October 15, 2018 5:00 am
Updated: October 17, 2018 10:42 am

Cannabis IQ: Across the country, here’s what to expect on legalization day

A marijuana flag flaps in the wind above the crowd at the annual 4/20 cannabis culture celebration at Sunset Beach in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday April 20, 2016.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
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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.

As you would expect in a vast, complicated country, no two provinces are legalizing marijuana in exactly the same way (although P.E.I and New Brunswick come close). Here’s how it’s going to work where you live.

Click on a province for details: 

WATCH: How to buy weed in Canada once its legalized

Due to the timing of B.C.’s election, the province was late to publish its plan. The province will have the smallest network of retail stores other than Ontario, co-existing with a network of grey-market dispensaries which won’t be easily dislodged.

British Columbia

  • Minimum age: 19
  • Where to buy in-person: On October 17, at one legal store, in Kamloops. B.C. has taken a far more tolerant attitude to grey-market dispensaries than other provinces, so there are, of course, other options. B.C. will eventually have a mix of public- and private-sector retail stores.
  • Where to buy online: bccannabisstores.com
  • Can you consume in public? Yes, subject to existing smoking restrictions and local bylaws
  • What about growing your own? Up to four plants per household, but they can’t be visible to the public
  • To find out more: Go here

The Prairie provinces took broadly similar approaches to legalization, relying almost entirely on the private sector. The exception is Alberta, where online sales will be run by government.

Alberta

  • Minimum age: 18
  • Where to buy in-person: Private-sector retail stores
  • Where to buy online: Government-run albertacannabis.org
  • Can you consume in public? Yes, subject to existing smoking restrictions and local bylaws.
  • What about growing your own? Up to four plants per household.
  • To find out more: Go here

WATCH: Cannabis use, consumption banned by major Alberta rental company Boardwalk

Saskatchewan

  • Minimum age: 19
  • Where to buy in-person: Private-sector retail stores
  • Where to buy online: Licensed cannabis retailers in Saskatchewan will be allowed to sell online.
  • Can you consume in public? No
  • What about growing your own? Up to four plants per household. Renters may face some restrictions.
  • To find out more: Go here

WATCH: Province unveils four companies approved to sell pot in Manitoba

Manitoba

  • Minimum age: 19 (This is a bit tricky: Manitoba’s minimum age to buy alcohol is 18. Manitoba will be the only province to have different ages for cannabis and alcohol.)
  • Where to buy in-person: Private-sector retail stores
  • Where to buy online: Licensed cannabis retailers in Manitoba will be allowed to sell online.
  • Can you consume in public? No
  • What about growing your own? No. The prohibition comes with a $2,542 fine. Manitoba wasn’t as openly confrontational as Quebec was with Ottawa about its home grow ban (see below) but it’s not messing around.
  • To find out more: Go here

WATCH: Marijuana proximity: The farther away from Ontario schools, the less space for stores

Ontario started out with a plan for a public-sector cannabis retail system, much like the LCBO, the province’s alcohol monopoly. An election gave Ontario a new government, and after a very long pause, a new plan emerged: private-sector retail and public-sector online sales. The change happened at an awkward time — Ontario Cannabis Store officials spent time waiting for a new plan, when they could have been preparing furiously for Oct. 17. Now Ontario seems to be the worst-prepared province for legalization, with in-person retail not expected until April 2019.

Ontario

  • Minimum age: 19
  • Where to buy in-person: Nowhere at all (legally). Ontario’s retail network won’t open until April 2019.
  • Where to buy online: Government-run ocs.ca
  • Can you consume in public? Ontario’s original plan called for a ban on public consumption; recent amendments from the new PC government would allow marijuana smoking anywhere smoking in general is allowed, However, Ontario premier Doug Ford seemed surprised to be told at a press conference that this meant that people would be allowed to smoke marijuana openly in parks, which he called “unacceptable,” so the final law may not be quite so free and easy.
  • What about growing your own? Up to four plants per household
  • To find out more: Go here

Quebec will start with a very small network of government-run retail stores. Government-run online sales will have to take up the slack, much as in Ontario.

