The future of cannabis use in Canada is soon to change.  With legalization targeted for the summer of 2018, it is important to know what you can and cannot do with your pot.  Although cannabis and its use in certain circumstances will be legal, it will be highly regulated, more so than alcohol or smoking.  Enforcement of the regulations will be discretionary and up to front-line police officers.  It is best to know what is allowed and what is not in order to avoid becoming a victim of “legalization.”

DO: grow your own cannabis.  Plant it in the garden, in pots on the patio or in the house.

DON’T: grow more than 4 plants.  An individual over the age of 18 will be allowed to possess up to 4 cannabis plants.

DON’T: grow more than 4 plants per dwelling.  If you live with other individuals over the age of 18, your household (dwelling) can legally grow 4 plants.  It is not 4 plants each, it is 4 plants in total.  Roommates, siblings, spouses will have to learn to share.

DON’T: show off your prize cannabis plant.  There will be cannabis category “best in show” ribbon at the fall fair.  It is prohibited to possess a flowering/budding plant in public.  This also means that you can’t grow your cannabis at the community garden or in the park behind your house.  You cannot grow pot in public.

DO: possess you cannabis in your home, lots of it.  Harvest your plants as often as you desire and store your pot in your home.

DON’T: possess more than 30 grams of cannabis in public.  You cannot have more than 30 grams in your possession while driving, while walking down the street, or while sitting in the park. Unless you can get to the friend’s house without entering or traveling through a public space, it is illegal to possess that pot. Otherwise, no more than 30 grams while in a public space.

DON’T: distribute more than 30 grams of cannabis.  You can have a keg party, but you can’t have a pot party.

DON’T: sell pot, in any form to anyone at any time.  I am sure this doesn’t come as a surprise.

DO: enjoy your cannabis in your home, in your yard, on your property.

DON’T: give your pot to anyone under the age of 18, that’s not allowed.  While it appears that transferring small amounts of cannabis between people over the age of 18 will be allowed, access to minors is highly regulated.

DON’T: smoke your pot where you at least couldn’t legally smoke a cigarette.  What is important to understand as well is that although cannabis will be legalized Canada wide, the Federal Government has left it up to the individual provinces to establish how the pot will be sold, who will be able to consume it and where.  Think alcohol sales and drinking ages.  Alcohol is legal in the country, but there are differences in how it is controlled by the provinces and territories.  Ontario has let it be known that their cannabis policies will likely mirror alcohol and tobacco with certain exceptions.

If you choose to “do a don’t” despite so-called legalization you could face criminal prosecution.  This is where so-called legalization takes an unprecedented turn.  Think back to the alcohol or tobacco references.  These are regulated activities that carry regulatory-but not criminal penalties, should someone break the rules.

For example:

–  If you possess open alcohol in public, the police will write you a ticket

– If you smoke in a no smoking zone, the police will write you a ticket

– If you don’t pay the ticket you will face regulatory sanctions, commonly linked to the inability to renew driver’s license until the account is settled.

This will not be the same with weed.  All breaches of the law are punishable in the criminal court and carry consequences such as a fine, probation and even jail.

The ultimate consequence is the possibility of acquiring a criminal record for something that is supposed to be legalized.  No matter how many times an individual is charged with open liquor in public or smoking in a no smoking zone, the penalty will never include a permanent notation on a criminal record.  Not the case with pot when cannabis is legalized.

Frontlin\ police officers will have the discretion to charge individuals in contravention of the law under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA), just like old times, or under the new Section 51 of the Cannabis Act.  If charged under the CDSA, the individual will face criminal prosecution.  Court dates, Judges and the possibility of a criminal record, sanctions such as fine, probation or even jail.  Section 51 of the Cannabis Act allows the office the discretion to proceed by way of a ticket.  The ticket will set out the offence, the fine and a due date for the fine.  If the ticket is paid on time, then a record is made and kept separate from a criminal record, similar to a driving record.  A speeding conviction is stored on a separate record for enforcement purposes but is not noted on a criminal record.  There will likely be a similar type of record kept for ticketed cannabis offences not resulting in a criminal record.  What is shocking, frustrating and unconstitutional is the fact that a cannabis ticket can result in a criminal record.  Break a weed rule and get a ticket.  Don’t pay the ticket and get a criminal record.  If an individual doesn’t pay the ticket on time, then the default position is a criminal conviction and a notation on a permanent criminal record, and face a criminal fine.

Just because cannabis will be legalized by the Liberal government does not mean that Canadians can be liberal with their cannabis use.  If you or someone you know is charged with a cannabis-related offence now or after legalization, you need a lawyer who will fight to ensure that a permanent criminal conviction does not register.

The lawyers at Millars Law are skilled advocates in the cannabis arena and are willing to fight for the rights of cannabis users.

Call us today:

(519) 657-1LAW (1529) or info@millarslaw.com