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A sales clerk finishes bagging a purchase at the SQDC cannabis store in Montreal on legalization day.

CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/Reuters

Part of cannabis laws and regulations

The latest

  • Supply shortages, market malaise and police crackdowns on illegal dispensaries have been harshing Canada’s post-legalization buzz in the days since consumers got their first access to the legal drug market.
  • For those ordering legal cannabis online, residents of four Canadian cities faced additional hurdles in getting their purchases delivered because of rotating strikes by Canada Post employees. The cities are Halifax and Edmonton, each of which had at least some cannabis stores open by Oct. 17, and Victoria and Windsor, Ont., which did not.
  • By Oct. 22, police in Toronto said they had shut down 11 unlicensed dispensaries, charging and releasing some 21 people during raids under new provincial cannabis laws. Mounties on Vancouver Island also raided two dispensaries on Thursday. 
  • The Trudeau government says it’s working toward legislation that will let people convicted of simple possession apply for pardons faster and at less cost, and hopes to have new laws ready by the end of the year. But the NDP and advocates for cannabis amnesty are pressing Ottawa to do more and proactively expunge criminal records of past cannabis crimes under prohibition.


Legalization basics

For more than 90 years, it was illegal to buy cannabis in Canada. After the 1990s, laws gradually loosened to allow medical use, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government was the first to make recreational cannabis legal again. After legislation passed this summer, the government set Oct. 17 as the date when consumers could start buying products from licensed, Health Canada-regulated producers. But Ottawa left it up to the provinces to decide how the drug would be sold and where it can be smoked. Here’s a full primer on the different provincial rules, with some highlights below on what the law allows nationwide:

  • Legal age: No province can sell drugs to residents under 18, but in most provinces, the legal age is 19. Generally, whatever your local legal drinking age is, that’s the minimum age for cannabis too.
  • How much you can have: You’ll be able to carry up to 30 grams outside your residence and share up to that amount with another adult. You can also grow up to four plants at home for your own use, except in Quebec and Manitoba, which don’t allow home growing.
  • What you can buy: Only dried and fresh cannabis and unconcentrated forms of cannabis oil are legal. Edibles, extracts and concentrates will still be illegal for another year or so, until Ottawa comes up with rules to regulate those products.
  • Where you can use it: Each province has its own rules for where residents can smoke. Generally they’re similar, if a little stricter, than their public-smoking laws. But in Nova Scotia you can only smoke in your residence or a handful of designated areas.
  • Who can sell it: Each province has chosen a different retail model, from the fully private (Manitoba) to the fully public (Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI) or some mix of both. Check the map below to see how your province’s rules work.

Brick and mortar (crown corp.)

Brick and mortar (private)

Online (crown corp.)

Online (private)

Grow your own

Sold through liquor stores

Yukon

NWT

Nunavut

Que.

PEI

Nfld.

Alta.

Sask.

Man.

Ont.*

N.B.

N.S.

B.C.

*THERE WON’T BE ANY BRICK AND MORTAR STORES IN ONTARIO UNTIL 2019.

MURAT YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Brick and mortar (crown corp.)

Online (crown corp.)

Brick and mortar (private)

Online (private)

Grow your own

Sold through liquor stores

Yukon

NWT

Nunavut

Que.

PEI

Nfld.

B.C.

Alta.

Sask.

Man.

Ont.*

N.B.

N.S.

*THERE WON’T BE ANY BRICK AND MORTAR STORES IN ONTARIO UNTIL 2019.

MURAT YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Online

Sold through liquor store

Crown corporation

Brick and mortar

Grow your own

Private sector

Yukon

NWT

Nunavut

Que.

PEI

Nfld.

B.C.

Alta.

Sask.

Man.

Ont.*

N.B.

N.S.

*THERE WON’T BE ANY BRICK AND MORTAR STORES IN ONTARIO UNTIL 2019.

