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Canada

Buying pot in Canada: who is selling and where can it be smoked?

At least 111 legal pot shops are expected to open across the nation of 37 million people on Wednesday

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2018, 11:14am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 October, 2018, 3:03am

Canada has become the second country in the world to legalise recreational cannabis, five years after Uruguay. The legislation leaves it to the 13 provinces and territories to organise sales and distribution, and some are taking slightly different approaches.

Who can buy, grow cannabis?

Adults may possess up to 30 grams of legally bought cannabis. Households will also be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants, except in Quebec and Manitoba, where this will be prohibited.

The federal government set the minimum legal age for consumption at 18, but most provinces and territories have raised it to 19, except Quebec and Alberta. In Quebec, a newly-elected government has promised to hike it to 21.

Where to buy?

The provinces and territories will be responsible for setting rules for sales and distribution, which has led to a patchwork of regulations across the country.

Six, including Quebec, will make pot available through government-run stores. Four others will license private retailers, while British Columbia stands out for its mix of both options.

Online mail order sales will be allowed across Canada. In Ontario it will be the only option until retail stores are up and running next year, with a last-minute policy change unveiled by the new government.

At least 111 legal pot shops are expected to open across the nation of 37 million people on Wednesday. According to the federal government, there could be as many as 300 storefronts across Canada selling cannabis by year’s end.

What can be bought and at what price?

Canadians will be allowed to buy dried cannabis, oils and seeds.

Sales of derivatives like edibles will be legalised next year, but in the meantime people can make their own cannabis-infused brownies or beverages at home.

Selling prices will depend on the province, ranging from C$6 to C$10 per gram, plus excise taxes of about C$1. Proceeds will be split between the federal and provincial governments, as well as consumption taxes of 10 to 15 per cent, depending on the jurisdiction.

Where can pot be consumed?

Where smoking will be allowed varies greatly from province to province, city to city, and in some cases even neighbourhood to neighbourhood.

In New Brunswick and Newfoundland, for example, consumers will only be allowed to smoke at home.

Others, like Quebec, will prohibit smoking in and near entrances to schools and workplaces – including bars and restaurants – as is the rule for tobacco. Some municipalities are considering going further with an outright ban in all public spaces.

Who can license growers? 

The federal health ministry is responsible for licensing growers, and to date 120 companies have been granted licenses.

The largest are publicly traded on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges. Some started growing licensed medicinal pot in 2001 and have transitioned to also sell in the recreational pot market.

Hundreds more license applications are currently under review by officials.