The Cannabis Act - What It Is And What It Means To You


Last week the the first outline of Bill C-45, also known as The Cannabis Act was unveiled by the Canadian Government.  The proposal looks to create a “strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis” within Canadian boundaries.  The act, slated to come into legislation before July 2018, will, in all likeliness, change from the initial proposal — however, the first form of the proposal gives us a pretty clear idea as to what to expect from The Cannabis Act.

Restricted Access to Youth

The Cannabis Act proposes many rules and regulations, but there is a strong focus on how legalization will affect Canadian youth.  The act looks to impose strict regulations designed to protect youth from accessing cannabis.  It proposes 2 new criminal offences, with maximum penalties of 14 years in jail for giving for selling cannabis to youth, and using a youth to commit a cannabis-related offence.  To deter youth from using cannabis, the act out would also prohibit products that are appealing to youth, and packaging or labelling cannabis in a way that makes it appealing to youth, amongst other points.  These infractions would warrant penalties of a fine up to $5 million, or 3 years in jail.

The Government has also committed nearly $10 million to a “comprehensive public awareness campaign” in order to inform Canadians, specifically youth, of the health risks involved in cannabis consumption, as well as surveillance activities.

Controlled Access to Adults

This section of the proposal outlines the rules and regulations of how the new legislation will affect the vast majority of pot-smoking Canadians.  The outline proposes that adults, over the age of 18, would be legally able to:

  • possess up to 30 grams of legal dried cannabis or equivalent in non-dried form
  • share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults
  • purchase dried of fresh cannabis and cabbies oil from a provincially-licensed retailer
  • in provinces that have not yet or choose not to put in place a regulated retail framework, individuals may purchase cannabis online from a federally-licences producer
  • grow up to 4 cannabis plants, up to a maximum height of 100cm, per residence for personal use from licensed seed or seedlings
  • make cannabis products, such as food and drinks, at home provided that organic solvents are not used

It also states that there would be a shared responsibility between the different levels of government — federal, provincial, and municipal — in overseeing the new system.  Responsibilities help by the federal government would be to set strict regulations for producers who grow and manufacture cannabis, and to set industry-wide  rules and standards including (but not limited to):

  • the type of cannabis products available for sale
  • packing and labelling requirements
  • productions practices
  • prohibiting certain ingredients in the grow process

Provincial/Territorial responsibilities would follow guidelines set on the Federal level, but would also allow for increases in the minimum age restriction, lowering the personal amounts allowed, the creation of additional at-home growing rules, and changes in restrictions of where cannabis can be used publicly.

Criminal Penalties

As with any new laws, so come the penalties for breaking said laws.  The new regulations aren’t far off from where they currently lie.  The outline states that possession over the legal limit will warrant a penalty of tickets for small amounts and/or up to 5 years in jail.  Illegal distribution and sale, alongside production beyond personal cultivation limits — maximum 4 plants, per household, no taller than 1m — or using combustible solvents garners tickets for small amounts and/or up to 14 years in jail.  Taking cannabis in any form across Canadian borders will, of course, garner up to 14 years in jail.

Although July 2018 is still a ways out, there’s much to be excited about in terms of the legalization process.  The outline has had some mixed reactions, but for the most part, it’s a positive stride toward giving the Canadian cannabis culture what they want.  All of this, while ensuring that Canadian youth is kept safe, and organized crime gets taken out of the picture.