It is now legal to use cannabis in Canada and Canada has laws for both the non-medical use of cannabis and for the medical use of cannabis. This section has information on both of these laws.
Non-Medical Use of Cannabis
Bill C-45 – the Cannabis Act came into effect on October 17, 2018. The Bill makes it legal for adults to possess cannabis for non-medical personal use.
Key parts of the Cannabis Act are:
- Minimum age: Each province and territory will set the minimum age to legally buy, possess, grow, and use cannabis within their province or territory. In BC this age is 19 and over. It will continue to be a criminal offence to sell cannabis to a young person under the age of 19.
- Personal Possession: An adult can possess up to 30 grams in public.
- Retail and Distribution: Provincial and territorial governments will regulate retail sales and distribution within their area. In BC, cannabis will be managed and distributed by the Liquor and Cannabis Distribution Branch through Cannabis Stores and online.
- Public use: In BC, adults 19 and over can smoke or vape cannabis in public spaces that allow tobacco smoking and vaping. Use of cannabis is banned on all K-12 school properties, at playgrounds, sports fields, skate parks and other places where children commonly gather. Each post secondary institution will have their own policy. It is your responsibility to know where you can and cannot consume cannabis.
- Driving: It is illegal for the driver and passenger(s) to consume cannabis in the car. Just like with alcohol it is illegal to drive a car while under the influence of cannabis.
- Personal Cultivation: In BC adults 19 and over will be allowed to grow a maximum of four plants per household. You cannot grow plants in a space that can be seen from a public place such as parks, streets and sidewalks.
- Production: The federal government will regulate production and product standards.
- Promotion/advertising: Cannabis cannot be advertised or promoted.
Medical Use of Cannabis
Canadians have had legal access to Cannabis for relief of various symptoms of chronic illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, cancer and inflammatory bowel disease since 2001. The rules have changed over time. The Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations set out the current rules.
People who have a medical need and the authorization of their health care practitioner, are able to access cannabis in three ways. They can:
1. buy it by registering with a licensed producer
2. register with Health Canada to produce a limited amount for their own medical purposes
3. designate someone else to produce it for them. An individual with a medical need is allowed to possess an amount of cannabis sufficient to address their medical needs for 30 days, up to 150 grams of dried marijuana or the equivalent amount if in another form.
The rules for medical use of cannabis continue to exist under the new law that legalizes non-medical use of cannabis.
Travelling with Cannabis
Despite the fact that cannabis will become legal and regulated in Canada, it is still illegal to transport cannabis across Canada’s national borders. This means that although cannabis is legal in both Washington State and British Columbia, you cannot carry cannabis over the Canada/US border.
Travelling between provinces and territories
Cannabis laws are different in different provinces and territories. These laws state the legal age and where you can smoke, consume and buy cannabis. Check out the website of the province or territory you are going to before you visit so you know the laws.
When you travel, it is your responsibility to know the laws of the province, territory or country you plan to visit. This includes the legal status of cannabis use and possession. You must obey the laws of the province, territory or country you are in. The consequences for doing otherwise could be severe.
Want to explore and learn more? Here are a couple options that will help you.