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Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail

Recreational cannabis will be legal in Canada on Oct. 17. Will you be ready?

Since the Trudeau government made legalization a reality this summer, provinces and territories have chosen very different paths for ending the century-old prohibition of the drug. Some, like Manitoba, are leaving sales exclusively to the private sector. Others, like New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, are handling the pot business through their provincial liquor commissions. And then there’s Ontario, which changed course from public to private retail and won’t have bricks-and-mortar stores until some time next year.

This guide will detail how cannabis legalization will play out where you live. We’ll continue to update it as more jurisdictions release details on how they plan on regulating recreational marijuana.

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Part of cannabis laws and regulations

What the federal government is doing

Ottawa’s framework for legalization is laid out in the Cannabis Act, which passed overwhelmingly in the House of Commons last November and, with some revisions, cleared the Senate on June 19. This is what the federal government has allowed:

  • When legalization can begin: Oct. 17
  • Age minimum: 18
  • Possession: Adults will be allowed to carry up to 30 grams and share up to 30 grams with other adults
  • Cultivation: Adults will be allowed to grow a maximum of four plants per dwelling
  • Taxes: The excise tax will be $1 a gram or 10 per cent, whichever is higher

Most provinces set higher minimum ages; only Quebec and Alberta are allowing 18-year-olds to buy pot, while everywhere else chose 19 as the limit. Some provinces set lower personal possession limits, or limited the amount of plants grown inside the home and the places where adults can smoke cannabis.

For now, cannabis consumers will be able to get dried or fresh cannabis or oil, but the status of edibles hasn’t been settled yet. Ottawa has given itself up to a year to work out rules for the sale of edible products.

Alberta

Alberta is turning to the private sector to sell recreational cannabis, though the province will maintain control over online sales through Alberta Cannabis. The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission will oversee distribution and enforcement while owner-operators will set their own prices and won’t be able to sell items other than cannabis and cannabis accessories.

Age limit: 18

Other details

  • Retailers will not be able to sell marijuana alongside alcohol, pharmaceuticals or tobacco
  • Marijuana use through smoking or vaping will be disallowed in spaces that often have children present, such as playgrounds. Municipalities will be able to set additional limits on where cannabis can be consumed
  • Drug-impaired driving will not be allowed and will be penalized similarly to how driving under the influence of alcohol is currently enforced

British Columbia

Canada’s westernmost province will have a mix of provincially run and licensed private stores. The government will be the only wholesaler, through its liquor distribution corporation and its Shopify-run online retailer, the B.C. Cannabis Stores.

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Age limit: 19

Other details

  • Marijuana and alcohol cannot be sold in the same store
  • Municipalities will be able to determine if cannabis is sold within their jurisdiction
  • Smoking cannabis in public places is primarily limited to where smoking cigarettes and vaping is legal, but consumption will be prohibited on school grounds and other areas frequented by children
  • Adults can grow up to four plants per dwelling but landlords can disallow cultivation and use by tenants. Plants cannot be visible to the public and they will not be allowed in daycares or assisted living homes

Manitoba

Cannabis sales will be exclusively private in the province, both in brick-and-mortar locations and via the internet. The provincial government will be the sole wholesaler and will be responsible for overseeing distribution. Retailers will determine sale price themselves.

Age limit: 19

Other details

  • Marijuana and alcohol will not be allowed to be sold in the same store
  • Municipalities can choose to ban the sale of marijuana within their jurisdiction after holding a plebiscite
  • Manitobans will not be allowed to grow plants in their homes
  • Cannabis can only be transported in the trunk of a vehicle or behind the last seat of vehicles that do not have separate trunks

New Brunswick

New Brunswick will sell to residents online and through a subsidiary of NB Liquor, the provincial liquor commission. The province’s 20 Cannabis NB stores will be managed by a Crown corporation. Staff will be trained similar to how sommeliers are and a home-delivery service will be established.

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Age limit: 19

Other details

  • If you store cannabis inside your home, you will need to maintain it in a locked container or room. Residents who grow outside will need to do so in locked enclosures at least 1.52 metres high
  • Consumption is not allowed in vehicles
  • Use of cannabis products is primarily limited to private dwellings 

Newfoundland and Labrador

Legal recreational cannabis will be sold through private retailers, but the provincial liquor corporation will be responsible for distribution. Online sales will be handled exclusively by a provincial store, though the province hasn’t ruled out eventually allowing some private retailers to sell online. The provincial store is also in charge of setting prices for retailers.

Age limit: 19

Other details

  • Consumption will be prohibited outside of private residences
  • Co-location will be prohibited where there is access to a pharmacy

Northwest Territories

Legal recreational cannabis in the Northwest Territories will be administered by the territory’s Liquor Commission, with the organization taking control of imports and sales. Residents can buy products through liquor stores or via a mail-order service that will be established by the Liquor Commission.

