Marijuana Laws in Canada

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As of October 17, 2018, cannabis is no longer considered a “controlled substance” in Canada.

The Cannabis Act legalizes marijuana for recreational use and removes the prohibition of its production, possession, and sale.

Previously, marijuana was legal for medical use only in Canada and was governed by the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).

Licenses came from Health Canada. Hemp plant cultivation is also legal for those licensed by Health Canada to produce grain, fiber, and seed.

medical marijuana
Medical marijuana

Cannabis for Medical Purposes in Canada

In 2018, new regulations replaced the MMPR (Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations), formerly ACMPR, with the passing of the Cannabis Act.

Patients can access cannabis for medical purposes[1]  through their health care provider.

There’s also improved accessibility to therapeutic options through the Cannabis Act.

Canadians who want to participate in the medical cannabis program must meet with their healthcare providers.

They can discuss whether or not marijuana is a good option for their medical condition and symptoms.

health canada
Health Canada

If the answer is yes, the practitioner will provide a medical document or authorization to legally obtain, possess, and use cannabis to treat your condition and symptoms.

This allows them to purchase marijuana from a licensed producer[1] . These patients may purchase marijuana deemed to be safe and of high quality.

Those with authorization can also grow their own cannabis [2] for medical purposes.

They also have the right to designate someone else to produce the marijuana for them[3] . Under ACMPR, they may only grow a limited amount of cannabis at any given time.

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    Accessing Cannabis Legally in Canada

    You can legally possess, carry, and share up to 30 grams of cannabis in Canada.

    The legal age to purchase and consume marijuana is 19 in most provinces.

    It is typically sold in a government-run retail shop or a privately run dispensary. Each province/territory has its own rules on purchasing cannabis.  

    Selling medical marijuana in Canada
    Selling medical marijuana in Canada

    Prior to full legalization, you needed to take the following steps to obtain cannabis from a licensed producer of your choice:

    • Complete that licensed producer’s registration form online or in-person
    • Provide the licensed producer with your original medical document or recommendation

    To grow your own medical cannabis you needed to register with Health Canada.

    You could also designate someone else to grow the medical cannabis for you.

    Compassion Clubs & Dispensaries in Canada

    compassion club canada
    Compassion club Canada

    Prior to legalization, storefronts that sold marijuana were called compassion clubs and dispensaries.

    They were not licensed by Health Canada and instead sold unregulated, untested products supplied by illegal growers.

    Nowadays, storefronts that sell marijuana legally are authorized retailers in Canada.

    Legal cannabis is quality controlled and tested for accuracy of THC and CBD amounts as well as safety.

    These non-medical products include information on their packaging[1]  stating the product’s legal status.

    They may have an excise stamp, specific colored packaging, a health warning label, and child-resistant packaging.

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    Regulations No Longer Valid

    Regulations of cannabis that previously existed under the ACMPR were repealed with the passing of the Cannabis Act.

    Laws around medical and non-medical use of cannabis were amended to create consistency, improve patient access, and reduce the risk of abuse of regulations.

    Amendments relating to the production, distribution, sale, importation, and exportation of cannabis for edible cannabis, cannabis extracts, and cannabis topicals[1]  were announced on June 14, 2019.

    They went into effect on October 17, 2019.  The 12-month transition period for cannabis oil to be updated to the amendments took place from October 17, 2019, to October 16, 2020.

    The Canadian government plans to re-evaluate cannabis legislation in 2023 and possibly amend the Cannabis Act again.

    Marijuana licensed holder in Canada
    Marijuana licensed holder in Canada

    What is a Licence Holder in Canada?

    A licence holder holds a license to grow cannabis and produce marijuana products. This license is issued to qualified applicants by Health Canada under the Cannabis Regulations.

    These parties may produce quality-controlled medical marijuana under sanitary, secure conditions. They may be authorized by Health Canada to produce the following:

    As of February 24, 2022, Canada had roughly 800 licensed marijuana producers legally operating in the country.[1] 

    They must all comply with all Cannabis Act regulations to stay in business. Each one is regularly inspected by Health Canada.

    Canada’s licence holders are legally authorized to sell cannabis for retail under the control of the individual provinces and territories through government control or privatized retail systems.

    The system was re-categorized in 2019 by Health Canada into different licences[1] :

    • Cultivation (growing cannabis)
    • Processing (making cannabis products)
    • Selling cannabis for medical purposes
    • Testing cannabis
    • Research using cannabis

    Each patient must also be registered with the licensed producer from which they wish to purchase medical marijuana.

    Cannabis products are securely delivered to clients via courier or mail.[1] [2] As of September 2021, 264,686 people are registered to buy medical marijuana from licensed producers

    Marijuana laws in Canada
    Marijuana laws in Canada

    How to Become a Licensed Producer of Cannabis in Canada

    You must submit an application if you want to become a licensed producer of marijuana in Canada. All applications go through an extensive and strict review process.

    Each one is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Any person who plans to work as key personnel within the medical cannabis industry must go through and pass a rigorous security clearance process.

    Each licensed producer applicant must show how the facility’s measures will control inventory and guarantee security.

    Facilities must meet all of the regulatory requirements under the country’s Good Production Practices. Inspectors from Health Canada will verify each facility’s compliance.

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    Jenny Bloom

    Editor-in-Chief at I Love Growing Marijuana

    Jenny is ILGM's unstoppable force when it comes to quality control for all the content on the blog. In the meantime, she manages to write many of the articles herself as well. She's not a lawyer but is well-read on all the latest marijuana legislations, which she always keeps up to date!... [Read full bio]

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      2 comments on “Marijuana Laws in Canada”

      1. Why are you giving false Information? You updated this in 2022 so you know that it has been legalized since october 2018. Everyone can smoke it over the age of 19, indoors or just not in public, the exact same as cigarettes.. every household Is allowed to grow 4 plants. You are allowed to have 1 oz in the car but is considered just like alcohol, no smoking it in your car and No smoking and driving. Please do a real update instead of publishing things that are no longer true.