Medical marijuana has been legal since 2001. The proposed changes will not affect the producers or supply of medical cannabis in the country. The impetus for legalizing recreational cannabis is to create a safe marketplace for recreational users and to take money from the black market into the government. Legalizing marijuana gives Canada a chance (and the funds) to regulate and control it, and to keep it out of the hands of children and teens.
The Canadian Federal Government’s Plan for Recreational Marijuana
The government has rolled out its plan to how they plan to proceed with legalizing marijuana. They defined their goals in what they call “The Cannabis Act.” This act will work as the legal framework to control the production, distribution, sale, and possession of recreational marijuana across the country.
The Cannabis Act
According to Canada.ca, the Act seeks to:
- restrict youth access to cannabis
- protect young people from promotion or enticements to use cannabis
- deter and reduce criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those breaking the law, especially those who import, export or provide cannabis to youth
- protect public health through strict product safety and quality requirements
- reduce the burden on the criminal justice system
- provide for the legal production of cannabis to reduce illegal activities
- allow adults to possess and access regulated, quality controlled legal cannabis
- enhance public awareness of the health risks associated with cannabis
Federal Rules for Cannabis in Canada
The Canadian government is dedicated to setting requirements for producers who grow marijuana for sales. This includes regulating the types of cannabis that can be sold, setting standardized serving sizes and potency, and dictating the types of cannabis products that can be sold. They will disallow certain ingredients while ensuring good production practices are upheld. The Canadian government will control how cannabis is advertised and track all marijuana from seed to sale.
Access To Marijuana, Including Growing Your Own
Once legal, access to cannabis will still be limited. The federal government has chosen 18 as the legal age to purchase cannabis. Cannabis will be available to buy in fresh, dried, or oil forms from a provincially licensed retailer. If the province has not designated retailers, purchases can be made online. Adults can have (and share with other adults) up to 30 grams of legal, dried marijuana. They can grow up to 4 plants and make their own edibles.
Trusting the Provinces
The federal government is relying on the provincial governments to share the responsibility of overseeing this new system. Each province or territory can increase the minimum age of use, lower the personal possession amount, add rules for the at-home growth of cannabis plants, and restrict the areas in which cannabis can be consumed.
Public Education on Cannabis
The Canadian government is devoting $46 million over 5 years to cannabis education. They would like to raise the awareness of the health and safety risks of marijuana use. This is particularly important for the youth in our country.
The Alberta Government’s Plan for Recreational Marijuana
Alberta is one of the few provinces allowing private retailers to sell cannabis. However, they will be overseen by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) and are not allowed to sell it alongside tobacco, pharmaceuticals, or alcohol products. The government will still control the online sales of marijuana in Alberta.
Those chosen to sell cannabis in Alberta will need to meet scrupulous standards. Background checks will exclude those who have links to organized crime or the drug trade. Those with criminal convictions related to drug trafficking or violence will not be given licenses to sell. Staff who work at retail locations will need to be 18 and complete a Sell Safe course offered by AGLC. Store hours must be between 10 am and 2 am.
In continuity with our age of majority for both alcohol and cigarettes, Alberta will keep with 18 as the legal age of consumption. Alberta has limited the purchase amount to 30 grams per transaction, which is congruent with the federal public possession limit. Online sales will be limited to one site, operated by AGLC.
Use will be allowed in some of the current smoking areas and on private property. Use will be banned in cars but allowed in RVs, which are considered temporary residences. Just like alcohol, cannabis is not allowed to be open and within reach of the driver when in a vehicle.
Cannabis smoking or vaping is not allowed in the same areas that cigarette smoking is not allowed, or near locations that contain sensitive individuals such as children or the infirm. This would restrict or prohibit use near hospitals, schools, childcare facilities, playgrounds, sports fields, zoos, and outdoor activity locations like outdoor pools and bicycle parks.
Alberta is dedicating to creating more public awareness about marijuana impairment. This will include impaired driving and impaired work. They are introducing a roadside saliva test to crack down on those driving while high. The provincial government is reviewing the current occupational health and safety regulations to address impairment issues as they refer to cannabis.
Common Sense and Cannabis
The rules around recreational marijuana in Alberta are very similar to those of alcohol. The legal age and purchasing regulations mimic those of alcohol sales. Vehicle use and roadside tests will be very comparable, as well the impairment laws.
If you have more questions, do not hesitate to contact Herbal Relief for the most comprehensive information on cannabis in our province.