What are the Current Marihuana Laws in Canada?

January 19, 2018

Currently it is still illegal to grow marihuana at home, unless licences to do so for medical purposes.

  • As the recreational use of marihuana grows, it is important to note that marihuana remains a controlled substance, prohibited under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act.
  • Possessing and selling marihuana for non-medical purposes is still illegal everywhere in Canada.
  • Marihuana dispensaries are not licensed by Health Canada and under the current law are also illegal. The federal government and law enforcement attempt to justify their stance against dispensaries stating that the marihuana in dispensaries may be supplied by illegal growers and the marihuana sold therefore may be untested, unregulated and unsafe for users.
  • Growing marihuana at home for purposes such as recreational or commercial use with the exception of medicinal purposes is also against the law.
  • As of 2016, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) allows individuals who have been authorized by their doctor to register with Health Canada to produce a limited amount of marihuana for their own medical purposes.
  • However, you may only start producing marihuana plants once you receive a Health Canada registration certificate.
  • The daily dosage varies considerably per person and determines how many cannabis plants are allowable for government licensed personal cultivation and medical use.
  • In general, every one gram of dried marihuana authorized will result in the production of five plants indoors or two plants outdoors.
  • There are  many calculators available online to determine how many plants can be grown at home based on medical daily dosages.
  • You must operate within the limits set out in your registration certificate, and abide by your maximum plant limit, your maximum storage limit, and your maximum possession limit.
  • You are only authorized to produce a limited amount of marihuana for your own medical purposes and you cannot share or provide it to anyone else.
  • Under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), it is your responsibility to make sure that all marihuana plants or cannabis products in your possession for medical purposes are safe, secure, and that other people cannot access them.
  • In regards to growing cannabis plants indoors, it is important to ensure that there is enough ventilation to remove excess moisture and humidity to stop mold from building up on your plants or in the building.
  • If you decide to make changes to the structure of your home or your electrical system, you should seek the advice of a licensed professional to ensure that you are in compliance with municipal and provincial/territorial building codes.
  • Under the ACMPR, if you are producing outdoors, the boundary of the land where you are authorized to produce cannot have any points in common with the boundary of the land where a school, public playground, or other public place frequented mainly by persons under 18 years of age is located.
  • You may want to consider installing a tall fence with a locking gate or an alarm system to help keep your production area secure. As for storing marihuana, you may want to consider installing locks on the doors to all areas where you produce or store cannabis.
  • If you have children you may also want to ensure that cannabis and cannabis products are stored in childproof containers to avoid accidental ingestion.
  • As the above information is regulated by the current marihuana laws, if the much-anticipated Cannabis Act is passed under the Liberal Government with a target date of July 2018, these laws will change.
  • The proposed Cannabis Act would create a strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis across Canada.
  • The new act aims to restrict youth access to marihuana, protect young people from promotion or enticements to use marihuana, deter and reduce criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those breaking the law, protect public health through strict product safety and quality requirements, reduce the burden on the criminal justice system, provide for the legal production of cannabis to reduce illegal activities, allow adults to possess and access regulated, quality controlled legal marihuana, and enhance public awareness of the health risks associated with marihuana.
  • Should the Cannabis Act become law by July 2018, adults who are 18 years or older would be able to legally possess up to 30 grams of legal dried cannabis or equivalent in non-dried form, share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults, and purchase dried or fresh cannabis and cannabis oil from a provincially-licensed retailer.
  • In those provinces that have not yet or choose not to put in place a regulated retail framework, individuals would be able to purchase cannabis online from a federally-licensed producer, grow up to 4 cannabis plants per residence for personal use from licensed seed or seedlings, make cannabis products, such as food and drinks at home provided that organic solvents are not used.
  • The federal government’s responsibilities also include setting strict requirements for producers who grow cannabis, standardized serving sizes and potency, prohibiting the use of certain ingredients, and good production practices.
  • The provinces and territories could also lower the personal possession limit in their jurisdiction and create additional rules for growing cannabis at home, such as lowering the number of plants per residence.
  • It is important to note that cannabis will remain illegal as the bill moves through the legislative process. The current program for accessing cannabis for medical purposes would continue under the new Act.
  • If you have been charged with a criminal offence please contact Kostman and Pyzer, Barristers today for your free consultation!
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