On October 17, cannabis will become legal across Canada, but just because it’s a federal initiative, that doesn’t mean we won’t see wide variations in how the product is sold from province to province. As the second country in the world (after Uruguay) to legalize recreational cannabis, Canada is about to enter uncharted territory when it comes to the ways in which legalized pot — for both recreational and medicinal use — will roll out from coast to coast. Be ready for it by checking out our Canada-meets-cannabis primer below:
Rules will differ province by province
Just as the law states that under-age 18-year-olds from Ottawa, ON can legally get a drink in Gatineau, QC , the legal cannabis use age will differ between provinces. So will the types of places cannabis is sold, the amount you’ll be allowed to buy, and where you’ll be able to use it.
Ontario retail shoppers will have to wait (or go online)
The province’s new premier has scrapped the previous government’s plan to sell cannabis through its Liquor Control Board and instead gone with a private retailer model similar to Alberta’s — except stores in the province won’t be ready to open until next year. Until then, Ontarians can buy online. Meanwhile, British Columbia will have just one shop ready to open on October 17.
Edibles aren’t legal (yet)
The federal government wants more time to navigate the selling of cannabis-infused edibles in stores, but you can legally make your own at home. While that conversation takes place, major brands (like brewer Corona) are considering producing recreational canna-beverages. For now, buyers are limited to oils, dried cannabis, and seeds.
The Feds say you can grow your own, but not all provinces agree
The government permits people to grow up to four plants for their own use (as long as they’re out of sight from the general public — so, like, not on your front lawn), but provinces like Manitoba say no way. Standing by for the court challenge in three… two… one.
Cannabis and driving do NOT go together
The Drager DrugTest 5000 was recently approved for roadside testing. It’s a handheld device (like a breathalyzer) that tests for THC in a driver’s saliva. If you’re found to be behind the wheel with a range of two and five nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood in your system, you can be fined up to $1,000 and have your licence suspended. There is, however, an ongoing public debate about the test’s accuracy. In some provinces, a cannabis purchase must be transported in the trunk of your car, out of reach of any passengers.
The U.S. is making noise about giving cannabis-using Canadians trouble at the border
30 U.S. states have okayed the use of cannabis (some recreationally and some medicinally) and yet U.S. Customs and Border Control may still ask you about drug use and your involvement in the cannabis industry — both users and investors could be turned away from the border or even banned from entering the U.S.. Consider deleting those social media #420 posts from your phone before crossing.
THC vs CBD: Knowing the difference
For people looking to explore the health and wellness aspects of cannabis products without getting high, CBD products will likely be your jam. CBD oil, for example, is thought to help with problems ranging from anxiety to chronic pain. As for THC (the stuff that makes you feel stoned), it too can have health benefits. For people with appetite issues (for example, cancer patients or severe endometriosis sufferers) THC can help to increase that, thanks to what you called “the munchies” effect back in high school. Recent studies show that it might also help people with neurological disorders like MS.
The Endocannabinoid system isn’t what you think it is
The system, a set of lock and key receptors located throughout the human body, gets its name because the scientist who discovered it used cannabis to trace the paths it takes through the human body. The body makes its own endocannabinoids, which help to regulate our physical and mental health. The system can be boosted by the use of cannabis (or CBD or THC on their own) but also by non-cannabis phytocannabinoids — plant-based supplements like the ones made by Emerald Health Therapeutics.
The canna-business has the potential to be a very big deal
Legalization in Canada means that federally approved growers can go big. Really big. Emerald’s Delta, BC facility boasts a 1.1 million square foot greenhouse and growers there hope to be producing 75,000 kilograms of product annually by 2020 — and that’s just one company.