A pair of glasses sitting on top of legal papers

THE LAW

Even though both medical and recreational cannabis are now legal across Canada, there are limits to legalization you need to know. Below are some areas of the law that may be most relevant to youth.

What's Legal and What's Not?

Age to Possess 

The minimum age to possess and consume cannabis legally is 18 or 19 (depending upon your province). 

You may be asking “if weed can affect brain development until age 25, why is the legal age much lower than that?”

Provinces and territories matched their legal age for cannabis with their existing legal age for alcohol (18 or 19 years) because:

  • Many young people under age 25 consumed cannabis before it was legal and may continue to do so after legalization
  • Enabling access to cannabis through legal channels instead of the black market will promote safety and reduce health and legal risks (harm reduction)
  • Risks of harm to the developing brain seem to be greatest for youth under age 18

 

Crossing the Border

When leaving Canada:

  • You cannot possess cannabis upon entry to any other country, even it’s legal to possess it there. It’s illegal in most countries. 

When entering Canada:

  • If you have cannabis with you in any form (legal or otherwise), it is a punishable criminal offense, unless you have a permit or exemption issued by Health Canada. You must declare the legal cannabis you are carrying and present the permit to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Failure to do so is serious criminal offense. 

Driving High

There are strict penalties ranging from license suspension to jail time if criminally prosecuted and convicted of driving high. There are no known safe wait times to drive after getting high—it’s best to not drive and arrange alternate transportation. 

 

Drug Impaired Driving Penalties

As of July 1, 2018, young (16-21 years) and novice drivers (drivers of any age with G1, G2, M1, or M2 licenses) are prohibited from having any presence of cannabis in their system (zero tolerance) as well as other drugs that can be detected by an oral fluid screening device.

  • If police determine you are impaired by any substance including alcohol, cannabis,  illegal drugs, prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications, you will face severe consequences and potential criminal charges 
  • If you can demonstrate you have medical authorization for cannabis, the zero tolerance law will not apply, but if police believe your ability to drive is impaired, you will not be exempt from charges and penalties

 

Sharing with Underage Friends

Just as it is against the law to provide alcohol to a minor, it’s illegal for someone of legal age to sell, share, or give cannabis to people who are under the legal age. 

  • The penalty for giving cannabis to minors is a 14 year maximum prison penalty

Municipal Laws

Each municipality has its own by-laws around cannabis. They vary and may be more restrictive than provincial or federal cannabis laws. Know the rules where you are.

  • For example, where you can and cannot smoke or vape cannabis may differ from place to place. In some towns and cities it may not be permitted to smoke cannabis in public at all, whereas other places may restrict it only where smoking tobacco is prohibited.

Links to Provincial Cannabis Sites

In addition to the laws and restrictions mentioned above, there are many more to know.  Review what the laws are in your province and if you visit or move to another province, familiarize yourself with the laws there.