Canada legalizes and strictly regulates cannabis

News release

October 17, 2018 - Ottawa, ON - Government of Canada

The old approach to cannabis did not work. It let criminals and organized crime profit, while failing to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth. In many cases, it has been easier for our kids to buy cannabis than cigarettes.

After extensive consultation with law enforcement, health and safety experts, and the hard work of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, the Government of Canada today implemented a new legal framework that legalizes, strictly regulates and restricts access to cannabis.

Adults who are 18 or 19 years of age and older, depending on the province or territory, can now legally possess and purchase up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent from provincially or territorially authorized retailers. Possession of small amounts of cannabis is no longer a criminal offence.

The Cannabis Act will keep profits from going into the pockets of criminal organizations and street gangs. Additionally, the Government of Canada has created a new criminal offence to make it illegal to sell cannabis to a minor and added significant penalties for those who engage young Canadians in cannabis-related offences.

Drug-impaired driving has been a criminal offence since 1925. In addition to legalizing and strictly regulating cannabis, the Government has toughened laws around alcohol- and drug-impaired driving. The Government has a zero tolerance approach to impaired driving. Working in partnership with provinces, territories, municipalities and local communities, the Government has made appropriate investments to train and equip law enforcement so that Canada’s roads and highways are safe for all Canadians. The Government is investing $274 million into law enforcement and border efforts to deter drug-impaired driving and enforce new laws, including $81 million to provinces and territories. As of October 1, 2018, more than 13,000 law enforcement officers have been trained in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing and 833 officers have been certified as Drug Recognition Experts, and more officers are being trained on an ongoing basis.


“The Government of Canada is committed to keeping cannabis out of the hands of youth and keeping profits from criminals and organized crime. While we still have a lot of work to do, we are confident that the more than two years of work that went into this process have resulted in legislation that will help us achieve our public health and safety objectives.”

The Honourable Bill Blair
Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction

“The implementation of this progressive public policy marks an important shift in our country’s approach to cannabis. With a strictly regulated market for adults, we will help keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and profits out of the pockets of criminals. Along with new laws and regulations on cannabis, our Government has also implemented stronger laws on drug- and alcohol-impaired driving. I am very proud that Canada now has one of the toughest impaired driving regimes in the world.”

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“The coming into force of the Cannabis Act represents an important moment in Canadian drug policy. We have prioritized public health and safety to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth. We have taken a public health approach, and our public education initiatives are helping to ensure that Canadians have access to the facts, to help them understand the health effects of cannabis use, and to encourage them to make informed decisions.”

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

“From the very beginning, public safety has been at the forefront of the federal government’s approach to cannabis. Drug-impaired driving has been illegal in Canada since 1925 and yet it has been on the rise over the past several years. The percentage of Canadian drivers killed in vehicle crashes that test positive for drugs now actually exceeds the number who test positive for alcohol. If you use cannabis, don’t drive. Driving while impaired by cannabis or any other drug is dangerous and is a serious criminal offence. Law enforcement officers across the country are already trained to detect drug-impaired drivers and more will be trained in the coming months.”

The Honourable Ralph Goodale
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Quick facts

  • The Cannabis Act will better protect the health and safety of Canadians by keeping cannabis out of the hands of youth and profits out of the hands of criminals and organized crime.

  • With the coming into force of the Cannabis Act, there are key facts that Canadians need to know:

    • You must be of legal age (18 or 19 and older, depending on your province or territory) to legally buy, possess or use cannabis.
    • The Cannabis Act includes strict penalties for selling or providing cannabis to youth under the legal age.
    • Adults of legal age can possess up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis or equivalent in non-dried form in public.
    • Legal cannabis has an excise stamp appearing in different colours for each province and territory on product labels.
    • If you use cannabis, learn how to use it responsibly. Know the health effects. Like alcohol and tobacco, cannabis has risks, especially for youth and young adults.
    • Do not drive high or work while impaired. Like alcohol, cannabis impairs your ability to operate vehicles or equipment safely. Driving while impaired by cannabis or any other drug is a serious criminal offence.
    • If you possess cannabis, store it away from children, youth and pets.
    • Bringing cannabis or any product containing cannabis into Canada, or taking it out of Canada, is illegal and can result in serious criminal penalties at home and abroad. This is the case regardless of the amount and regardless of whether you are travelling to or arriving from places that have legalized or decriminalized cannabis. This applies even if cannabis is being used for medical purposes.
    • Cannabis is illegal in most countries. Previous use of cannabis, or any substance prohibited by local law, could result in a traveller being denied entry to his or her destination country.
    • Under the Cannabis Act, access to cannabis for medical purposes will continue to be provided to those who are authorized by their healthcare practitioner.
  • The Government of Canada has taken a public health and safety approach to the legalization and strict regulation of cannabis, and has established specific public health objectives:

    • educating Canadians about harms and risks;
    • reducing youth access and encouraging them to make healthy choices;
    • preventing problematic and high-risk patterns of use;
    • protecting Canadians through strict regulation of cannabis and vigilant oversight; and
    • monitoring trends and impacts to quickly respond to new risks and threats.
  • Continuing over the next several months, Canadians will see messages from the Government of Canada and their provincial or territorial government on the new legal framework and the health and safety facts about cannabis. This will include:

    • messages on how adults can use cannabis responsibly if they choose to do so,
    • the dangers of drug-impaired driving and workplace impairment, and
    • the critical importance of not travelling abroad with cannabis or bringing it into Canada when they return.
  • This expanded public education campaign builds on the campaign that began in March 2017 to inform Canadians, particularly youth and young adults, about the health facts of cannabis, and the dangers of driving while impaired by drugs.

  • In addition to the Cannabis Act, a number of supporting regulations and Ministerial Orders have also come into force:

    • Cannabis Regulations
    • Ministerial Order for the Cannabis Tracking and Licensing System
    • Ministerial Order for Cost Recovery
    • Cannabis requirements under the Excise Act
    • Amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

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Thierry Bélair
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

Célia Canon
Office of Jody Wilson-Raybould
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Scott Bardsley
Office of Ralph Goodale
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Marie-Emmanuelle Cadieux
Office of Bill Blair
Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction

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