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Canada Marijuana Laws & Policy

Cannabis is currently illegal in Canada, but the country’s government has plans in place to legalize recreational use of the plant by July 2018. Medical use of cannabis is already legal with a valid recommendation from a health care practitioner.

Current Legislation

As of now, under Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, passed in 1996, cannabis is classified as a Schedule II drug. Therefore, the use, possession, cultivation, transporting and selling of cannabis is currently illegal.

Possession, when tried as an indictable offense, is penalized with a maximum of 5 years imprisonment. When tried as a summary conviction, the maximum penalty includes a fine not to exceed 1,000 dollars or imprisonment up to 6 months, or both.

The selling of cannabis or the possession of cannabis for the purpose of selling, when tried as an indictable offense, is liable to imprisonment not exceeding 10 years. A summary conviction for selling is liable to a maximum of 18 months of imprisonment. Possession of cannabis with the intent of exporting it from Canada is liable to imprisonment for life, or a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year.

Cultivation of cannabis is liable to 6 months to 3 years, depending on the number of plants produced.

Canada’s Liberal federal government promised in 2015 it would work to legalize recreational marijuana and announced in March 2016 that it would introduce legislation to legalize marijuana by July 2018.

Industrial hemp cultivation is legal as long as the farmer has acquired a license and a permit for exportation. Purchasing, using and consuming hemp oil is also legal.

Medical Marijuana Laws

As of August 24, 2016, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) replaced the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR). The new rules eliminated the requirement that patients acquire cannabis for licensed producers and authorized users to cultivate a “limited amount” of cannabis for their own supply.

Under the rule, adults 18 years or older with a prescription from a licensed producer, health care practitioner or hospital can legally to possess and use cannabis. The maximum amount that can be possessed by medical marijuana participants is 30 times the daily amount indicated by their healthcare practitioner, to a maximum of 150 grams. The “limited amount” of cannabis a patient can grow depends on the amount of cannabis a patient is prescribed. According to the rule, “In general, every one (1) gram of dried marijuana authorized will result in the production of five (5) plants indoors or two (2) plants outdoors.”


Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. (2015, October 15). Justice Laws Website. Retrieved from http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/c-38.8/.

Industrial Hemp Regulations (SOR/98-156). (2015, October 15). Justice Laws Website. Retrieved from http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-98-156/index.html.

Marihana for Medical Purposes Regulations. (2015, June 5). Justice Laws Website. Retrieved from http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2013-119/page-1.html.

Understanding the New Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. (2016, August). Health Canada. http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/publications/drugs-products-medicaments-produits/understanding-regulations-medical-cannabis-medicales-comprehension-reglements/index-eng.php.

  • November 3, 2015
  • Eve Ripley