Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Marijuana legalization: How it will work in your province or territory

EXPLAINER

Marijuana legalization: How Canada is planning on regulating recreational cannabis

Legal recreational marijuana is expected to become a reality in Canada in July of this year. Here's what your province or territory is doing to prepare, and what you need to know about what comes next

Medical marijuana plants are seen in Aphria’s greenhouse in Leamington, Ont.

The clock is ticking. Legal recreational marijuana is expected to be a reality in Canada this year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government set July, 2018, as the deadline for legalization in Canada. Canadians may have to wait until late in the summer before they can buy and consume it, however, after a transitional period to make sure provinces and territories have frameworks up and running to handle the new marijuana marketplace.

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

Story continues below advertisement


Table of contents

Province by province:AlbertaBritish ColumbiaManitobaNew BrunswickNewfoundland and LabradorNova Scotia Nunavut OntarioPrince Edward IslandQuebecSaskatchewanYukon

The big picture:How it's being legalizedAnalysis and commentaryGlobe investigations


Alberta

Alberta will turn to the private sector to sell recreational cannabis provincially. Private outlets and their brick-and-mortar stores will sell to consumers but the province will maintain control over online sales. 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. Retailers will not be able to sell marijuana alongside alcohol, pharmaceuticals or tobacco.

Age limit: 18

Other details

  • Marijuana use through smoking or vaping will be disallowed in spaces that often have children present, such as playgrounds
  • The maximum possession amount for adults is 30 grams while possession and use for anyone under the legal age will be prohibited
  • Adults can grow up to four plants per dwelling
  • Drug-impaired driving will not be allowed and will be penalized similarly to how driving under the influence of alcohol is currently enforced

WATCH Premiers discuss issues surrounding marijuana legalization

(Return to top)


British Columbia

Canada's western-most province is set to create a marketplace where both public and private retailers will sell to residents. The only wholesaler of recreational marijuana in British Columbia will be the provincial government through the province's liquor corporation. It is still unclear whether online sales will be done through public or private sellers or a mix, mirroring in-person sales. The government says that revenues from cannabis sales will be directed towards enforcing new marijuana-related legislation and educating youth.

Story continues below advertisement

Age limit: 19

Other details

  • Marijuana and alcohol will not be allowed to be sold in the same store
  • Municipalities will be able to determine if cannabis is sold within their jurisdiction
  • The province’s more than 100 currently illegal dispensaries have the opportunity to apply for a retailing licence
  • The maximum amount of possession per person is 30 grams
  • 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

(Return to top)


Manitoba

Private retailers will exclusively sell marijuana 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. Manitoba is the only province to have an age limit for marijuana that is different than the age limit for alcohol

Age limit: 19

Other details

Story continues below advertisement

  • 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

(Return to top)


New Brunswick

New Brunswick will sell to residents online and through a subsidiary of NB Liquor, the provincial liquor commission. A maximum of 20 stores will be established and managed by Cannabis Management Corp, a Crown corporation. Staff will be trained similar to how sommeliers are and a home-delivery service will be established. Marijuana will be supplied by Zenabis, Organigram and Canopy Growth Corp.

Age limit: 19

Other details

  • Anyone under the legal age will be prohibited from entering a store

watch Pot advocates on how activism will change after legalization

(Return to top)


Newfoundland and Labrador

Legal recreational marijuana will be sold through private retailers but Newfoundland and Labrador's liquor corporation will be responsible for distribution. The Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation will also set prices and be the sole online seller initially, though private retailers may be able to sell via the internet later on.

Age limit: 19

(Return to top)


Northwest Territories

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

Age limit: 19

Educators and public-health officials face a daunting challenge as marijuana becomes legal: how to get through to teens. Mike Hager reports

Other details

  • The maximum possession amount for adults is 30 grams of dried cannabis
  • Adults can grow up to four plants per dwelling
  • Smoking in public places will be limited to reduce effects of second-hand smoke
  • Residents can purchase cannabis products and alcohol in the same location
  • Municipalities can choose to ban the sale of marijuana within their jurisdiction after holding a plebiscite

(Return to top)


Nova Scotia

Alcohol and legal recreational marijuana will be sold alongside each other in provincial liquor stories in Nova Scotia once the latter is legalized in 2018. Online sales will also be controlled by the government's liquor corporation. When cannabis is legalized in July it will only be available at nine outlets, with four in the Halifax area. Nova Scotia's South Shore and Annapolis Valley will not have any legal marijuana retailers.

Age limit: 19

Other details

  • The maximum possession amount for adults is 30 grams. For those under the legal age, five grams is the maximum amount of possession before penalties will be enforced
  • Adults can grow up to four plants per dwelling

(Return to top)


Nunavut

Residents of Nunavut will be able to purchase cannabis through the internet once it is legalized later this year but no brick-and-mortar retailers will be established in 2018. The territory says it is still soliciting feedback from residents.

