Recreational weed will be legal in Canada in less than a month but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a free for all. Just the opposite, in fact.
The federal government has laid out rigorous restrictions on things like buying, selling, and growing weed, but individual provinces have also come up with their own sets of rules, some of which make more sense than others.
Since it’s all a bit of a chaotic mess, we’ve put together a handy guide of some of the dumbest regulations to look out for next month:
Quebec banning the sale of anything with a cannabis leaf on it
The law: In Quebec, weed will be sold only through government-run shops. But according to the province’s Cannabis Regulation Act, cannabis leaves and other logos or images associated with weed won’t be allowed to be used on products that aren’t legal cannabis.
“No name, logo, distinguishing guise, design, image or slogan that is not directly associated with cannabis, a brand of cannabis, the SQDC or a cannabis producer may be used on a facility, vehicle, poster or an object that is not cannabis but that could imply an indirect link. In Québec, it will not be permitted, for example, to sell T-shirts with the printed picture of a cannabis leaf,” the regulations state.
Punishment: Fines ranging from $2,500 $62,500 for first offence and up to $125,000 for repeat offenders.
Why it’s dumb: To be honest, I have no idea why they would make this a law in the first place. It seems hysterical. Like, are kids going to see a t-shirt with a leaf on it and run out to hit the bong? Are Japanese maple leaves also going to be banned in Quebec?
BC banning at-home cannabis plants that can be seen by the public
The law: BC is allowing its residents to grow the federally allotted four plants per household, but with a big caveat. “The plants must not be visible from public spaces off the property.”
Punishment: A $5,000 fine and a maximum of three months in jail for first-time offenders, which doubles for repeat offenders.
Why it’s dumb: People grow things outside—on their porches and balconies, and in their yards. This law seems overly harsh and emphasizes the existing stigma on cannabis, which is after all, a plant. As pot activist Dana Larsen wrote in the Georgia Straight, “If you are rich you can put up a big fence on a big property, but if you live in an apartment it’s virtually impossible to keep it completely out of sight.”
Nova Scotia is selling weed with liquor
The law: Rec weed in Nova Scotia will be sold through the province’s liquor board and will be available at the same stores where people buy booze. The cannabis stores will be located inside the liquor stores—a store within a store kinda deal.
Why it’s dumb: Generally speaking, weed and liquor are not a great mix. It’s very easy to do overdo it, get the spins, and vomit. Anyone who has consumed weed for a while knows this, but newbies may not be as familiar and placing these two substances so close together could give the wrong impression that they’re good bedfellows. Also, sometimes people who have substance abuse issues, including alcoholism, use cannabis to reduce their intake of other drugs. It doesn’t make sense to force someone with a drinking problem to go into a liquor store in order to obtain cannabis.
No growing in Manitoba or Quebec
The laws: Despite the federal government allowing Canadians to grow up to four plants per household, Manitoba and Quebec are banning it in their provinces.
Punishment: In Quebec, if you’re caught growing a plant, you face fines of 250 to $750 for first offence, and up to $1,500 for repeat offences. In Manitoba, you’ll be fined $2,542.
Why it’s dumb: The federal government is allowing people to grow their own weed, so really the provinces should fall in line. Quebec’s Health Minister Lucie Charlebois cited fears over her grandkids eating a neighbour’s weed plant as a reason no one should be allowed to grow at home.
The fines these provinces are imposing are being criticized as cash grabs that veer into unconstitutional territory. I wouldn’t be surprised if these laws resulted in a challenge. From a more practical perspective, I doubt that the majority of people will start growing their own weed just because it’s legal to do so—it’s much more convenient to buy it. So these rules seem unnecessary at best.
No blazing on boats in Ontario, BC, PEI, Manitoba
The laws: It’s pretty straightforward: you can’t consume cannabis on a boat if you’re in any of these places.
Punishment: In Ontario, fines of up to $1,000 for a first offence or $5,000 for subsequent offences. In BC, fines of up $5,000 for a first offence, subsequent offences $10,000 or three to six months in jail. In PEI, a $200 to $400 for a first offence, and $400 to $700 for subsequent offences. In Manitoba, a $2542 fine.
Why it’s dumb: I understand why you would ban someone driving a boat from consuming cannabis, but I don’t understand why passengers, especially on a private vessel, would be banned. It seems like this is the least offensive way to smoke a joint—literally out on on the open seas. Plus, booze cruises are definitely a thing, and probably a lot more dangerous.
Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.
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