Marijuana Legalization in Canada

marijuana legalization

Rarely does a day go by when one news report or other isn’t talking about the state of marijuana in Canada. The topic specifics vary – the recently-formed task force, reactions of political representatives from municipal to federal, input from the latest dispensary owner – but as the legal landscape continues to change, we’re bound to continue hearing about marijuana from citizens, medical personnel, and politicians alike.

So, as of early August 2016, what is the cannabis condition in Canada?

Who Can Buy?

Will there be a standardized minimum age for marijuana buyers in Canada? Should people need to be 18, the required age to buy cigarettes and lottery tickets, or 19, the required age to buy alcohol in most provinces?

Having each province’s elected individuals determine their own minimum age could cause confusion across borders, but Bill Blair – the justice minister’s parliamentary secretary – did say last month that a set, cross-Canada age for cannabis consumption may not be in the cards.1 A few provinces have a legal drinking age of 18 (Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec) while others set the bar age to 19, and it sounds like cannabis could take the same route.

Are Dispensaries Legal?

As Canadian law currently stands, only those businesses supplied by one of the country’s few Licensed Producers are operating legally. Unfortunately, these businesses are mail-order only, a set-up that doesn’t necessarily work for every patient.

As most people know, possession of marijuana is legal in Canada only for those with a doctor’s go-ahead, and then only in small amounts for personal use. So, technically, marijuana dispensaries – whether they cater solely to medical users or proclaim their willingness to sell to anyone of age – are “guilty” of trafficking.

Despite this, stores selling marijuana and cannabis products are soldiering on, and many of them are being allowed to do so. New dispensaries are popping up like daisies, attaining business licenses (or not), and operating like any other legitimate business, complete with friendly and knowledgeable staff and their own set of stringent product regulations.3

Cannabis and Driving

If, pending legalization, public use of marijuana will be regulated like alcohol, the government will want to have some kind of detection method for users driving under the influence. At the moment, such a test does not exist.

Apparently, a roadside saliva test is one of the possibilities, and this test could actually indicate other drugs in the driver’s system as well. While this may be promising, a minimum limit must be agreed upon (even if that limit is zero). There is also the question of whether every driver with marijuana in their system is necessarily “under the influence”. (In other words, does the test still show presence of marijuana once the debilitating effects have faded?)

At the beginning of October, Ontario police will be granted the right to issue short driving suspensions to drivers they believe are under the influence of drugs. It will be interesting to see how that goes!3

It’s no wonder most of the country is confused about the laws surrounding marijuana sale and use. Advocates seem to be torn between excitement at the prospect of legalization and concern that their hopes have been raised far too high, or at least far too soon.

Whatever the government has in store for Canada’s marijuana policy, we at Growers Choice will do our best to keep you apprised through social media, and through blogs for those big ticket issues. We wholeheartedly support the right of individuals to obtain and use this promising natural medication!


1The Globe and Mail
2The Ottawa Sun
3The Toronto Sun

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