An Update on the Legality of Cannabis

02/28/2019
Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, is now law. The bill is a piece of government legislation that legalized access to recreational cannabis in Canada when it came into force on October 17, 2018.

Part of the purpose of this Act is to protect public health and public safety. In particular, it seeks to protect the health of young persons by restricting their access to cannabis. The act also endeavors to provide for the legal production of cannabis to reduce illegal activities in relation to cannabis, and provide access to a quality-controlled supply of cannabis.


As such, this article highlights some cannabis related offences that came out of the Cannabis Act.


Possession


According to the Cannabis Act, you can be found guilty of an offence if you:

  • Are 18 years of age or older, and you possess, in a public place, cannabis of one or more classes of cannabis the total amount of which, as determined in accordance with Schedule 3, is equivalent to more than 30 g of dried cannabis
  • Are 18 years of age or older, and you possess any cannabis that you know is illicit cannabis
  • Are a young person, and you possess cannabis of one or more classes of cannabis the total amount of which, as determined in accordance with Schedule 3, is equivalent to more than 5 g of dried cannabis
  • Possess, in a public place, one or more cannabis plants that are budding or flowering
  • Possess more than four cannabis plants that are not budding or flowering
  • Are an organization in possession of cannabis

On indictment, an individual over 18 charged with possession related offences, pursuant to s. 8 of the Cannabis Act, can be liable to 5 years, less a day imprisonment. Young persons will be sentenced under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and courts have discretion to fine organizations as they see fit.


On summary conviction, an individual over 18 charged with possession related offences, pursuant to s. 8 of the Cannabis Act can be liable to a fine of not more than $5,000 and/or imprisonment for a term of not more than six months. Young persons will be sentenced under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and courts can fine organizations up to $100,000.


As such, adults who are 18 years of age or older are legally able 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

The above is subject to provincial or territorial restrictions, and the possession limits in the Cannabis Act are based on dried cannabis.


Distribution


According to the Cannabis Act, you can be found guilty of an offence if you:



Possess for the purposes of trafficking

  • Are 18 years of age or older, and you:

              a. Distribute cannabis of one or more classes of cannabis the total amount of which is equivalent, as determined in accordance with Schedule 3, to more than 30 g of dried cannabis 

              b. Distribute cannabis to an individual, who is under 18 years of age
              c. Distribute cannabis to an organization
              d. Distribute cannabis that they know is illicit cannabis


  • Are a young person, and you:

              a. Distribute cannabis of one or more classes of cannabis the total amount of which is equivalent, as determined in accordance with Schedule 3, to more than 5 g of dried cannabis
              b. Distribute cannabis to an organization

  • If you: 
              a. Distribute one or more cannabis plants that are budding or flowering

              b. Distribute more than four cannabis plants that are not budding or flowering

  • If an organization to distributes cannabis

On indictment, an individual over 18 charged with distribution related offences, pursuant to s. 9 of the Cannabis Act, can be liable to 14 years imprisonment. Young persons will be sentenced under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and courts have discretion to fine organizations as they see fit.


On summary conviction, an individual over 18 charged with distribution related offences, pursuant to s. 9 of the Cannabis Act can be liable to a fine between $5,000-$15,000 and/or imprisonment for a term of 6-18 months, depending on the offence. Young persons will be sentenced under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and courts can fine organizations up to $100,000.


Selling

According to the Cannabis Act, you can be found guilty of an offence if you sell cannabis, or any substance represented or held out to be cannabis, to an individual who is 18 years of age or older; an individual who is under 18 years of age; or an organization. It is also an offence to possess cannabis for the purpose of selling it.


On indictment, an individual charged with selling related offences, pursuant to s. 10 of the Cannabis Act, can be liable to 14 years imprisonment. Young persons will be sentenced under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and courts have discretion to fine organizations as they see fit.


On summary conviction, an individual charged with selling related offences, pursuant to s. 10 of the Cannabis Act can be liable to a fine between $5,000-$15,000 and/or imprisonment for a term of 6-18 months, depending on the offence. Young persons will be sentenced under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, and courts can fine organizations up to $100,000.


Importing and Exporting

Unless authorized by the Cannabis Act, it is an offence to import or export cannabis. It is also an offence to possess cannabis for the purpose of importing or exporting it.


On indictment, an individual charged with importing or exporting related offences, pursuant to s. 11 of the Cannabis Act, can be liable to 14 years imprisonment.


On summary conviction, an individual charged with importing or exporting related offences, pursuant to s. 11 of the Cannabis Act can be liable to a fine of $5,000-$15,000 and/or imprisonment for a term of 6 months. Courts can fine organizations up to $300,000.


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