Quebec

  • Minimum age: 18 (though the new government has said it wants to raise that to 21)
  • Where to buy in-person: The Société québécoise du cannabis has announced 14 store locations, and says it expects to open about 20 by Oct. 17. (The province’s population is 8.2 million, so it might take some time for a retail network to become usable.)
  • Where to buy online: sqdc.ca
  • Can you consume in public? Yes, subject to existing smoking restrictions and local bylaws.
  • What about growing your own? No. (Ottawa and Quebec have locked horns over this issue, and it is likely to end up in court.)
  • To find out more: Go here

WATCH: New Brunswick municipalities grapple with marijuana legalization after provincial election

The Atlantic provinces seem the best-prepared for legalization — they want to develop cannabis as an economic sector, and badly need the tax money. New Brunswick was completely prepared for legalization on July 1 (remember when we were expecting that?). The province lost $3 million in foregone tax revenue when it was delayed to Oct. 17.

New Brunswick

  • Minimum age: 19
  • Where to buy in-person: 20 government-run stores
  • Where to buy online: Government-run cannabis-nb.com
  • Can you consume in public? No
  • What about growing your own? Yes, but only in a locked space if indoors, or in a fenced area if outdoors.
  • To find out more: Go here

Prince Edward Island

  • Minimum age: 19
  • Where to buy in person: Three government-run stores.
  • Where to buy online: Government-run peicannabiscorp.com
  • Can you consume in public? No
  • What about growing your own? Up to four plants per household. In rental units, landlords must consent; plants must be inaccessible to under-19s.
  • To find out more: Go here

WATCH: NSLC unveils concept of ‘bright, open’ cannabis outlets

Nova Scotia

  • Minimum age: 19
  • Where to buy in-person: 12 government-run stores. Unlike other provinces, Nova Scotia will sell cannabis mostly in existing liquor stores.
  • Where to buy online: Government-run myNSLC.com/cannabis
  • Can you consume in public? Yes, subject to existing smoking restrictions and local bylaws.
  • What about growing your own? Up to four plants per household.
  • To find out more: Go here

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Minimum age: 19
  • Where to buy in person: Newfoundland will have 23 private-sector cannabis stores, and Labrador will have one (Tobin’s Convenience, in Labrador City.)
  • Where to buy online: Government-run shopcannabisnl.com
  • Can you consume in public? No
  • What about growing your own? Up to four plants per household.
  • To find out more: Go here

Yukon

  • Minimum age: 19
  • Where to buy in-person: One government-run store in Whitehorse; Yukon plans to also allow private retail in the future.
  • Where to buy online: Government-run CannabisYukonStore.ca
  • Can you consume in public? No
  • What about growing your own?  Up to four plants per household.
  • To find out more: Go here

Northwest Territories

  • Minimum age: 19
  • Where to buy in-person: Territorial liquor stores
  • Where to buy online: ntlcc.ca
  • Can you consume in public? Within limits. Territorial law allows consumption on private property where smoking tobacco is allowed, on trails or roadways when not operating a motor vehicle, and parks when not in use for a public event. It’s banned in public areas frequented by children.
  • What about growing your own?  Up to four plants per household.
  • To find out more: Go here

Nunavut

  • Minimum age: 19
  • Where to buy in-person: Nunavut won’t have a cannabis retail store to start.
  • Where to buy online: Nunavut residents will be able to order directly from tweed.com
  • Can you consume in public?  Yes, subject to existing smoking restrictions and local bylaws.
  • What about growing your own?  Up to four plants per household. Nunavut considered but rejected a home grow ban.
  • What else should I know? The new, official Inuktitut word for cannabis is surrarnaqtuq, but not everybody accepts it. (There are several other Inuktitut words for cannabis already in use, which you can read about here.)
  • To find out more: Nunavut doesn’t have a dedicated cannabis site, but you can read the territory’s law here.

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