While cannabis will soon be legalized in Canada, it does not mean that it will be entirely decriminalized.
This is much like alcohol, which is a substance that is taxed and regulated, yet has legal consequences and ramifications when it is consumed in excessive amounts or in risky situations (like behind the wheel of a vehicle).
And yes, while the Cannabis Act will be allowing for personal grows and retail distribution, there are strict regulations about cannabis that makes some of its possession and sale still a criminal offense. Let’s touch on some of the ways that cannabis can still lead to prison time, even after July 1.
Cannabis in Public vs. Private
The big stipulation in the heart of the Cannabis Act is the different limits between possessing cannabis in public vs. possessing it inside a private dwelling (home, apartment, townhouse, etc.).
When in public, adults in Canada will be allowed to be in possession of about 30 grams of cannabis (about 1 ounce) – or an equivalent amount of cannabis-based products (food, concentrates, cannabis oil). The rule applies to adults over the age of 18; minors are still prohibited from possessing cannabis in any amount or form.
In the confines of private property, adults can possess an unlimited amount of processed cannabis, though private grows are limited to just four plants per household. Adults who are going from one private dwelling to another can only transfer 30 grams at a time in public. An adult can have four plants in both dwellings as part of a personal stash, and both dwellings can have unlimited amounts of cannabis products in the homes – unless, of course, provinces or territories pass their own rules and regulations about personal possession.
Civil vs. Criminal Penalties
With the going into force of the Cannabis Act, there will be some different charges based on the “severity” of a public cannabis possession violation.Those adults who are caught in public in possession of an amount greater than 30 grams but less than 50 grams would be treated similar to a traffic ticket – in other words, it’s a civil offense that may result in a small fine or a couple hundred dollars.
Anything over 50 grams of possession, or any cannabis i the possession of a child can result in what are called “severe” criminal penalties. Those penalties will be ultimately decided by provinces and territories, with general guidance from federal legislation. These penalties will include jail time and heavy fines.
Next week, we’ll close this series by discussing what are called international obligations, and ramifications of cannabis in workplaces and in the production of industrial hemp.