Age limit: 19

Other details

  • The maximum possession amount for adults is 30 grams
  • Adults can grow up to four plants per dwelling but landlords can disallow cultivation and use by tenants
  • Regulation of edibles and other cannabis products will be determined at a later time
  • 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

Ontario

Canada's largest province was also the first to introduce details on how it will sell cannabis. Ontario residents will be able to purchase marijuana at government-run stores and online. Both in-person and purchases via the internet will be done through a subsidiary of the LCBO. To begin with, 40 stores will be opened in Ontario but the provincial government plans to increase the number of outlets to 80 by Canada Day in 2019 and 150 by 2020. The first batch of stores will be spread across 14 cities in the province. Consumption will be prohibited outside of private residences.

As the 2018 date for legalization looms, the man in charge of that effort is preparing for a year in which his organization will be responsible for unveiling 40 cannabis stores by Canada Day, designing a new retail model for the substance, from scratch.

Age limit: 19

Other details

  • The maximum possession amount for adults is 30 grams. For those under the legal age, five grams is the maximum amount of possession before penalties will be enforced
  • People convicted of illegally selling or distributing cannabis may face up to $250,000 in fines and/or two years of jail time less a day
  • Drug-impaired driving will see stiffer penalties than currently exist and young, commercial and novice drivers will be subject to zero tolerance.

(Return to top)


Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island will be selling legal recreational marijuana through stores operated by its provincial liquor commission, though alcohol will not be sold in the standalone cannabis outlets. Marijuana use will be restricted to private residences but residents will be able to order through a government-operated online retailer that will deliver using Canada Post

Age limit: 19

(Return to top)


Quebec

Legal recreational marijuana will be sold in Quebec through a new government agency, the Société québécoise du cannabis. Fifteen stores will be ready province-wide by July, 2018 and the number is expected to increase to a maximum of 150 in two years. So far, the government has not detailed how prices will be determined.

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
  • 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

(Return to top)


Saskatchewan

Private retailers will be in charge of selling legal cannabis to residents in Saskatchewan. The government will retain oversight responsibilities and the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority says it will issue more than 50 permits in up to 40 municipalities and First Nations communities.

Age limit: Saskatchewan has not yet released the minimum age use

Other details

  • Permits will only be issued for places with more than 2,500 people
  • Municipalities and First Nations have the ability to opt out of having cannabis sold within their jurisdiction

(Return to top)


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 enable licensed private businesses to enter the marketplace and sell to residents.

Age limit: 19

Other details

  • The maximum possession amount for adults is 30 grams of dried cannabis
  • Adults can grow up to four plants per dwelling

(Return to top)


How it's being legalized

Although recreational cannabis use has been banned in Canada for nearly a century, using marijuana for medicinal reasons has been permitted since 2001. As public opinion on the subject has shifted, political parties have followed suit, with both the governing Liberals and the federal NDP campaigning on legalization during the 2015 election.

Both levels of government are working on meeting the Liberals' deadlines. Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, passed overwhelmingly in the House of Commons in November but it still needs to pass in the Senate before receiving royal assent. Each provincial and territorial legislature will also table its own legislation that outlines key information such as the legal age of use and the distribution and sales model.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and his provincial and territorial counterparts reached an agreement in December to split tax revenue generated from the sale of marijuana. The federal government will give 75 per cent of the tax revenue to the provinces and territories and keep 25 per cent, unless the total generated per year is greater than $400-million (the current estimate). In that case, Ottawa would cap its share of revenue at $100-million. The 75-25 split came after Mr. Morneau received criticism for suggesting a 50-50 distribution in June, 2017. Canadian municipalities have also pushed for a share of tax revenue.

Canada's First Nations are also demanding control over the distribution and sale of cannabis products in their communities. At an Assembly of First Nations conference in early December, Chiefs expressed a wide range of views on the Liberal government's plan to legalize marijuana, with some saying that they don't have enough funding or time to ready themselves for the change. But there was widespread agreement on allowing First Nations to determine how marijuana should be sold on reserves, including setting age limits.

The finance ministers also reached an agreement on pricing during their December meeting, stating that their goal is to sell marijuana for around $10 a gram. Statistics Canada is also gathering information on how much marijuana should cost and has turned to digital crowdsourcing in an effort to understand what the black market price is.

(Return to top)


MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION: ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY


(Return to top)


MARIJUANA: INVESTIGATIONS BY THE GLOBE AND MAIL

(Return to top)


With reports from Globe staff and The Canadian Press

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles as we switch to a new provider. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.