As cannabis is legalized across the country on Oct. 17, Global News is answering key questions on what it means for you: What will the roll out look like in each province? What’s the impact on the economy? On your health?
To keep up to date on the legal, social and health implications of legalization, sign-up for our weekly newsletter, Cannabis IQ.
It’s been a long, complex journey for governments, businesses and average Canadians, but the wait is finally over and, as of today, legal marijuana is available across the nation.
While pot will no longer fall under the same category as illicit drugs like heroin or cocaine, it’s important to note that this isn’t a free-for-all. You won’t be permitted to grow unlimited amounts in your house, for example, or use it if you’re under the legal age limit set by each province/territory.
Buying it from a black-market dealer is still illegal, as is driving while under the influence.
As Canadians light their celebratory joints, here’s everything you need to know about legalized pot, drawn from over two years of in-depth reporting by Global News.
The experience of buying pot is different depending on where you live, so it’s important to know what will constitute a legal point of sale in your jurisdiction.
Across each province and territory, you’ll be able to buy weed through private storefronts, provincially-operated entities, or a mix of both (more details below).
Eight provinces and all the territories have set their minimum age to purchase at 19. Alberta and Quebec are the exceptions, where the minimum age is 18 (though Quebec’s new government wants to raise that to 21).
The cannabis products available in stores will likely include dried, fresh, oil, seeds and plants in most regions. If you live in a remote or more rural community, legal online sales of these products are probably going to be your best bet.
It’s estimated that legal pot could sell for around $10 a gram, or a bit less, as the legal market works to compete with the black market.
WATCH: Stick with your dealer? Or buy pot legally? How legalization will affect the black market
Looking for pot brownies? Sorry, but edibles are not available yet, even though polling suggests they will be popular options among women, non-smokers and millennials. The federal government plans to develop regulations that would allow for the sale of edibles and concentrates in the next year or two. Consultations will be launched in late 2018 and 2019.
Consumers should also be aware that there are lingering questions about how your pot purchasing data will be stored and how it might be used to prevent you from entering the U.S.
Legal points of sale are going to differ across Canada. In Newfoundland and Labrador, for example, legislation will allow for sale in private stores, but the products will be licensed and regulated by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC).
In Ontario, people won’t be able to buy cannabis legally in-person until at least April 2019, when the provincial retail network is set to open. People will be able to buy online through a government-run site.
Alberta, in contrast, has been issuing licenses on a case-by-case basis to individual cannabis stores and dispensaries. Seventeen locations have been approved to open today, six of which are located in Edmonton, three of which are in Medicine Hat, and two of which are in Calgary.
In B.C., there is only one legal store open as of today in Kamloops. However, the government has received roughly 100 permits for private sales.
The best way to find out more about your jurisdiction’s approach is to head to the provincial or territorial government’s official website. Most provinces and territories have also said yes to online sales. But regardless of who’s selling you your pot, be prepared to encounter wait times.
POSSESSING, GROWING AND SHARING
Under the Cannabis Act, adults 18 years or older can possess up to 30 grams of legal dried cannabis or equivalent in non-dried form, and share up to 30 grams of legal pot with other adults.
In most provinces and territories, you’re allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants per residence for personal use from licensed seed or seedlings. An initial height restriction on the plants was eventually dropped from the law. If you do decide to grow, keep in mind that cannabis plants can be fussy, and there’s the potential for real estate headaches.
WATCH: How your pot is being produced ahead of legalization
But again, there’s a catch. Not everyone can grow their own weed. Quebec has banned home grows, which could lead to a court challenge. Residents are being advised to follow the provincial law for now.
The question of what constitutes impairment behind the wheel is one of the most contentious aspects of legal marijuana. It can be hard for a driver to determine if they are impaired by pot, and there’s no real consensus on how long you should wait after consuming pot before getting behind the wheel.
Police, meanwhile, will be using the standard roadside sobriety tests, followed by more tests administered by a drug recognition expert and potentially saliva and blood tests, if they suspect you of driving high.
Under the federal law, the legal limit for impairment will be over two nanograms of THC in the blood. However, a number of provinces are opting for variations on a zero-tolerance approach — Saskatchewan’s rules are particularly strict.
Again, it’s important to check the limits and penalties in each jurisdiction.