All articles

Legalization of Marijuana in Canada: What to Know

This guide to the Cannabis Act in Canada and the new pot laws contains everything you need to know about the legalization of marijuana—whether you are visiting, here to stay, or planning to cross a Canadian border.

When Did Canada Legalize Weed?

Marijuana officially became legal in Canada on October 17, 2018. The legislation makes recreational use of cannabis is legal from coast to coast! The Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) was approved in June to establish rules about the production, distribution, and consumption of marijuana throughout Canada. This guide contains everything we currently know about the legalization of marijuana in Canada.


1. Each Canadian province and territory regulates cannabis differently

While the Government of Canada has decided the legal minimum age, where you can purchase and use cannabis, and how much you can possess, it still varies in each province and territory.

Like alcohol laws, each province and territory have the ability to set its own rules regarding the legalization of marijuana. On top of that, municipalities are able to pass bylaws to regulate cannabis locally. More information about each province and territory is provided toward the end of this article.

These cannabis laws and bylaws must be respected, whether you live in the area or you are just visiting.

2. Know the limits for cannabis possession

While possession of marijuana is legal, there are still limits that need to be respected with the Canadian cannabis law.

In Canada, you can possess up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis or the equivalent amount of another product. The government has also established what they mean by “equivalent” products, which includes five grams of fresh cannabis, 50 grams of liquid product, and other forms of the plant and plant seed. Penalties for not following the new laws can result in up to 14 years in jail.

3. Don’t expect major cannabis ads across the country

In recent years, Canada has significantly changed its tobacco advertisement laws to discourage people from purchasing cigarettes. The legalization of marijuana will not be an exception to these rules. So do not expect fancy packaging or massive posters, or really any promotion of cannabis. In other words, expect plain packages with limited branding and a few health warnings.

The Government of Canada has plans to provide public education and awareness activities about cannabis usage. It’s unclear how the legalization of marijuana will be advertised to tourists. However, these new laws do extend to tourists, which is making Canada a niche destination for weed tourism.

cannabis leaves
Legalization of Marijuana in Canada: What to Know | Skyscanner Canada

4. You can’t cross the Canadian border with marijuana

No one can take cannabis across a Canadian border, whether entering or leaving. This includes any amount of cannabis, even for medical purposes. It also holds even if you are travelling between two areas that have legalized or decriminalized cannabis.

The Government of Canada warns that cannabis is still illegal in most countries. This means there is still a possibility you will be denied entry into a country because you are involved in the cannabis industry. Also, foreign officials could refuse entry if you have used marijuana in the recent past (even if it is legal where you used it).

At the moment, this also includes possible denial to the United States. United States Border Patrol will ask travellers about cannabis consumption and possession. If your activities are found to be in violation of U.S. laws, officials may deny entry and could even revoke NEXUS cards.

5. Where can you buy weed?

Now that you understand the rules regarding the legalization of marijuana, it’s time to find out where you can purchase weed!

In Ontario, Quebec, and most of Atlantic Canada, cannabis stores are run by the provincial governments— just like liquor stores. In the rest of Canada, the private sector is in charge. It’s also available through online cannabis stores.

Tourists are able to purchase weed just like they can purchase cigarettes and alcohol. Proper identification is required to ensure everyone is of legal age.

6. Where are you allowed to smoke marijuana?

Each province has different rules for where you can smoke marijuana. Often, they are similar to tobacco consumption laws. But there are additions in certain provinces such as the inability to smoke in your car. In some cases—like in Quebec, you can not smoke marijuana on a university campus.

Refer to federal and provincial websites to gain clarity on the restrictions for each province and territory. Note that cities can pass specific bylaws, so keep a lookout for updates to the restrictions. As the legalization of marijuana is still in its early stages, there will likely be changes. 

Before partaking in weed consumption, whether you are a local or a visitor, be sure to look up specific rules for each city.

view of CN tower in Toronto
Legalization of Marijuana in Canada: What to Know | Skyscanner Canada

Cannabis Policies by Provinces and Territories:

Cannabis in British Columbia:

  • Age of consumption: 19+
  • Retail availability: Online through government retailers and in-store from public and private (government-approved) retailers. 
  • Public consumption: Restricted in areas frequented by kids and in other public places where smoking is prohibited. 

Cannabis in Alberta:

  • Age of consumption: 18+
  • Retail availability: Online through government retailers and in-store from private operators. 
  • Public consumption: Restricted in areas frequented by kids and in other public places where smoking is prohibited.

Cannabis in Saskatchewan:

  • Age of consumption: 19+
  • Retail availability: Online and in-store through private operators regulated by the liquor commission.
  • Public consumption: Must be in a private residence.

Cannabis in Manitoba:

  • Age of consumption: 19+
  • Retail availability: Online through private retailers and in-store from the liquor commission. 
  • Public consumption: Most public places are prohibited.

Cannabis in Ontario:

  • Age of consumption: 19+
  • Retail availability: Online through private retailers. In-store will be unavailable until 2019. 
  • Public consumption: Allowed wherever tobacco is allowed.

Cannabis in Quebec:

  • Age of consumption: 18+
  • Retail availability: Online through government retailers and in-store from the liquor board.
  • Public consumption: Limited restrictions including enclosed spaces, bus shelters, and areas frequented by minors. 
suitcase and airplane flying above
Legalization of Marijuana in Canada: What to Know | Skyscanner Canada

Cannabis in New Brunswick:

  • Age of consumption: 19+
  • Retail availability: Online and in-store through government-run establishments.
  • Public consumption: Must be in a private residence.

Cannabis in Nova Scotia:

  • Age of consumption: 19+
  • Retail availability: Online and in-store through the liquor commission. 
  • Public consumption: Restricted in areas frequented by kids and in other public places where smoking is prohibited. Follows the “Smoke-free Places Act.”

Cannabis in P.E.I.:

  • Age of consumption: 19+
  • Retail availability: Online through government-run outlets and in-store run by the liquor commission. 
  • Public consumption: Must be in a private residence. 

Cannabis in Newfoundland and Labrador:

  • Age of consumption: 19+
  • Retail availability: Online through government-operated retailers and in-store from private retailers (with government regulation). 
  • Public consumption: Must be in a private residence. 

Cannabis in Yukon:

  • Age of consumption: 19+
  • Retail availability: Online through private retailers. In-store currently limited to one store in Whitehorse, with private retailers in six months after legalization.
  • Public consumption: Must be in a private residence with the owner’s consent. 

Cannabis in Northwest Territories:

  • Age of consumption: 19+
  • Retail availability: Online through government-run site and in-store through existing liquor commission stores. 
  • Public consumption: Permitted wherever smoking is allowed.
  • Note: Communities are able to vote on whether to restrict or ban sales. 

Cannabis in Nunavut:

  • Age of consumption: 19+
  • Retail availability: Online (or by phone) through private retailers acting on behalf of the government. No physical store yet.
  • Public consumption: Restricted in areas frequented by kids and in other public places where smoking is prohibited.

Disclaimer: Information correct as of July 30, 2019, obtained from www.canada.ca and ca.usembassy.gov. Be sure to check the latest regulations before purchasing, consuming, or travelling with cannabis.