On October 17, 2018, new regulations under the Cannabis Act went into effect, permitting the sale of marijuana for personal use. Like hashish, marijuana is a product of the cannabis plant, but is the leafier part of the plant.
It is now legal in Canada to:
- possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis, dried or equivalent in non-dried form in public
- share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults
- buy dried or fresh cannabis and cannabis oil from a provincially-licensed retailer
- in provinces and territories without a regulated retail framework, individuals are able to purchase cannabis online from federally-licensed producers
- grow, from licensed seed or seedlings, up to 4 cannabis plants per residence for personal use
- make cannabis products, such as food and drinks, at home as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products
As of October 17, 2019, cannabis edible products and concentrates are legal for sale.
While the personal use of marijuana is now legal, there are still many aspects which remain illegal and can potentially lead to a criminal record. In Ontario, there is zero tolerance for cannabis use (including marijuana) by young or novice drivers, as well as by commercial drivers. Any use could result in licence suspensions and potential financial penalties. As with alcohol, there are prohibited amounts of THC (the active component of marijuana and marijuana) for drivers. It is a summary offence to have 2-5 nanograms (ng) of THC per mL of blood. It is a hybrid offence to have over 5ng of THC per mL of blood. When combined with alcohol, the legal limit is 2.5ng of THC and 50mg alcohol combined.
The penalty for driving under the influence of marijuana can vary. A blood THC level of 2-5 nanograms may result in a maximum $1000.00 fine. Any blood THC level over 5ng carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment. However, there are also minimum sentences which depend on the number of convictions a person has for drug driving. A first offence has a minimum $1000.00 fine. A second offence has a minimum 30 days imprisonment. A third offence carries a minimum 120 days imprisonment. The roadside licence suspensions and vehicle impounding that are associated with drunk driving also apply where drugs are involved.
In the case of impaired driving causing bodily harm carries a maximum sentence of 2 years less a day by summary conviction, or a maximum of 14 years by indictment. Impaired driving causing death is an indictable offence that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Similar to alcohol, it is a criminal offence to refuse a standard field sobriety test administered by police. In order to demand an oral fluid sample, police must reasonably suspect a person has drugs in their system. Blood samples are required to prove blood concentration levels.
The Cannabis Act establishes that provinces are responsible for establishing rules on the distribution and sale of cannabis products. In Ontario, any purchase outside of legally licenced stores or the government’s online store can result in a fine of up to $100,000.00 and one year in prison. Selling to a minor, or using a youth to commit a cannabis-related offence, can both result in a maximum 14 year prison sentence.
The possession of marijuana above permitted amounts is a hybrid offence. On summary conviction, an individual could be subject to 6 months imprisonment and/or a $5000.00 fine; an organization could be subject to a $100,000.00 fine. On indictment, the sentence can be up to 5 years imprisonment for individuals, or a fine in an amount that is at the court’s discretion for an organization.
For distribution and possession for the purpose of distribution, a summary offence could have different sentences. Depending on the exact charges, the sentence could either be: a) 6 months imprisonment and/or $5000.00 fine; or b) 18 months imprisonment and/or $15,000.00 fine for individuals, or a fine up to $100,000.00 for organizations. (It is best to speak with a lawyer to determine which applies in your specific situation.) On indictment, an individual could receive up to 14 years imprisonment, or in the case of an organization a fine in an amount that is at the court’s discretion.