If you’re planning a trip to Canada in the near future as a cannabis tourist, you’re far from alone. Having become only the second nation worldwide to almost completely legalise recreational cannabis in all its forms, Canada has propelled itself to the forefront of the marijuana tourism map. The whole cannabis scene in Canada is still at something of an embryonic stage, but is nonetheless well on its way to becoming the yardstick all other cannabis markets are measured by.
However, it’s important to note that while Canada’s Federal cannabis laws and regulations have been finalized and introduced, there are big differences from one province to the next. Just as is the case in the United States, each Canadian province has the freedom to bring about its own semi-unique take on cannabis legislation.
Not to such an extent as to prohibit its sale and consumption entirely, but public consumption policies vary across Canada.
Cannabis consumption policy in Canada is particularly dynamic at a provincial level, where local legislators and lawmakers are still considering their options. Hence, it’s a good idea to ensure you know exactly where you stand in a legal sense, before blazing up in a public place in Canada.
Be sure to check out the latest information on Federal Canadian cannabis laws before travelling, though the following public cannabis use rules and regulations are correct as of November 2019:
Across the province of Alberta, the public consumption of cannabis follows the same rules and regulations as the consumption of tobacco. Residents and visitors to Alberta are legally permitted to consume cannabis in their own homes and in private residences where smoking is permitted. The consumption of tobacco in public places is prohibited state-wide - it is also illegal to smoke cannabis in any kind of motor vehicle, irrespective of whether it is stationary or in motion.
Cannabis in Alberta cannot be consumed near any playground or sports field, on the premises of a school property, childcare facility or hospital property, in proximity to a zoo or outdoor public pool, or in any public park. Heavy fines are payable on the spot for those found to be breaking the law.
In the province of British Columbia, public cannabis consumption legislation follows the same basic rules as smoking tobacco. Quite simply, if it is not permitted to smoke tobacco in any given place, it is also against the law to consume cannabis. With the added inclusion of public parks, anywhere in close proximity to a school/childcare facility and so on.
Legal consumption of cannabis is restricted exclusively to private residences, though recently introduced regulations permit hotel proprietors and accommodation providers to permit cannabis use in designated rooms. Again, it is illegal to smoke cannabis in any kind of motor vehicle, irrespective of whether or not it is in motion.
Legislators in Ontario initially outlined plans to restrict the consumption of cannabis to private residences. However, the decision was subsequently reversed and replaced with a policy that treats public cannabis consumption almost identically to tobacco use. This means that cannabis can be legally consumed in outdoor public spaces across Ontario and even in motor vehicles.
As smoking in general is prohibited in enclosed public places across the province, so too is the consumption of cannabis.
Stay tuned for the second instalment of our two-part post on province-specific public cannabis consumption laws in Canada.