Age limit: 19

Other details

  • Smoking in public places will be prohibited wherever tobacco smoking is prohibited, as well as in crowded places and parks regularly used by children
  • Communities can choose to ban the sale of marijuana within their jurisdiction after holding a plebiscite
  • Initially, only fresh or dried cannabis will be sold; edibles won’t be available until there are federal laws about how to sell and use them

Nova Scotia

Alcohol and legal recreational marijuana will be sold alongside each other in provincial liquor stores in Nova Scotia once the latter is legalized in 2018. Online sales will also be controlled by the government’s liquor corporation.

Age limit: 19

Other details

  • For those under the legal age, five grams is the maximum amount of possession before penalties will be enforced
  • Cannabis use is not allowed in vehicles
  • Public use will be limited and restricted as per Nova Scotia’s Smoke-free Places Act

Nunavut

Residents of Nunavut will be able to purchase cannabis online, but no brick-and-mortar retailers will be established in 2018. The territorial liquor commission will be the distributor and a mix of private and public retail options will exist eventually.

Age limit: 19

Other details

  • Adults can grow up to four plants per dwelling but landlords can disallow cultivation and use by tenants
  • Smoking cannabis in public places is prohibited where smoking tobacco is prohibited and consumption will be disallowed on school grounds and other areas frequented by children
  • Regulation of edibles and other cannabis products will be determined later

Ontario

Under premier Kathleen Wynne, Canada’s largest province was the first to introduce details on how it would sell cannabis – but the plan changed dramatically under her successor, Doug Ford, and now Ontarians may be the last in Canada to smoke up from store-bought weed. Originally, Ms. Wynne wanted sales to be handled through the LCBO, the provincially run liquor authority. But Mr. Ford instead decided to use private retailers, a decision announced less than three months before national legalization day. Starting Oct. 17, Ontarians will be able to buy online through the Ontario Cannabis Store, but bricks-and-mortar private stores won’t be opening until after a retail framework is set up by April 1, the province says.

Age limit: 19

Other details

  • Municipal governments have a one-time window to opt out of allowing cannabis stores, though they likely won’t know how long that window is until after October’s municipal elections
  • Drug-impaired driving will see stiffer penalties than currently exist, and there will be a zero-tolerance policy for young, novice or commercial drivers
  • Consumption will be prohibited in public, at workplaces and inside vehicles, and those who do can face fines of $1,000 on a first offence and $5,000 on subsequent offences

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island will be selling legal recreational marijuana through stores operated by its liquor commission, though alcohol will not be sold there. The stores are in Charlottetown, Summerside, Montague and the West Prince region. Residents will be able to order by mail through a government-operated online retailer.

Age limit: 19

Other details

  • Consumption is limited to private dwellings, though the government says it may eventually choose other designated locations for cannabis use
  • Edibles won’t be sold until the federal government sets out guidelines for them

Quebec

Legal recreational marijuana will be sold in Quebec through a new government agency, the Société québécoise du cannabis, while the distributor will be the province’s liquor agency. Twenty stores will be ready provincewide by legalization day.

Age limit: 18

Other details

  • There will be a zero-tolerance policy for drug-impaired drivers
  • Quebeckers will not be allowed to grow plants in their homes
  • Marijuana and alcohol will not be sold in the same store
  • Individuals can have a maximum of 30 grams on them at a time but will be allowed to hold 150 grams at their residence
  • Smoking and vaping marijuana in public places is primarily limited to where smoking cigarettes is legal but consumption will be prohibited on school and university campuses

Saskatchewan

Private retailers will be in charge of selling cannabis in Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority says it will issue 51 permits across the province.

Age limit: 19

Other details

  • Municipalities and First Nations can to opt out of having cannabis sold within their jurisdiction
  • Consumption in public places, including schools and daycares, is not allowed
  • Possession of any amount by a minor is disallowed

Yukon

The Yukon will have at least one government-owned-and-operated retail location and will establish an online sales option. The territory will also let licensed private businesses enter the marketplace and sell to residents.

Age limit: 19

Other details

  • Consumption will be prohibited outside of private residences and their adjoining properties
  • Any plants that are grown must not be accessible to minors

Big business

In 2017, Canadians spent an estimated $5.7-billion on cannabis, according to Statistics Canada. Around five million Canadians reportedly purchased medical and non-medical marijuana last year and the average user spent about $1,200 on cannabis products. Needless to say, legalized recreational cannabis is set to be big business.

This September, The Globe and Mail introduced Cannabis Professional, a premium business-to-business news service to help all players in the cannabis market – investors, retailers, producers and more – to stay on top of what’s happening. Globeandmail.com’s cannabis portal also has in-depth coverage of investing, retail and small business, laws and regulations and the consumer side of the pot market.

Analysis and commentary

Daniel Bear: Canada is lighting the way on cannabis regulation – so we need to get it right

Cannabis and the adolescent brain: What science knows, and doesn’t know

The problems – and opportunities – of the cannabis edibles market

Eight ways to prepare your organization for the legalization of marijuana

Globe investigations

Who’s getting rich off cannabis? Insider trading data reveal the big sellers

What’s in your weed? We tested dispensary marijuana to find out

How the Mob controls marijuana and why it is impossible to expel them

With reports from Globe staff and The Canadian Press

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