What Canadians need to know about cannabis legalization
What you need to know about cannabis
On this page
- Public education resources
- Indigenous communities
- The legalization and regulation of cannabis
- Edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals
- Adult possession of cannabis
- Laws in your area
- Identifying legal cannabis products
- Travelling with cannabis
- Consuming cannabis
- Growing cannabis
- Access to cannabis for medical purposes
- Funding for cannabis public education and research
- Drug-impaired driving
Public education resources
A number of information tools and resources about cannabis are available.
We continue to engage with Indigenous governments, organizations and communities to:
- understand the views of Indigenous peoples on legalizing and regulating cannabis
- increase awareness of the Cannabis Act
We have compiled a list of cannabis-related resources for use by Indigenous groups to lead public discussions in their communities.
The legalization and regulation of cannabis
On October 17, 2018, the Cannabis Act came into force.
It puts in place, in Canada, a new, strict framework for controlling cannabis:
The purpose of the Cannabis Act is to:
- prevent youth from accessing cannabis
- displace the illegal cannabis market
Protecting the health and safety of youth is a top priority. The Cannabis Act establishes serious criminal penalties for those who:
- sell or provide cannabis to youth
- use youth to commit a cannabis offence
The Cannabis Act also protects public health and safety by:
- setting rules for adults to access quality-controlled cannabis
- creating a new, tightly regulated supply chain
Adults who are 18 or 19 years or older (depending on province or territory) are able to:
- possess up to 30 grams of legal dried cannabis, or its equivalent in non-dried form, in public
- share up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent with other adults
- buy cannabis products from a provincial or territorial retailer
- grow up to 4 plants per residence (not per person) for personal use:
- from legally acquired seeds or seedlings
- depending on the province or territory
Possession, production, distribution and sale outside of what the law allows remains illegal and subject to criminal penalties, ranging from:
- up to a maximum penalty of 14 years' imprisonment
In addition, the Cannabis Act prohibits:
- products that are appealing to youth
- packaging or labelling in a way that makes it appealing to youth
- selling through self-service displays or vending machines
- any promotion of cannabis, cannabis accessories, or services related to cannabis, unless authorized under the Cannabis Act
Edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals
On October 17, 2019, the production and sale of edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals became legal in Canada under the Cannabis Act, by:
- provincial and territorial retailers
- federally licensed sellers of cannabis for medical purposes
It will take time before the new cannabis products become available for purchase. Adults should only expect a limited selection to appear gradually, in physical or online stores, and no earlier than mid-December 2019. It will take more time before a full range of products becomes available.
These products are subject to strict regulations, to address their unique public health and safety risks.
The Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation recommended that the Government of Canada permit the legal sale of these products once regulatory controls were in place. Giving adults legal access to a broader range of cannabis products will help to achieve the Government's objectives of:
- displacing the illegal market
- keeping profits out of the hands of criminals and organized crime
Laws in your area
Each province and territory also has its own rules for cannabis, including:
- legal minimum age
- where adults may buy it
- where adults may use it
- how much adults may possess
You must respect the laws of the province, territory or Indigenous community you are in, whether you are a visitor or live there.
Municipalities may also pass bylaws to regulate the use of cannabis locally.
Review your provincial and territorial guidelines. Also check your municipality's website for local information.
Identifying legal cannabis products
Legal cannabis products are only sold through retailers authorized by your provincial or territorial government.
Legal cannabis products (except products with less than 0.3% THC or no THC) have an excise stamp on the package. Each province and territory has a differently coloured excise stamp. The stamp has security features to prevent forgery, just like passports and banknotes.
To give information on risks of use, legal cannabis products also carry the:
Adults are legally able to purchase fresh and dried cannabis, cannabis oils and seeds or plants for cultivation from authorized retailers.
It will take time for the following new cannabis products to be available for purchase:
- edible cannabis
- cannabis extracts
- cannabis topicals
Adults should only expect a limited selection to appear gradually, in physical or online stores, and no earlier than mid-December 2019. It will take more time before a full range of products becomes available.
These products are subject to strict regulations that address their unique public health and safety risks.
It's illegal to take any cannabis across the Canadian border, regardless whether:
- for medical or non-medical purposes
- you're coming into Canada, or leaving
This applies to all countries, whether cannabis is legal there or not.
When you are travelling within Canada, you may possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent, if you meet the minimum age requirement of the province or territory you are in.
It's your responsibility to learn the laws of the province or territory you are going to, before you travel. If you use cannabis, follow the laws in the jurisdiction where you are.
It became lawful on October 17, 2019 for legal forms of edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals to be produced and sold. It will take time before new products become available. You should only expect a limited selection of new products to appear gradually, in physical or online stores, beginning no earlier than mid-December 2019.
If you have any health issues, or have questions about the effects of cannabis on your health, you should speak to your health care provider.
If you use cannabis, learn how to use it responsibly and to reduce risks for yourself and others:
- Start with small amounts - 2.5 mg of THC or less for products that you eat or drink or 100 mg/g of THC or less for products that you inhale.
- Avoid smoking cannabis. The smoke from cannabis contains the same harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke.
- Avoid frequent use. Daily or near-daily use over months or years increases the risk of dependence and may bring on or worsen disorders related to:
- Don't drive or operate heavy equipment after using cannabis. Cannabis can cause drowsiness and impair your ability to concentrate and make quick decisions.
- If you choose to consume cannabis, delay use to later in life. Teenagers and young adults are at greater risk of harms because the brain continues to develop until around the age of 25.
You may not sell the cannabis you grow at home to others.
There are recommended safety and security measures for growing cannabis plants.
Growing for sale
You need to be licensed by Health Canada to be able to grow cannabis for sale.
In some cases, you may also need a licence from the Canada Revenue Agency to sell cannabis. Legal cannabis products must carry an excise stamp, except those products with less than 0.3% THC or no THC.
Access to cannabis for medical purposes
We are committed to keeping a distinct system for giving patients reasonable access to cannabis for medical purposes.
Cannabis for medical purposes will continue to be legal if you are:
- authorized by a health care provider
- registered with a licensed seller or with Health Canada
Funding for cannabis public education and research
We fund community-based and Indigenous public education and research initiatives. To apply for funding please see the Substance Use and Addictions Program - Call for Proposals - Guidelines for Applicants.
Drug-impaired driving is illegal. Do not drive high.
Law enforcement is trained to detect drug-impaired driving.
Learn more about detecting drug-impaired driving under Cannabis impairment.
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