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Here's What Weed Legalization Will Look Like In Canada

The Liberal government introduced legislation that will legalize recreational marijuana use by July 2018.

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The Liberal government tabled a bill on Thursday to legalize recreational marijuana by July 2018 — fulfilling one of Justin Trudeau's key election promises. Here are the details.

1. Pot will be legal for all adults over 18... sort of.

Denis Balibouse / Reuters

The minimum age in the bill is set at 18. However, just as with alcohol, individual provinces and territories will have the ability to set a higher legal age if they want.

The Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Psychiatric Association have both recommended a higher legal age of 21, arguing that regular cannabis use can harm brain development at lower ages.


2. It will be legal for people to have up to 30 grams of dried marijuana on them.

Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters

The bill also allows people to grow their own weed, although there is a strict limit of four plants per residence.

Leaving the country with weed is still going to be illegal, punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

3. Where pot is sold will be up to provinces and territories.

J.p. Moczulski / The Canadian Press

Much like liquor sales, it will be up to each jurisdiction to figure out how to sell the stuff. Some provinces may choose to sell weed only through government-owned businesses, while others may embrace private sellers.

It's unclear at the moment how this will affect the hundreds of illegal dispensaries that have popped up across Canada in anticipation of legalization.

4. Selling to minors will carry a huge penalty.


According to Prime Minister Trudeau, one of the government's main motivations for legalization is to make weed harder to access for young people. Selling weed to minors will carry a penalty of up to 14 years.

The bill also prohibits marketing to youth. Depending on what regulations come later, weed could also be mandated to come in plain packaging only.

5. Impaired driving is still a no-no. / Via Giphy

The government plans to have a reliable system in place before the bill is passed into law to find stoned drivers with roadside saliva tests. If cops suspect impairment, they may also ask for blood samples.

The government also wants to give police more power to do roadside breathalyzer testing for alcohol. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said Thursday that the changes will give Canada some of the strongest impaired driving laws in the world.

6. Growers will be strictly regulated.

Staff / Reuters

There are 41 companies right now that are licensed by the federal government to grow medical marijuana, and the new law will expand that system to also cover recreational marijuana.

Exporting and importing cannabis will be illegal.

7. Canada will be only the second country to legalize marijuana.

Chris Wattie / Reuters

Uruguay become the first country to fully legalize recreational marijuana in 2013. Since then, some US states including Colorado and Washington have legalized the drug. A Canadian task force that studied legalization relied heavily on those examples to figure out its own approach.

8. Uhh, so what about the Americans?

Chris Helgren / Reuters

Many Canadians have been turned away at the border for admitting to pot use, and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Thursday that US authorities may continue to do so even once it's legal in Canada.

“The fact of the matter is that each country establishes its own rules," Goodale said.

He said he is hopeful that, with time, the Americans will come around and see the benefits of the new legal regime.

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at

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