Cannabis Legalization in Canada

The Government of Canada gave, managed, and restricted cannabis access on October 17, 2018.

Under federal legislation:

  • Some people have up to 30 grams of cannabis in their home even if it is not for recreational purposes.
  • Adults can have up to four cannabis plants(ex. Blueberry Kush) in their homes.
  • The legal minimum age to purchase and consume cannabis is 18 years old, but some jurisdictions have higher limits.
  • The federal government regulates cannabis production and distribution.
  • The province is in control of the distribution and sale of marijuana.
  • New laws have been enacted to combat drug- and alcohol-impaired driving.

Alberta’s plan for action

The province of Alberta has a responsibility and an opportunity to actively shape how the province will adapt to cannabis legalization in accordance with Albertans’ demands, circumstances, and values.

In Alberta, there is no such thing as a perfect approach to deal with marijuana legalization. Many of our discussions with Albertans revealed that opinions were divided, and we understand that no one single solution will please the views and concerns of all residents.

Our approach is an entry point, and we will closely watch all elements of it as the system evolves. There will be much to learn right after the system is implemented, and we’ll continue to improve what works while eliminating what doesn’t.

We will continue to focus on our four main policy goals:

  1. Keeping cannabis out of the hands of children
  2. Protecting public health
  3. Promoting safety on roads, in workplaces and in public spaces
  4. Limiting the illegal market for cannabis

We will apply these ideals as a strategy for action on which we may measure our long-term progress.

1. Keeping cannabis away from children

Our policy for cannabis legalization is to dissuade young people from using it by lowering the dangers of cannabis use. Setting a minimum age of 18 is one component of this strategy. While we realize that many individuals under the age of 18 will continue to use cannabis, we may prevent some youngsters from experimenting with it, thereby reducing their risk of health problems linked to cannabis abuse.

We will be strict on underage users of marijuana with penalties, such as fines for youth who have less than five grams. Possession over that amount will be considered a crime.

We believe that the illicit market for cannabis is a $46 billion industry that has the potential to grow even larger (for an estimated worldwide revenue of at least $100 billion) if legalized. We will focus on youth and children’s access to healthy food, as well as their exposure to harmful substances from illegal markets (including unknown potencies and other illicit drugs). Similar to public awareness campaigns for alcohol, we will also target parents with public education campaigns aimed at educating them about the health effects and risks of buying from such markets.

Our approach limits youth access to cannabis by:

  • To protect youngsters, the city of Las Vegas has banned public drinking in areas visited by children
  • To discourage underage drinking, several states have set the legal age for purchasing, consuming, and keeping alcohol at 18.
  • Collecting samples from homes and farms under the guise of ensuring that all cannabis cultivated for personal use is grown indoors.
  • Retail cannabis stores will only be allowed within the designated area if they operate outside of 200 m from schools, daycares, and community facilities.
  • To prevent the creation of an illegal cannabis market, local jurisdictions must ensure that all staff at retail locations are of legal age and have been properly educated and trained to sell marijuana.
  • Do some research on how online sales and home delivery can be used to verify the recipient’s age.
  • Working with other governments and external partners to plan public education and awareness efforts for young people and parents about the health risks and consequences of cannabis use in youth

2. Protecting public health

Our approach to marijuana legalization emphasizes significant efforts to safeguard the health and well-being of all Albertans from the dangers of cannabis use. Short-term consequences include memory, attention, and motor function impairment. While we don’t yet have extensive knowledge about long-term effects, some of the risks we do know about include testicular cancer, mental illness, and poor childbirth outcomes.

The use of prescription drugs can have a variety of negative health effects, including addiction, overdose, and adverse drug interactions. Frequent usage, higher potency medications, co-use with alcohol or cigarettes, drug-impaired driving, violence related to the illicit market, unsafe goods and exposure to other more potent illicit substances are all possible concerns. Albertans also cited risks associated with secondhand smoke and potential increases in hospital and healthcare system pressures as factors that concerned them.

