Is all weed legal in Canada?
About a month before the Cannabis Act came into effect (on Oct. 17, 2018), I had the good fortune to become a Canadian citizen, after a little over seven years of living here. I got to swear allegiance to the Queen, sing ‘O, Canada’ awkwardly in a room of about 125 new citizens — the whole nine yards. It was a happy moment. They even give you a little lapel pin of the Canadian flag.
It seems like the right time, too, historically: a new country under Cannabis. Especially when you compare to… neighboring kingdoms. Parks Canada wisely is allowing use (Global News, Oct. 15, 2018) in certain parks settings. According to CBC (Oct. 18, 2018), the government is “expedite the processing of pardons for people with minor cannabis-related criminal records.” This figure is expected to pass 500,000 persons. Incredible.
Not surprisingly though, there is a lot of confusion out there as to what the implications of the Cannabis Act are — or will be — on people, and on society. Since we are only two days in, we will have to wait and see to some extent.
One thing I have been wondering about, in comparing online cannabis products, is whether it would be permissible under the current regime to order from other provinces.
A Vox headline from Oct. 17, legalization day read: “Toronto police to Canadians: stop snitching on your neighbors about marijuana.”
TelesurTV on Oct. 4 reporting on the Ministry of Transport, said that domestic air travelers in Canada would be allowed up to 30 grams.
Does this mean we do or don’t have the right to buy it while visiting another province? What about having it shipped?
Caveat: I’m not a lawyer
I’m not a lawyer. I’m just some guy on the internet. And I know how to use Google. So I started perusing the actual full text of the Cannabis Act.
Reading that (okay, skimming), a few things jump out at me regarding possession:
“8 (1) Unless authorized under this Act, it is prohibited […]
(b) for an individual who is 18 years of age or older to possess any cannabis that they know is illicit cannabis;”
Which, if you’re wondering, here is the definition in the act of ‘illicit cannabis’:
“illicit cannabis means cannabis that is or was sold, produced or distributed by a person prohibited from doing so under this Act or any provincial Act or that was imported by a person prohibited from doing so under this Act. (cannabis illicite).”
So what does this mean in practical terms, re: the legality of cannabis in Canada?
Again, not a lawyer, but I think it means “not all cannabis” is necessarily legal.
#notallcannabis And there may be consequences, though it’s opaque at this time what that means in a world where pardons are being expedited for minor offenses.
Knowledge of source
Given the wording of the above passages, though, it can get a bit confusing as to whether a given source of cannabis is illicit or not from the point of view of the consumer, who just wants to enjoy legal products.
To illustrate what I mean, take a gander at this PDF resource from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction of provincial and territorial regulations (Sept. 6, 2018).
And I’m not sure who makes it but the website Pot By Province has some interesting charts and figures around untangling this topic of what is allowed where. (See also their strongly worded disclaimer).
I recommend visiting their site as it’s quite interesting, but here is a little illustrated example of how provinces differ in whether pot is managed at a provincial level by the government or by private actors.
While I’m a new Canadian — and admittedly even still get confused about all the names of some of the western provinces “in the middle” — this is all kind of a lot to take in when you look at it nationally.
Early product availability
Undoubtedly, the safest course of action for canna-curious Canadians will be to source their pot from provincially authorized dealers. But of course there is going to be some product envy when British Columbians can buy a “discovery pack” of 3 certified organic oils for $139.99 CAD (or $106.768 USD, at current xe.com rates)
I know I won’t be the only one asking: why can’t my province source certified organic products? I’m willing to pay a little more for quality. It’s a market niche.
Here is a scraped document someone on Reddit put together of BC Cannabis Store products. And another for Ontario.
Of course, we’re still only two days in. These things will all be worked out in time. But with talk in the news (The Hill, Oct. 18) that government suppliers are already running out in some places, it’s only natural for consumers to wonder whether the promised availability of legal products — even within one’s own province — will be delivered.
Meanwhile, Reddit users on r/canadients have been posting pictures of their legal buys as they roll in. Here’s one imgur gallery from Ontario (OCS — Ontario Cannabis Store), and another (not sure of province on this one).
As my first personal legal order has not yet arrived (ordered online around noon of Oct. 17), I will hold off on any attempts to vicariously review these products, apart from highlighting early consumer complaints around wasteful packaging. I’ve seen a number of pictures now, and I think I agree.
But hey, at least it’s legal now! Everything has to start somewhere. Though whether the government will pass through the initial supply bottleneck and succeed in biting into at least 30% of the black market remains to be seen (The Globe and Mail, Oct. 15).
Until next time!
This opinion piece is for artistic/educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical or legal advice. The author did not receive compensation for this review.