As many Albertan’s are aware, the legalization of cannabis is due to come into effect summer of 2018. The legislative change has raised numerous questions for Albertan’s pertaining to criminality, possession, usage, and the ability to personally cultivate cannabis plants. The blog will provide a broad overview of what changes Albertan’s can come to expect when cannabis becomes legal.
Current Legal Status
As of April 26, 2018, the current laws and criminal sanctions pertaining to cannabis usage and sale are still in force and effect throughout Canada. Thus, cannabis remains a schedule II drug as detailed in the Controlled Drug and Substances Act. Amnesty will not be provided to those who are currently charged under the Canadian Criminal Code or the Controlled Drug and Substances Act. Currently, individuals possessing and selling cannabis for non-medical reasons shall be acting in an illegal manner. The same logic applies to production and distribution unless expressly authorized, production and distribution shall remain illegal until the proposed legislative changes have achieved royal assent.
Proposed Cannabis Legalization
Upon the Cannabis Act receiving royal assent and coming into force, cannabis possession, purchase, sale, and cultivation will become legal within certain permitted parameters.
Any adult 18 years or older shall legally be able to possess up to 30 grams of legally purchased dried cannabis or the equivalent in non-dried form. The same adult shall if inclined purchase cannabis or cannabis products from a provincially licensed retailer. Cultivation of cannabis plants will become legal, as a residence will be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants. A reminder that cultivation is per residence, not per individual residing in the residence.
Public consumption of cannabis will be allowable with certain restrictions. Individuals are allowed to consume cannabis in their residence along with certain public spaces, where smoking tobacco is allowed. Where you cannot legally smoke cannabis will include any hospital, school, or childcare property. Prescribed distances will be implemented where cannabis consumption will not be allowable such as around playgrounds, sports field, skateboard park, zoo, or outdoor theatre. Unlike tobacco, a full-ban will be implemented on smoking cannabis in any vehicle. Furthermore, municipalities may implement restrictions that are deemed appropriate. The purported purpose of the legislative restrictions is to limit second-hand exposure and the protection of children.
Any individual found to be driving under the influence of cannabis will be charged with a criminal offence and faces possible license suspension, fines, or even a period of incarceration. Being under the influence of cannabis will negatively affect motor-skills, placing all motorists at risk. Plan ahead and either designate an individual to remain sober, take a taxi, or public transportation.
Soon, Albertan’s will be legally allowed to purchase, possess, consume, and cultivate cannabis. If individuals, ensure they adhere to all restrictions and legislative guidelines no issues will arise. Failing to adhere to such rules, will still expose individuals to criminal sanctions. Ignorance of the law is not a valid defence. If an individual is unsure as to the legality of their action, it is incumbent upon them to undertake the necessary steps to discover the pertinent information.
Craig Donkin is a Student-at-Law with Rowanoak Law Office LLP.