Pregnant women and their children are also at increased risk, as are specific groups such as infants and adolescents, and pregnant women whose cannabis usage might have an impact on their child’s cognitive or behavioral development.

This is a summary of our policy statement made in May, divided into three parts. We believe that public health should be a top priority for the province and that we must take action to safeguard Albertans’ health by:

  • Government oversight of the distribution of cannabis products that have been lawfully produced
  • Cities restricting public marijuana use to areas where tobacco smoking is also permissible, and imposing further restrictions to protect the health of children and minimize public exposure to cannabis and second-hand smoke.
  • We’re also working with other governments and the business to produce public education and awareness campaigns to educate people about the dangers of cannabis use, particularly those who are young, pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • To discourage the usage of cannabis together with other substances like alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs, we must educate the public.
  • In order to comply with the law on cannabis, dispensaries must make sure that retail outlets have point-of-purchase material that promotes responsible use and education about health hazards.
  • It is illegal to sell cannabis in the same place as alcohol, cigarettes, or pharmaceuticals.

3. Promoting safe roads, workplaces and public spaces

Whether it’s alcohol, marijuana, or other substances that are impairing your ability to drive safely, you’re still impaired.

Our strategy takes into account that Alber­tans are concerned about cannabis legalization potentially increasing drugged driving and job impairment. Neither is a new problem, but both are hazardous not just for the person who is high, but also for all Alber­tans who might be put in danger as a result of their behavior.

We have a procedure in place for dealing with impairment. We will review all aspects of the system to ensure that it can also cope with cannabis-induced impairment, and we’ll work with businesses and law enforcement to implement any new tools required as a result of cannabis legalization.

The safety of Albertans on our roads and in our workplaces, public places, and on the job is a top concern for us. Our strategy is geared toward addressing impairment and public safety by taking action to safeguard drivers, operators, employees, etc. from drug-impaired driving errors:

  • Cannabis remains the most common drug detected in fatal motor vehicle accidents.
  • We are currently working to leverage our seats at the table to engage with transportation providers, legal systems, and law enforcement agencies in order to examine the existing approach for impaired driving and make necessary adjustments in light of cannabis legalization.
  • In the state of Arizona, a toxicologist was hired to develop strategies for combatting drug-impaired driving in residential neighborhoods.
  • Increasing current zero tolerance to include cannabis for young and graduated drivers will deter youngsters from using cannabis and driving.
  • We’ve teamed up with the Department of Justice to develop protocols to help law enforcement adjust to facial recognition technology.
  • Developing educational materials and public education and awareness about drug-impaired driving are all part of the process.
  • Policy makers are working with the business and labor sectors to evaluate present workplace regulations to prevent impairment at work.

4. Limiting the illegal market

Our strategy is based on the fact that stopping the illegal cannabis market is one of the objectives of legalization. Cannabis has only been available illegally in Canada, aside from authorized sales for medical purposes.

According to research, it appears that no province could completely eliminate the illegal market.

But Albertans’ decisions today, especially about how cannabis will be sold and used in the future, can go a long way toward reducing criminal activity and restricting access to those that are lawfully allowed to acquire and consume it.

There is a chance to address the problem of illicit trade and its presence in society.

To that end, our strategy includes measures to further safeguard Albertans from the hazards of the illicit market by:

  • In the meantime, we will continue to work with interested parties and organizations on the distribution side of the equation. This is necessary in order to establish a distribution system under which government has control over products entering our province from authorized producers.
  • providing access for adults to purchase legal cannabis through retail outlets
  • Adults with a valid medical prescription are allowed to grow up to four plants indoors at home for personal use, provided they buy their seeds from a cannabis retailer.
  • This will cut down on the demand for cannabis from the black market in more rural and remote areas, as customers are not within a retail location.
  • Rehabilitation of illicit markets funds the purchase from and trade within these illegal networks.

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