The Rules for Using and Buying Marijuana in Ontario
Recreational Marijuana (also known as Cannabis) has been legal to possess, use and buy in Canada since October 17, 2018. However, different provinces can apply their own sets of rules and laws around the purchase and use of this drug.
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In Ontario, the laws are roughly aligned to the existing provincial legislation covering alcohol and tobacco. So, what are the rules pertaining to buying and using marijuana?
To buy, use or possess Marijuana, you must be at least 19 years old in most provinces. Sharing it with, or purchasing for, anyone under this age is a criminal offense.
There are rigorous rules pertaining to Marijuana sales which are set by the federal government.
Only authorized retail sellers are eligible to supply cannabis. This applies to online sales as well as purchases made in physical stores. Either means of purchase is restricted to 30 grams (approx 1oz) of marijuana for the sole use of personal consumption.
Within Ontario, each municipality has its own authority in deciding whether or not to allow cannabis retail stores within its jurisdiction and, if allowed, where such stores will be located within their towns or cities.
It is illegal to purchase Marijuana from any individual or organization that is not authorized to sell it by the state of Ontario.
Rules regarding growing Marijuana are based on a per-residence basis, not per-person. It is legal to grow a maximum of 4 Marijuana plants per residence and seeds or seedlings can be purchased through authorized sellers only.
You are only permitted to use Marijuana in the locations listed below. Even in these locations, it is illegal to hold more than 30 grams (approx 1oz) at any time. Cannabis can be used in the following locations:
- Anywhere within the boundary of your private residence (including outdoor areas).
- Within your apartment/unit/condo, including your balcony, for multi-unit dwellers (depending on your individual building’s rules and/or lease agreement).
- Outdoor public spaces such as parks (see below for restriction) or sidewalks.
You’re not permitted to use weed in the following locations:
- Care or retirement homes.
- Places where children gather such as parks, playgrounds or child-care facilities.
- Places of work.
- In motor vehicles.
- Places owned by the public (sports fields, public library).
- Bar and restaurant patios.
- Outdoor sheltered areas for public use such as bus shelters.
These restrictions are in place to protect the public from second-hand cannabis use and reduce its exposure to vulnerable people.
Contravention of these rules can result in the following fines:
- 1st Offence – $1,000
- Repeat Offence $5,000
Driving Whilst Under the Influence of Marijuana
It is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs, including Marijuana. When under its influence, your reaction time is cut and your chances of being in a road traffic accident increases.
Penalties for impaired driving caused by Marijuana may include:
- Immediate suspended driver’s license.
- Financial penalties.
- Impounding of vehicle.
- Criminal record.
- Custodial sentence.
Ontario Police have the interim authority to measure your level of intoxication on the roadside using a breathalyzer-type device. Federally-approved devices for measuring Marijuana intoxication levels, once introduced, will assist police officers in the enforcement of this law.
There is a policy of Zero Tolerance when it comes to Marijuana levels for new drivers. You will be screened using a federally-approved screening device if:
- You are 21 years of age or under.
- Your license is G1, G2, M1 or M2.
- You are driving a commercial vehicle.
- You are driving a vehicle that requires an A-F license.
- You are driving road-building plant.
If you would like further information on the penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana, please visit the Ministry of Transportation website.
Potential Health Risks of Consuming Cannabis
Like any drug, there are associated risks to your health from prolonged Marijuana consumption.
Brain function can be impaired in terms of your attention, your memory and your ability to learn. You may experience these symptoms at any age. However, the younger you are when you first use Marijuana, the more severe these symptoms are likely to be, as the brain continues to develop up to the age of 25.
Marijuana use is not recommended if you are pregnant or are breast-feeding as it can affect the fetus or child. Lower birth weights are more likely if it is used during pregnancy. Also, the chemical THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) can affect an infant’s brain development.
There are also other possible adverse side effects of THC for your child such as:
- Memory or attention disorders
- Impulse control
- Lower academic performance
- Chest pain
Regardless of the federal and provincial laws regarding Marijuana within Canada, it still remains illegal to take it out or bring it into the country. Attempting to bring any cannabis products into Canada from ANY other country is a serious criminal offense.
If you are a Marijuana user and you are traveling abroad before you travel you should research the laws of the country you are visiting so that you know its policy on the use, possession, and buying of Marijuana.
Whilst abroad, if you contravene the drug laws of the country you are in, you will be subject to the laws of that country. If you have previously been recorded as having used Marijuana prior to its legalization, you may not be granted entry to a country, regardless of your Canadian citizenship.
The majority of countries have stringent anti-drug laws and zero-tolerance policy towards offenders. Extremely severe sentences can be passed for possession of even the smallest of quantities of drugs.
Traveling to the United States
Regardless of your destination being a state that has legalized marijuana use, it is still illegal to enter the United States in the possession of it. If found in possession of Marijuana, you could be denied entry or face legal charges that could result in a custodial sentence.
More Information on Marijuana
There are a host of portals available for more information regarding recreational Marijuana use. Here are a few: