LOONIES & TOONIES & DOOBIES

Your complete guide to buying and smoking weed in Canada

Getting high has different rules across the country.
Getting high has different rules across the country.
Image: REUTERS/Chris Wattie
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Canada will become the first G7 country to legalize recreational marijuana nationwide today (Oct. 17). In the months leading up to this landmark move, cannabis companies have closed hundred-million-dollar deals, pot stocks have soared, and even Coca-Cola has announced it’s looking to invest in the weed industry.

Different provinces and territories, however, have their own rules on how Canadians can buy or consume weed. For instance, the legal age to purchase cannabis is 19 everywhere except for Alberta and Quebec, where you can be 18. Other points of variation include possession limits, where people are allowed to smoke, and whether or not pot will be sold by private retailers or government-run stores.

Here’s a handy guide on how to buy and consume weed in Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories when the federal Cannabis Act comes into force.

Alberta

Possession:  Adults over 18 can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in a public space, there and no limit on possession in a private residence. When being transported by vehicle, any cannabis has to be secured in closed packaging and stored out of reach of any occupants.

Buying: Consumers can buy weed from privately run retail stores that receive approval from the Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis agency, or online through a website run by the AGLC. So far, the majority of physical stores will be in the Edmonton area.

Consumption: Consuming cannabis is allowed at home, and in public spaces where smoking tobacco is allowed.  But it is banned in all cannabis retail outlets, vehicles (except those used as a temporary residence, like a parked RV), and within a “prescribed distance” from playgrounds, sports fields, zoos, outdoor theatres, or outdoor pools.

British Columbia

Possession:  Adults over 19 can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in a public space, and a maximum of 1 kg at home.

Buying: You can buy from government-run physical and online stores, and eventually, private retail stores. However, only one government-run store in the province, located in Kamloops, is on track to open by Oct. 17. Over 100 private-store applications have been submitted and are being vetted, so the BC Liquor Distribution Branch’s online system will likely be the best option for a while.

Consumption: It’s allowed at home—unless it violates an existing lease where smoking tobacco is barred. Smoking marijuana is prohibited everywhere tobacco smoking is banned, “as well as at playgrounds, sports fields, skate park, and other places where children commonly gather,” according to British Columbia’s government website. It is also banned on school properties and in vehicles.

Manitoba

Possession:  Adults over 19 can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in a public space, and there is no limit at home.

Buying: Only Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries is allowed to actually procure cannabis for retail sale. The government agency then licenses (and regulates) private cannabis shops and online retailers to sell that cannabis. Already-licensed retailers include Canopy Growth, Delta 9, and Tokyo Smoke.

Consumption: Only allowed in private homes; it’s prohibited in all public spaces.

New Brunswick

Possession:  Adults over 19 can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in a public space, and there is no restriction on how much cannabis you can keep at home.

Buying: Consumers can only buy through Cannabis NB, a subsidiary of the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation, the government agency that will be responsible for all pot sales in the province. Cannabis NB plans for 20 stand-alone stores to open on Oct. 17. Online, you can also only purchase weed through Cannabis NB’s site.

Consumption: Allowed only in private residences, or land adjacent to private residences (e.g., in your backyard).

Newfoundland and Labrador

Possession:  Adults over 19 can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in a public space and at home.

Buying: You can buy at private retail stores (about 30 will be open starting Oct. 17) or online. The supply, distribution, and sale of cannabis both online and in-store will be regulated by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation.

Consumption: You are allowed to consume cannabis in private dwellings, in yards attached to a private dwelling, in hotel rooms, in apartment-building units, and in vehicles used as a temporary residence when not on the road—as long as the owner or landlord hasn’t set their own restrictions on cannabis use on their property. It is prohibited in public spaces, motor vehicles, and boats.

Northwest Territories

Possession:  Adults over 19 can possess up to 30 grams of dried a public space. In a vehicle, cannabis has to be secured in closed packaging and stored out of reach of all occupants. As of this writing, there is no limit on how much dried cannabis can be stored at home.

