The answer to the above question is really dependent on how someone obtains their cannabis and what one then does with their legal cannabis.

Bill C-45 has now become law and in a previous post we spoke about the use of recreational cannabis and its legalization on October 17, 2018, by the federal government. In response, the Ontario Government did enact legislation which put stipulations in place to keep possession of the drug away from children and youth, keep our roads safe and regulate the sale of cannabis.

However, a significant amount of time has now passed and there may still be some confusion over what constitutes criminal or illegal activity where cannabis is concerned. For those who choose to possess and/or enjoy what is now their 'lawful right', they should be aware that there are still potential criminal and/or quasi-criminal consequences.

As we indicated in our earlier post, operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drug or with a certain level of drug within your system is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code.  As we also indicated, under the Ontario Cannabis Control Act, it is an offence to sell cannabis unless you are a licensed retailer.

However, for cannabis retailers as well as the general public in Ontario, there are a number of other cannabis offences with quasi-criminal consequences under the Cannabis Control Act.  These include the following:

  • Section 7(1) of the Cannabis Control Act prohibits any person from knowingly selling or distributing cannabis to a person under 19 years of age.
  • Section 8 of the Act prohibits any person from knowingly selling or distributing cannabis to a person who appears intoxicated.
  • Section 9 (1) prohibits anyone form buying cannabis from anyone or anywhere other than an authorized cannabis retailer. In other words, it is still illegal to buy cannabis if you do not buy it from a retailer authorized and regulated by the Ontario government.
  • Sections 10 (1) and (2) make it illegal for any person under 19 years of age to possess, consume, attempt to purchase, purchase, distribute, cultivate, propagate, harvest or offer to cultivate, propagate or harvest cannabis.
  • Section 12 of the Act prohibits anyone from driving or having care and control of a vehicle or boat while any cannabis is contained in the vehicle or boat. However this section does not apply if the cannabis is packaged and unopened or is otherwise not readily available to any person in the vehicle or boat.

In addition, under s. 12, if the police are reasonably suspicious that cannabis is in your vehicle they can stop and search the vehicle, the driver and its passengers, without a warrant.

There are various potential consequences if an individual (or corporation) is convicted of an offence under the Cannabis Control Act.  Section 23 outlines that an individual convicted of an offence under the Act is liable to a fine of not more than $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year or both.  The fines and potential imprisonment penalties go up if an individual (or corporation) is convicted of the unauthorized sale of cannabis (contrary to section 6) or the sale of cannabis to someone under 19 years of age (section 7).

So you see, the regulation within Ontario's Cannabis Control Act certainly restricts and heavily regulates that which has been recently "legalized".  The view that cannabis drug use is now completely legal is inaccurate when one considers the numerous prohibitions contained within this Ontario legislation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.