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The Review

Cannabis legalization

Posted On: Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Ontario’s new rules will keep the people of Ontario safe now that recreational cannabis has been made legal by the federal government.

Cannabis legalization

 

Overview

Recreational cannabis was legalized on October 17, 2018 by the Federal Government. Ontario’s Government for the People has put rules in place to keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, keep our roads safe and combat the illegal market.

Ontario now has laws in place (after extensive public and stakeholder engagement) about how, where and who can buy and possess cannabis in the province. The government is also moving forward with a tightly regulated private retail model for cannabis that would launch by April 1, 2019.

Medical cannabis will continue to be subject to different rules than recreational cannabis.

If you have questions, comments or feedback about our approach, contact us.

Cannabis - 19 plus icon Minimum age is 19

You must be 19 and older to buy, use, possess and grow recreational cannabis. This is the same as the minimum age for the sale of tobacco and alcohol in Ontario.

Cannabis - private residence icon Where to use it

The government has enacted the following rules for using cannabis, both medical and recreational.

Where you can smoke and vape cannabis*

  • Private residences – this does not include residences that are also workplaces (e.g. long-term care and/or retirement homes)
  • Many outdoor public places (e.g. sidewalks, parks)
  • Designated guest rooms in hotels, motels and inns
  • Residential vehicles and boats that meet certain criteria (e.g. have permanent sleeping accommodations and cooking facilities, and are parked or anchored)
  • Scientific research and testing facilities (if the cannabis use is for scientific research and testing purposes)
  • Controlled areas in:
    • long-term care homes
    • certain retirement homes
    • residential hospices
    • provincially-funded supportive housing
    • designated psychiatric facilities or veterans’ facilities

*Additional restrictions on smoking and vaping may exist in municipal bylaws, lease agreements, and the policies of employers and property owners.

Where you cannot smoke or vape cannabis

Indoors

You cannot smoke or vape cannabis in:

  • indoor common areas in condos, apartment buildings and university/college residences
  • enclosed public places and enclosed work places
  • non-designated guest rooms in hotels, motels and inns

Schools and places where children gather

You cannot smoke or vape cannabis:

  • at school, on school grounds, and all public areas within 20m of these grounds
  • on children’s playgrounds and public areas within 20m of playgrounds
  • in child care centres, or where an early years program is provided
  • in places where home child care is provided — even if children aren’t present

Hospitals, hospices, care homes and other facilities

You cannot smoke or vape cannabis:

  • within 9m from the entrance or exit of hospitals (public/private), psychiatric facilities, long-term care homes, independent health facilities
  • on outdoor grounds of hospitals (public/private) and psychiatric facilities
  • in non-controlled areas in long-term care homes, certain retirement homes, provincially-funded supportive housing, designated psychiatric or veterans’ facilities, and residential hospices

Publicly owned spaces

You cannot smoke or vape cannabis in publicly-owned sport fields (not including golf courses), nearby spectator areas and public areas within 20m of these areas.

Vehicles and boats

You cannot consume cannabis (smoking, vaping, eating) in a vehicle or boat that is being driven or is at risk of being put into motion.

Other outdoor areas

You cannot smoke or vape cannabis:

  • in restaurants and on bar patios and public areas within 9m of a patio
  • on outdoor grounds of specified Ontario government office buildings
  • in reserved seating areas at outdoor sports and entertainment locations
  • on grounds of community recreational facilities, and public areas within 20m of those grounds
  • in sheltered outdoor areas with a roof and more than two walls which the public or employees frequent, or are invited to (e.g. a bus shelter)

Cannabis - driving icon Driving

Driving impaired by cannabis is illegal and dangerous. Cannabis, like many other drugs, slows your reaction time and increases your chances of being in a collision.

If a police officer finds that you are impaired by any drug, including cannabis, you will face serious penalties, including:

  • an immediate licence suspension
  • financial penalties
  • possible vehicle impoundment
  • possible criminal record
  • possible jail time

Police officers have tests to determine if you are impaired and are now also authorized to use oral fluid screening devices at roadside to help enforce the law.

Learn what counts as impaired driving and the penalties you could face for it.

Zero tolerance for young, novice and commercial drivers

You are not allowed to have any cannabis in your system (as detected by a federally approved oral fluid screening device) if you are driving a motor vehicle and:

  • you are 21 or under
  • have a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence
  • the vehicle you are driving requires an A-F driver’s licence or Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR)
  • you are driving a road-building machine

Learn more about zero tolerance for young, novice and commercial drivers.

Cannabis - OCS logo icon Where to buy recreational cannabis

People 19 and over are able to purchase cannabis online through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS.ca). Online orders will be delivered safely and securely. Consumers will be required to verify their age to accept delivery and no packages will be left unattended at the door.

You are permitted to purchase up to 30 grams (about one ounce) of dried recreational cannabis at one time for personal use.

The Ontario Cannabis Store website is the only legal option for purchasing recreational cannabis. It follows strict rules set by the federal government.

The government is also moving forward with a tightly regulated private retail model for cannabis that will launch by April 1, 2019. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is the provincial regulator authorized to grant store licences. The Ontario Cannabis Store will be the exclusive wholesaler to these stores. Private stores will be introduced with strict controls to safeguard children and youth and combat the illegal market.

Cannabis - 30 gram icon How much cannabis you are able to possess

You are able to have a maximum of 30 grams (about one ounce) of dried cannabis in public at any time.

 Growing cannabis

You are able to grow up to four plants per residence (not per person).

Cannabis - workplace icon Rules for the workplace

Ontario has strict rules in place to make sure workplaces are safe.

Consuming recreational cannabis in the workplace remains illegal after legalization on October 17, 2018.

Employers (and supervisors):

  • need to know the rules for medical cannabis
  • are required to address workplace hazards, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)

Employees and workers:

  • who are unable or unfit to work safely could be a hazard to themselves or to others in the workplace
  • have a duty to perform work safely and to report any hazards to their supervisor or employer under the OHSA

See additional rules related to cannabis use in the workplace, including for commercial drivingwhere you can use recreational cannabis and using medical cannabis in the workplace.

Medical cannabis icon Medical cannabis

Medical cannabis is subject to different rules than recreational cannabis. The production and sale of medical cannabis is regulated exclusively by the federal government.

If a health care professional has already authorized you to use cannabis for medical reasons, your access has not changed now that recreational cannabis is legal.

The only way to purchase medical cannabis is from:

  • federally licensed producer online
  • by written order
  • over the phone and delivered by secure mail

You can also receive a licence from Health Canada to grow medical cannabis on your own, or designate someone else to grow it on your behalf.

Learn more about accessing cannabis for medical purposes.

What you said

Ontario consulted extensively to inform the approach to the legalization of cannabis, including with:

  • other jurisdictions that already legalized cannabis
  • public health experts
  • law enforcement
  • municipalities
  • business and consumer groups

In addition, Ontarians could share their views on legalization in a survey.

Some key results from the survey that informed the plan included:

  • 86% of people said they support a minimum age of 19
  • 74% believe there should be restrictions on where cannabis can be consumed
  • 61% of respondents agreed that drug-impaired driving penalties should be stricter
  • 69% believe that keeping cannabis out of the hands of youth is important

Resources

For parents

For youth and young people

For educators

For health professionals

For the workplace

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