Cannabis Made Clear
Learn What’s Legal (and What’s Not) for Ontario Cannabis Consumers
Yes, cannabis is legal in Canada, but there are limits on possession, sales, consumption and travel. Here are some tips to help you ensure you’re staying within the law and consuming responsibly.
Cannabis has been legal in Canada since Oct. 17, 2018. With legalization came a series of federal regulations that govern legal cannabis, which are contained in the Cannabis Act.
Certain restrictions, including those on cannabis possession limits, buying and selling, consumption and travelling with cannabis, vary from province to province. While this system may seem complicated, the laws are designed to keep consumers safe.
Here’s how these federal regulations apply specifically to Ontario cannabis consumers.
The Cannabis Act regulates possession limits, or how much cannabis a consumer can have. In Canada, you are allowed to have a maximum of 30 g (about 1 oz) of dried cannabis (or the equivalent) in public at any time. When you shop at OCS.ca, your shopping cart automatically converts all cannabis products into the equivalent of dried cannabis.
One gram of dried cannabis is equal to:
- 5 g of fresh cannabis
- 15 g of solids containing cannabis (such as edibles)
- 70 g of non-solids containing cannabis (such as oils), excluding beverages
- 570 g of cannabis beverages
- 0.25 g of cannabis concentrates (solid or liquid)
- One cannabis plant seed
If you’re found guilty of possession over the limit, you could face a ticket (for small amounts) or up to five years in jail. You could also face penalties — from a ticket to 14 years in jail — for cultivating cannabis beyond the personal limit, which is four plants per residence.
The Cannabis Act also regulates how much THC a product can contain. Knowing the limits can help you distinguish a regulated cannabis product from an unregulated one — here’s how.
Buying or selling unregulated cannabis
Legal cannabis is subject to industry-wide rules and standards. These rules, which help ensure consumer safety, regulate what types of cannabis products are permitted for sale and their packaging and labelling, serving sizes and potency. A provincially authorized licence is required to sell cannabis. There are penalties for anyone who sells cannabis without a licence, such as a $5,000 fine or up to 14 years in prison.
There are also penalties for possessing unregulated cannabis products, from a $150 fine for possession of small quantities of unregulated cannabis to criminal charges. Here’s how to determine whether your cannabis source is legal.
The Cannabis Act includes several measures intended to help protect youth. Selling or giving cannabis to someone under the age of 18 is illegal, as is using someone under 18 to commit a cannabis-related offence. (Provinces and territories can raise the minimum legal age — in Ontario, it’s 19 years or older.) Both are criminal offences, with maximum penalties of 14 years in jail. Enticing youth to consume cannabis is also prohibited; acts such as labelling cannabis in a way that makes it appealing to youth or selling cannabis through a self-service display can result in penalties that include fines of up to $5 million or three years in jail.
Driving under the influence of cannabis
Driving while under the influence of cannabis is illegal — and these laws can be enforced even if you’re not showing signs of impairment.
There’s zero tolerance for young (under 21), novice (holding a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence) and commercial drivers, meaning they cannot have any THC in their blood while driving. Penalties for all drivers may include fines, an immediate licence suspension, mandatory education programs, vehicle impoundment, a criminal record and jail time. The laws apply whether you’re driving a car, truck, boat, snowmobile or off-road vehicle.
It’s also illegal to consume cannabis in a vehicle or boat that’s being driven (or will be driven after consumption). If cannabis is being transported in a motorized vehicle, it must be in the original packaging and unopened, or wrapped and tightly sealed (or otherwise not easily accessible to the driver or passengers).
Since the effects of cannabis vary from person to person, as does the rate that cannabis leaves the body’s systems, there is no perfect way to determine your impairment level. The method of consumption adds another set of variables: Some experts conclude that inhalation can impair your driving skills for six to eight hours, while ingesting cannabis can impair them for eight to 12, and some effects of cannabis, such as drowsiness, can last 24 hours. Err on the safe side and arrange for a ride after consuming cannabis.
Find out more about the effects of cannabis impairment on your driving here.
Travelling with cannabis
If you’re travelling within Canada, you’re generally permitted to transport the legal limit of cannabis in either your carry-on or your checked luggage. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority offers guidelines for the transportation of cannabis. Ensure you check the legal age for cannabis possession and consumption, as well as where you are legally permitted to consume it, for the province or territory you’re travelling to — it varies across the country.
When it comes to international travel, you must leave cannabis at home. As per the Cannabis Act, taking cannabis across the Canadian border could land you up to 14 years in jail. And, since cannabis is not legal in most other countries, you could also face stiff penalties in the country you are visiting.
Read more about Canada’s cannabis laws and regulations here.
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