What the law says about cannabis possession and cultivation
On October 17, 2018, Canada legalized the consumption of cannabis. The objectives? As formulated by the government at that time, cannabis legislation and regulations aimed to do the following:
- Keep it out of the reach of children
- Prevent the profits from enriching criminals
- Prioritize public health and safety by enabling adults to have access to legal cannabis
Since then, the Canadian government has made numerous adjustments to the regulations governing legalization, always with the goal of establishing clear rules and standards and improving control of cannabis production, distribution, sales, import and export. While the federal guidelines impose general conditions, each province and territory is responsible for establishing its own rules regarding sales and distribution under its jurisdiction and for instituting supplemental restrictions when necessary.
In other words, it’s best to know the latest changes regarding the possession and cultivation of cannabis in order to ensure legal consumption.
The rules governing cannabis possession and consumption
1. Who can purchase cannabis?
Anyone can purchase cannabis, as long as they meet the minimum age requirements, which vary depending on the province and territory. While the legal age is 18 or 19 in most parts of the country, it’s 21 in Quebec.
2. Who can consume cannabis?
The legal age for consumption is the same as the legal age for purchase. Therefore, in Quebec, individuals under the age of 21 are not authorized to consume it. By extension, it’s illegal to share cannabis with anyone under the age of 21 or to purchase it on their behalf.
3. Where can one purchase cannabis?
In general, only retailers authorized by Health Canada are allowed to sell cannabis. However, in Quebec, only the Quebec Cannabis Society (SQDC) has the right to sell cannabis. Therefore, in this province, it’s a crime to purchase it from anyone else than SQDC and retailers authorized by Health Canada.
4. How much of each type of cannabis can one purchase?
Cannabis comes in various forms: dried, fresh, oil, resin, edibles and extracts. However, it is illegal to sell it in the form of candy, confections or any other format that could be appealing to individuals under the age of 21.
In accordance with current purchasing regulations, you may not purchase more than 30 g of cannabis per visit and you may not have more than 30 g in your possession when you are in a public place. The quantity for each type of cannabis is expressed in terms of its dried cannabis equivalent. For reference, one gram of dried cannabis is equivalent to the following:
- 5 grams of fresh cannabis
- 15 g of edibles
- 70 g of liquid product
- 0.25 g of concentrate (solid or liquid)
- 1 cannabis seed
5. Where can one consume cannabis?
In Quebec, just like smoking and vaping, consuming cannabis is prohibited in public places, such as the following:
- Public roads and pathways (sidewalks, alleys, streets, highways, pedestrian lanes, etc.)
- Bus shelters
- Terraces and other outdoor commercial spaces
- Parks, playgrounds, sports fields, day camps and vacation campgrounds
It’s also illegal to consume it in any place that grants access to individuals under the age of 21:
- Nurseries and childcare centers
- Any other facility, location, building or grounds used for preschool, primary or secondary education, professional training services, adult education services for general training, etc.
Finally, it’s forbidden to consume cannabis on any grounds, locations or buildings used for detention.
6. What about personal consumption?
In your home, you are allowed to possess a maximum of 150 g of dried cannabis or its equivalent. This maximum quantity is per address, not per person. However, the rules vary depending on whether you’re a tenant, homeowner or condominium dweller:
- If you’re a tenant, your landlord has the right to prohibit you from consuming cannabis in your apartment
- If you’re a homeowner, you may consume cannabis inside your home or on your property
- If you live in a condominium, the syndicate of co-ownership can prohibit you from consuming cannabis in the common areas or in your apartment if it disturbs other owners
Other rules regarding consumption
You may not drive after having consumed cannabis, regardless of the quantity. If you do, you could face a fine, demerit points on your driving record and the immediate suspension of your driver’s license for 90 days. In the workplace, the decision is up to the employer, who can regulate the use of cannabis or prohibit it completely, in accordance with the Cannabis Regulation Act.
What you need to know about the cultivation of cannabis for personal use
The grey areas regarding the cultivation and production of cannabis for personal use are, without a doubt, at the root of many violations. Let’s take a moment here to clarify what’s permitted and what isn’t.
Over the past four years, home cultivation of cannabis has gone from being illegal to legal and back again, as the Quebec appellate court recently ruled that the Government of Quebec can prohibit residents of the province from possessing and growing cannabis plants for their own personal use.
However, the Supreme Court could take up the matter in the near future and issue a different ruling.
At present, it’s impossible not to mention the consumption of cannabis for medical purposes. The corresponding regulations are undoubtedly subject to a lack of understanding; therefore, it’s worth summarizing the general guidelines.
Most importantly, if you’re thinking about consuming cannabis for medical purposes, you must first talk it over with your doctor. There are risks. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean that it’s suitable for treating your particular pathology. Furthermore, it certainly isn’t the SQDC’s job to advise you from a medical point of view, much less to prescribe a treatment. Only a physician can inform you adequately regarding all of the issues related to the use of cannabis. If your state of health justifies it, your physician will give you a prescription, which you will then be able to present to an authorized grower. You can also register with Health Canada in order to grow your own cannabis. However, the seeds must come from an authorized grower.
Would you like to learn more about this topic? Don’t hesitate to consult the guidelines issued by Health Canada for accessing cannabis legally and securely for medical purposes.
Do you have any legal questions regarding the consumption or possession of cannabis?
Although the information presented here may help clarify the rules governing cannabis consumption, please be aware that it is no substitute for legal advice. For all of the details so you can better understand the risks in general or in your particular situation, feel free to contact the offices of criminal lawyer Martine Thibodeau. Rigorous and attentive, she’s available to give you the straight facts regarding this matter and any other legal services that may be of use to you.
Government of Quebec. The legislation on cannabis in brief. 2020.
Éducaloi. 7 choses à savoir sur la consommation de cannabis au Québec [7 things to know about the consumption of cannabis in Quebec]. 2022.
Cannabis à des fins médicales : la SQDC n’est pas une option ! [Cannabis for medical purposes: the SQDC is not an option!]. 2019.