MURAT YUKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Sales in stores

Legalization took hold across the country starting at midnight on Oct. 17, with thousands of people lining up to sample the newly legal products. In St. John’s, the first purchase, rung in five seconds after midnight, went to 24-year-old Nikki Rose, who bought three grams for herself and one gram for Ian Power, 46. The total cost: $49.98 after tax. Read about her and other Canadians who got their provinces' first grams in The Globe’s Day 1 dispatches from correspondents across the country.

As expected, demand greatly outmatched supply on Day 1, and many products sold out. Provinces didn’t manage to open many stores for the first day: B.C., for instance, had only one – and in Kamloops, not Vancouver, the biggest city. Provincial governments are pressing producers to speed up shipments to restock their stores.

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If you want to see where stores are available near you, check the interactive map below.

Where you can buy recreational marijuana in

Sales online

One by one, provincial retail websites began to go live after midnight on legalization day. Store websites powered by Shopify were seeing more than 100 orders a minute, the Ottawa-based tech company said Wednesday. Throughout legalization day, the Ontario Cannabis Store site also wasn’t registering on Google searches, which instead showed illegal private sites as the top results.

Here’s a list of the sites for provinces whose online sales are publicly run:

Saskatchewan and Manitoba have allowed private-sector online retail, so a variety of businesses will offer sales there. Nunavut is encouraging residents to buy through Tweed, a cannabis producer based in Smiths Falls, Ont.

Politics and pardons

When Parliament passed the Cannabis Act this summer, it didn’t include a plan to erase the criminal records of those convicted of cannabis offences under prohibition. But on Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced plans to let Canadians convicted of simple possession (under 30 grams of cannabis) more easily obtain pardons. The minister promised new legislation to come, hopefully by year’s end, that would waive fees and waiting periods for pardon applications, but there would be no blanket expungement of all simple-possession convictions, like Canada’s act pardoning men convicted for homosexuality-related convictions before 1969. The New Democrats want all simple-possession records to be expunged.

Watch: NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling for the deletion of criminal records for people convicted of simple cannabis possession. The Canadian Press


At the markets

Cannabis stocks had been gradually rising in the week leading up to legalization day, but a general market downturn has kept stocks depressed since Wednesday. Check the live chart below to see how stocks are performing for some of the major Canadian producers. If you’ve decided now is the time to get on board the pot bandwagon, you should read The Globe’s investor guide first.

What about the illegal industry?

A host of dispensaries in B.C. and Ontario are still operating outside the law, and while some were closed on legalization day, others remained open or left signs for clients offering alternatives to get illicit products. Police forces and provincial inspectors largely ignored dispensary businesses on Day 1, but the next day, two dispensaries on Vancouver Island were raided by the RCMP in the first apparent crackdown on illegal sales. Police in Toronto launched a series of raids resulting in 11 stores being shut down, and about 21 people arrested and released by Oct. 22.

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The black and grey market – which is still Canadians' only source of edibles and concentrates, which Ottawa won’t make legal for at least a year – could continue to exist for months after the end of prohibition, The Globe’s Mike Hager explains.

A sticker of a cannabis leaf is shown on the front door of Peace & Love, a Toronto dispensary that was closed on the first day cannabis became legal. Stores that opened were subject to hefty fines for the owner and landlord.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Required reading

Explainers

A consumer’s guide to cannabis basics

What is craft cannabis and how will it fit into the legal market?

An investor’s guide to cannabis

What Canada’s doctors are concerned about with marijuana legalization

Nine harm-reduction points to make with your teen about marijuana

In depth

Is there enough legal cannabis to meet demand? A visual guide

How we got here: Ian Brown on Canada’s long path to legalization

Can marijuana save this Ontario town?

Commentary and analysis

Editorial: With legal pot, Canada sets an example for other countries

André Picard: Boomers, remember the real – and perceived – harms of cannabis use

Gary Mason: No, we are not on the cusp of a drug-induced extinction

Ian Gold and Joel Gold: Cannabis use and psychosis: Young people need to know their risks

Compiled by Globe staff

With reports from Globe staff and The Canadian Press

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
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