacy of their homes. However, a bill is currently making the rounds in Parliament that will permit marijuana to be smoked in areas where tobacco smoking is allowed.
Even with this bill in place, smoking will still be forbidden at workplaces, restaurants, terraces, children’s playgrounds and most other establishments. Pot use will also be restricted from those operating a vehicle of any kind and penalties can reach in the thousands for noncompliance.
Driving high is a major faux pas
Be warned, the penalties for driving after smoking cannabis are very harsh. They range from large fines to an extended stay in prison.
Those who wish to avoid being charged with an offence under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act would do well to steer clear of any motor vehicle if they plan on smoking that day. If you are pulled over while high, an officer has the right to administer a mandatory blood test and charge you with an offence if you refuse.
You can be banned from the United States
While the US has backtracked on its previous proposal to ban anyone working in the Canadian cannabis industry, border agents will still launch an in-depth investigation if they suspect you of cannabis use.
If agents discover any proof of purchase for legal marijuana, they will deny you entry to the United States and possibly even ban you for life. With this in mind, it is better to play it safe and have a stress-free trip by not consuming marijuana before traveling and never purchasing legal marijuana with a credit card.
Legalization is not a free-for-all
While recreational marijuana is now legal in Canada, there are still several limitations in terms of selling, possession and growing. Certain provinces like Quebec only permit government-run stores to sell marijuana while other provinces like Alberta allow private retail stores to sell under strict regulation.
Moreover, every province with the exception of Quebec allows for the possession of 30 grams of cannabis. Quebec allows for four times this amount. You should not, however, keep marijuana in your vehicle under any circumstances.
There is still much confusion surrounding this new legislation and we can assume that a trial-and-error period will follow for some time. In the meantime, it is important to always remain informed and be responsible and considerate when consuming any substance that can have harmful effects on your health and the well-being of those around you.