October 17, 2018. You’ve likely heard this date by now: the day Canada legalizes the widespread sale and recreational use of cannabis. This move will stand as one of the the most significant shifts in national drug policy ever recorded in Canada’s legislature, as the second country to do so and the largest so far officially.
Under certain circumstances, the terms and conditions of cannabis legalization will change depending on which province you live in – though federally imposed, the Canadian federal government leaves it up to the province to decide on stances of possession, growing, and other factors surrounding cannabis consumption and cultivation.
Overall, what does this mean for the Canadian consumer? Below is an overview priming you on where cannabis can be bought, what falls under the legal guidelines, how much you can carry or grow within your home, and where Canada falls on the spectrum of regulation in comparison to the rest of the world.
First, the facts: under the Cannabis Act, Canadians are allowed about a 30-gram maximum people can buy at once or possess in public. That’s just over an ounce, which is the possession limit in all but one of the U.S. states with legal pot.
However, there’s no limit on how much Canadians can possess in their homes. If you want to grow some, you are allowed up to four plants up to a metre tall, but not everywhere.
This is where the rules start to get slippery: in provinces like Quebec and Manitoba, home-growing is outlawed outright, while others (like British Columbia, fabled for their sublime BC bud) stipulate that the plants must be grown in a secure location out of public view.
And as noted by The Guardian, remember not to move your plants while they bloom! Appearing in a public space with a blooming cannabis plant can net you a fine up to $5,000, or five years behind bars.
You can’t buy cannabis if you’re under 18 (though you may have to be 19 in most provinces) in compliance with the legal drinking age. Federal taxes will total $1 per gram of sale or 10 percent, whichever is more. The feds will absorb one-quarter of these and return the remainder to the provinces, which can add their own markups. On top of that, consumers will pay local sales taxes.
In an article published by The Associated Press, they note that the key difference dividing the Canadian and American models is government involvement. The main federal effort in the U.S. is to enforce drug laws that still treat marijuana as a controlled substance, whereas in Canada, the federal government only regulates producers. The provinces are tasked with overseeing distribution. Some will buy wholesale marijuana and deliver it to retailers or, through the federal postal service, to online customers.
All of these rules and systems in Canada apply only (for now) to fresh and dried cannabis, and weaker kinds of cannabis: oil tinctures, capsules, and seeds. But this does not acknowledge concentrates, extracts or edibles – the government plans to address these other types sometime in the next year. But legal acceptance and market integration of these more niche subsets (like shatter, a hard glass-like resin of highly concentrated cannabis oil extract) remains to be seen, despite big businesses being readily prepared to sell all kinds of these products.
Another open question is how Canada will address those criminalized with cannabis-related charges before legalization – Trudeau has acknowledged the highly racialized nature of this issue, as a disproportionate number of people facing these troubles are indigenous or ethnic minorities. Some have declared general amnesty as a solution, while other rights groups have suggested implementing a preferential licensing system to help those harmed by prohibition to transition into legal work.
And while the government has acknowledged pardoning minor possession offences, they appear to have little interest in doing the same for those charged with trafficking.
So, with that all being established, where you can you buy it on launch day? We’ve outlined the plans for each province below.
Zero. Yes, that’s right, nada. According to The Globe & Mail, the government won’t have a framework ready until April, and Ontario’s cities – which are holding municipal elections on Oct. 22 – get a one-time window to decide if they want pot stores locally. On Oct. 17, Ontarians can buy online through the government retailer, but not in brick-and-mortar shops. And under the leadership of Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservatives, the government option outlined by Wynne’s governance has been declined to focus on the development of private outlets instead.
Zero. Rolling out an online service which will go active on legalization day.
Integration into liquor stores, located in Yellowknife, Hay River, Inuvik, Fort Smith, Norman Wells and Fort Simpson.
One location, a large central warehouse just outside of Whitehorse.
NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR
Leading the way with the most stores in a province with 24 stores.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Three of four stores open on October 17.
12 shops will be open on October 17. Liquor store integration.
Three in Montréal, two in Québec City, and one in Levis, Trois-Rivières, Drummondville, Rimouski Mirabel, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, ans Mascouche. Three of the locations—in Montreal, Joliette and Brossard—will open later in the month. But speculative, as new elections might have the right-wing populist party elected look not too kindly towards weed.
Opening of 20 stores on legalization day.
At least 4 physical brick-and-mortar stores.
Projected at 21 stores, but for now, 4. Located in Yorkton, the RM of Edenwold, Battleford, and North Battleford.
17 stores total: six stores in Edmonton, three in Medicine Hat, two in Calgary, two in Fort Saskatchewan, and one in Stony Plain, Devon, Spruce Grove, and St. Albert.
A single store, located in Kamloops.
 Take note: A “public space” includes inside your vehicle.