Buying: The Northwest Territories Liquor and Cannabis Commission is responsible for all sales—consumers can only buy online through the NTLCC (though as of writing, the website is not yet live) or in liquor stores that have NTLCC approval.

Consumption: Cannabis use is limited to private property where smoking tobacco is allowed, trails and roadways (when not operating a motor vehicle), and parks when not in use for a public event. It is prohibited in places that are frequented by children, such as playgrounds and sports grounds.

Nova Scotia

Possession:  Adults over 19 can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in a public space, and there is no restriction on how much you can keep at home if it is for personal use.

Buying: The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation is the only authorized retailer of cannabis. Consumers can buy from the NSLC in-store or online.

Consumption: You are allowed to consume cannabis in your own home. It is banned in vehicles for all occupants.

Nunavut

Possession:  Adults over 19 can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in a public space, and, as of this writing, Nunavut has not set a possession limit for how much cannabis can be stored at home, which is in line with federal law.

Buying: You can buy from the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission online, by phone, or in agency stores. The agency also has the legal right to bestow other “agents” with the right to sell cannabis on behalf of the government, and can license stores and lounges.

Consumption: Allowed in private residences, but not in public spaces, other than designated cannabis lounges, or at permitted events. It is also prohibited in vehicles and in areas frequented by youth, such as schools, hospitals, and playgrounds.

Fun fact: The territory’s official word for weed is the Inuktikut word, “surrarnaqtuq,” although it’s not always used in the government’s website.

Ontario

Possession:  Adults over 19 can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis in a public space, and there is no limit for at home.

Buying: For now, the online Ontario Cannabis Store is the only legal place to buy weed. The government has introduced legislation, that if passed, would allow sales at private retail stores starting April 2019.

Consumption: It is allowed in private residences, many public spaces, guest rooms in hotels, and residential vehicles and boats. It is prohibited in indoor common areas, schools and other places where children gather, hospitals, hospices, publicly owned sports fields, and other outdoor areas, like bar patios. (You can read Ontario’s comprehensive list here.)

Prince Edward Island

Possession:  Adults over 19 can possess up to 30 grams in a public space. There are no limits at home.

Buying: There will be four government-run cannabis retail stores in Prince Edward Island. Consumers can also purchase cannabis online.

Consumption: You are allowed to consume weed in private homes and attached yards, on vacant land with the consent of the owner, or in designated spaces for smoking in other residential areas such as rental units, or long-term care facilities. It’s illegal to consume cannabis in bars or restaurants.

Quebec

Possession:  Adults over 18 can possess up to 30 grams in a public space, and 150 grams at home.

Buying: The Société Québécoise du Cannabis will open 15 stores on Oct. 17, and expects to add five more by year’s end. You can also purchase cannabis via the SQDC online.

Consumption: You are allowed to smoke weed anywhere you are allowed to smoke tobacco. That means it is banned in restaurants, bars, bus shelters, playgrounds, workplaces, and within a nine-meter radius of building entrances.

Saskatchewan

Possession:  Adults over 19 can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, and as Saskatchewan’s government website does not specify if this is limited to public spaces, federal law states there is no cannabis possession limit at home.

Buying: You can buy online or in person, but only at private retail stores that have been licensed by Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority. At the moment, many of the region’s pot stores won’t be open in time for Oct. 17.

Consumption: Allowed in private residences but prohibited in all public spaces, including parks and playgrounds—it is also banned anywhere smoking tobacco is not allowed.

Yukon

Possession:  Adults over 19 can possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis on their person, and there is no limit to how much cannabis you can keep at home.

Buying: Cannabis will be available online from the Yukon Liquor Corporation, a government agency, which will also open one store in the city of Whitehorse. The territory’s website states: “Yukon’s plan is to enable private retail stores to operate under a licensing regime after legalization,” which means that privately owned stores will eventually be able to sell cannabis with the government of Yukon’s approval.

Consumption: You are only allowed to consume cannabis in private residences and adjoining properties.

 

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated incorrectly that Canada has 13 provinces. There are 10 provinces and three territories.