Canada’s cannabis laws: do’s and don’ts
By Enzo DiMatteo
By ERIK TANNER
Know your limit
If you are 19 years of age or older (18 in Alberta and Quebec), you can carry up to 30 grams, that’s just over an ounce, of dried cannabis in public.
You can also grow a maximum of four plants (except in Manitoba and Quebec where growing at home is not permitted). But if you are a tenant you might be in from some grief from your landlord.
Where to smoke
This year’s Craft Beer Festival in Toronto turned its cigarette smokers lounge into a cannabis smoking lounge.
But the laws around cannabis use in public in Canada are more complicated.
In Ontario you can smoke and vape legally in public, but only where tobacco is allowed to be smoked. The exception is vehicles (moving or not) where smoking is strictly prohibited. Same goes for boats.
Partaking in the weed inside of an RV or camper van is legal, as long as it has a kitchen and permanent bed and is not moving (or going to move).
Most provincial governments are cool with smoking in parks and on sidewalks. Some provinces, however, have imposed restrictions on smoking near schools and playgrounds and other public areas used by children.
In fact, more than half the country’s provinces and territories (Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan and Yukon) do not permit cannabis use in public at all.
If you’re a homeowner, you’re in luck. For renters, however, it’s a different story. Some landlords and condo boards are fighting to ban cannabis use in their buildings. If a ban on smoking is not in your lease or condo agreement, you are probably safe for now.
Where not to smoke
You can smoke weed in designated areas in some hotels, retirement homes, hospices and veterans facilities. But in most provinces, including Ontario, you are not allowed to vape or smoke in restaurants or within 9 metres of a bar patio.
Same goes for smoking at the entrance and exit of public buildings like hospitals, psychiatric facilities and retirement homes. You are not allowed to smoke dope within 20 metres of publicly-owned spaces, including sports fields and nearby spectator stands. As well, you can’t smoke in reserved seating areas at outdoor sports and entertainment facilities.
You also can’t smoke at sheltered outdoor areas with a roof and more than two walls, such as a bus shelter. You can’t smoke on the grounds of community recreational centres or within 20 metres of such facilities.
When you’re holding
Transporting cannabis also comes with its own set of rules.
Quebec and New Brunswick are the only two provinces with no restrictions on transportation of pot. In B.C., you’re allowed to transport up to four cannabis plants, provided they are not flowering.
In general, however, weed being carried in public or transported in a vehicle must be kept in a sealed package and in a place that’s inaccessible to a driver or passengers, like your trunk.
Ontario has implemented zero tolerance for those under 21 caught driving under the influence of weed. Other provinces have followed suit, passing laws with stiff fines and suspension of license for first-time offenders, even though it’s broadly accepted by legal experts that the laws are open to Charter challenge.
Commercially manufactured edibles and concentrates remain illegal across the country, although regulations are scheduled to be in place by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, if you’re a visitor to Canada from a country where cannabis is not legal, it may be risky for you to smoke pot in Canada. So check before sharing your first high on Facebook. The day before Canada legalized cannabis, for example, the South Korean Embassy in Canada warned on Twitter: “Even if South Koreans are in a region where marijuana is legal, it will be illegal for them to consume it.”
The South Korea Times later quoted an official saying that “Weed smokers will be punished according to Korean law, even if they did so in countries where smoking marijuana is legal. There won’t be an exception.” Jail time could be as much as five years. Play it cool.
Only cannabis sold by private or public retailers under provincial oversight, or sold by government-run retailers, is legal. The proof is in the packaging.
Don’t make a “rookie move”
This is important: if you are new to smoking cannabis, start with a few puffs and feel it out. Same goes for edibles. Don’t smoke past the point of getting high (yes, it’s possible).
If you do get too high, one home remedy recommends sniffing lemons or cloves. Strong scents are said to mitigate the effects of THC.
Like cigarette smoke, not every one is interested in breathing second hand weed. It’s always a good idea to ask the people around you if they have any objections before you fire up. Not everyone is a doobie brother.