Canada, Cannabis, and Commerce: What You Should Know

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Knowing the do’s and dont’s regarding Canada’s new legislation on cannabis will save you hassle, whether between borders or in front of your computer.

Recreational use of cannabis is now legal in Canada. On October 17, 2018, the Cannabis Act went into effect–welcome news for many, which has even prompted concern over a ‘weed shortage’! The Act effectively created a legal framework for the possession, distribution, and production of cannabis. The new ruling, however, has created some confusion regarding purchase, cultivation, cost, as well as concern over potential border complications between the US and Canada.

There are some facts for the consumer to keep in mind regarding the purchase of cannabis. Restrictions depend on the province, but for the majority of territories, the age of purchase is 19 and the amount permissible in public is generally no more than 30 grams. Consumption is prohibited in all areas where tobacco use is also restricted, such as near schools and health institutions. Online sale of weed is allowed in all provinces and territories. Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify’s Vice President and General Manager Loren Padelford said, “We give people the platform to sell whatever they want, as long as that’s legal.”

For those more inclined to self-sufficiency, nearly all provinces and territories–except for Quebec and Manitoba–allow for the possession of four marijuana plants per household. This could also be convenient for those who wish to circumvent the cost, ranging from $8-16 per gram in places like New Brunswick.

As for Canada’s southern neighbour, US federal law still prohibits the possession of pot, although some state changes have legalised its use, such as the California marijuana law. Possession or use will still put the Canadian traveller at risk of being inadmissible to the US. Those arriving by plane could expect to see questions regarding cannabis use on declaration forms and travellers flying internationally will be prohibited from bringing the substance on board. Also, workers in the cannabis industry may be inadmissible to the United States, even though their occupation is perfectly legal in Canada.

Like all mind-altering substances, cannabis use will still be prohibited for those employed in high risk occupations, such as pilots. As is the case with alcohol consumption, whether a driver will be arrested for cannabis use depends on the how much of its primary psychoactive substance, THC, is found in their blood. Drivers who consume beyond the limit–between two and five nanograms–face the risk of being fined $1,000. Those in more serious violation of the law could face prison time.

What is certain is that more debates are yet to come. Differences between the territories’ and provinces’ regulation could result in constitutional reform. Research regarding the health effects of cannabis is still on going. It will be interesting to note the extent to which ‘marijuana tourism’ will affect Canada. Also curious to note is how domestic law might still apply even to those who are thinking of travelling to Canada to engage in recreational cannabis use. South Korea has prohibited its citizens from doing just that, stating that domestic law will be in effect even for vacationers to Canada.

Whatever your circumstances are, it is useful to conduct appropriate research on the use of cannabis before travelling or engaging in its purchase or consumption. This is sure to save you undue hassle, whether between borders or in front of your computer.

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