Cannabis Legalization and Regulation

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    Cannabis Legalization and Regulation

    Cannabis will be legal as of October 17, 2018.

    The Cannabis Act creates a strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada. The Act aims to accomplish 3 goals:

    • keep cannabis out of the hands of youth
    • keep profits out of the hands of criminals
    • protect public health and safety by allowing adults access to safe, legal cannabis

    Controlling access

    At coming into force on October 17th, 2018, subject to provincial or territorial restrictions, adults who are 18 years of age or older would be able legally to:

    • possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis, dried or equivalent in non-dried form in public
    • share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults
    • buy dried or fresh cannabis and cannabis oil from a provincially-licensed retailer
      • in provinces and territories without a regulated retail framework, individuals would be able to purchase cannabis online from federally-licensed producers
    • grow, from licensed seed or seedlings, up to 4 cannabis plants per residence for personal use
    • make cannabis products, such as food and drinks, at home as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products

    Cannabis edible products and concentrates will be legal for sale approximately one year after the Cannabis Act has come into force on October 17th, 2018.

    Possession limits for cannabis products

    The possession limits in the Cannabis Act are based on dried cannabis. Equivalents were developed for other cannabis products to identify what their possession limit would be. One (1) gram of dried cannabis is equal to:

    • 5 grams of fresh cannabis
    • 15 grams of edible product
    • 70 grams of liquid product
    • 0.25 grams of concentrates (solid or liquid)
    • 1 cannabis plant seed

    This would mean, for example, that an adult 18 years of age or older, can legally possess 150 grams of fresh cannabis.

    Cannabis for medical purposes

    The current regime for medical cannabis will continue to allow access to cannabis for people who have the authorization of their healthcare provider.

    Protecting youth

    The Cannabis Act has several measures that help prevent youth from accessing cannabis. These include both age restrictions and restricting promotion of cannabis.

    Age restrictions

    No person may sell or provide cannabis to any person under the age of 18. The Act creates 2 new criminal offences, with maximum penalties of 14 years in jail, for:

    • giving or selling cannabis to youth
    • using a youth to commit a cannabis-related offence

    Restricting promotion and enticement

    Similar to the current restrictions on advertising for tobacco products, the Cannabis Act helps discourage youth cannabis use by prohibiting:

    • products that are appealing to youth
    • packaging or labelling cannabis in a way that makes it appealing to youth
    • selling cannabis through self-service displays or vending machines
    • promoting cannabis, except in narrow circumstances where young people could not see the promotion

    Penalties for violating these prohibitions include a fine of up to $5 million or 3 years in jail.

    Protecting public health

    The Act protects public health through creating strict safety and quality regulations. In addition, public education efforts will raise awareness about safety measures and any potential health risks.

    Strict regulation

    Federal, provincial and territorial governments share responsibility for overseeing the proposed new system.

    The Federal government’s responsibilities are to set:

    • strict requirements for producers who grow and manufacture cannabis
    • industry-wide rules and standards, including:
      • types of cannabis products available for sale
      • packaging and labelling requirements for products
      • standardized serving sizes and potency
      • prohibitions on the use of certain ingredients
      • good production practices
      • tracking requirements of cannabis from seed to sale to keep it out of the illegal market
      • restrictions on promotional activities

    Provinces and territories are responsible for developing, implementing, maintaining and enforcing systems to oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis. They would also be able to add their own safety measures, such as:

    • increasing the minimum age in their province or territory (but not lowering it)
    • lowering the personal possession limit in their jurisdiction
    • creating additional rules for growing cannabis at home, such as lowering the number of plants per residence
    • restricting where adults can consume cannabis, such as in public or in vehicles

    Public education

    The Government of Canada has committed close to $46 million over the next five years for cannabis public education and awareness activities. These are to inform Canadians, especially youth, of the health and safety risks of cannabis consumption.

    Reducing criminal activity

    More than half of all drug offences reported by police are cannabis-related. In 2016 approximately 23,000 cannabis-related charges were laid. A criminal record resulting from a cannabis offence, even a minor possession charge, can have serious and lifelong implications for the person charged. In allowing the production and possession of legal cannabis for adults, the Act will help keep Canadians who consume cannabis, out of the criminal justice system. This will also reduce the burden on the courts.

    Criminal penalties

    Under the Act, newly defined offences will target those acting outside of the legal framework, such as organized crime. Penalties will be set in proportion to the seriousness of the offence. Sanctions would range from warnings and tickets for minor offences to criminal prosecution and imprisonment for more serious offences. New offences will also be created specifically targeting people who make cannabis available to youth.

    Possession over the limit
    • tickets for small amounts
    • up to 5 years in jail
    Illegal distribution or sale
    • tickets for small amounts
    • up to 14 years in jail
    Producing cannabis beyond personal cultivation limits or with combustible solvents
    • tickets for small amounts
    • up to 14 years in jail
    Taking cannabis across Canada’s borders
    • up to 14 years in jail
    Giving or selling cannabis to a person under 18
    • up to 14 years in jail
    Using a youth to commit a cannabis-related offence
    • up to 14 years in jail

    Further penalties related to cannabis-impaired driving have also been included in the drug-impaired driving legislation, along with impairment rules for other drugs such as:

    • LSD
    • heroin
    • cocaine
    • psilocybin (magic mushrooms)

    More information

    Please visit Cannabis in Canada for more information on cannabis:

    • safety risks
    • health effects
    • transportation
    • licensed production
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