Pubdate: Mon, 05 Feb 2018
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jacquie Miller
Pages: A2-3


Quilt of marijuana laws emerging across Canada as provinces refine the

Ottawa lawyer Trina Fraser says someone should invent an app called
"Am I Breaking the Law?" to help Canadians navigate the confusion when
recreational marijuana becomes legal.

Pot smokers could type in their age, location, the amount and type of
marijuana they possess, where they bought it and where they plan to
consume it, then press a button to find out if they are in danger of
being collared by police.

She's not joking.

The federal government plans to legalize recreational marijuana across
the country in July. But the provinces are in charge of key details,
such as where people can buy pot, where they will be allowed to
consume it and whether they will be able to grow a few plants at home.

As the provinces announce their plans, a patchwork of rules is
emerging that could lead to some interesting situations, especially in
cities like Ottawa that hug provincial borders.

Varying provincial rules might create cross-border shopping, predicts
Fraser. But that is not clear because the rules are still being
formulated and municipalities may also jump in with

In Ontario and Quebec, residents have lived for decades with variances
in liquor laws. In Ottawa, some 18-year-olds cross the bridge over the
Ottawa River to Gatineau to drink in a province where that's the legal

Some predict it will be the same for marijuana. Ontario has set the
legal age of purchase at 19 while Quebec has chosen 18, both matching
their legal drinking ages.

There are added twists with marijuana, however, because the two
provinces have proposed different rules for where people can consume

You won't be able to order marijuana in bars or restaurants in either
province. But Quebec's proposed legislation would allow people to
smoke pot in most places where cigarettes are allowed, with a few
extra restrictions, such as a prohibition on smoking pot on the
campuses of post-secondary institutions. The law would appear to allow
people to smoke cannabis on the street and at events such as outdoor
festivals, said Elaine Leger, an associate with Fasken Martineau
DuMoulin in Montreal.

In Ontario, the cannabis bill passed in December bans consumption in
public places.

So, in theory, Ottawans could head to Gatineau, buy pot at the
government-run store and walk back home smoking it. They would just
have to stop halfway across the interprovincial bridge and toss their
joint into the Ottawa River before stepping onto the Ontario side,
where smoking pot while strolling down the sidewalk would be banned.

The varying laws might even influence where people choose to rent
apartments, says Fraser. In Ontario, residents of no-smoking
apartments or condos might be left with no place to smoke pot. On the
other hand, Ontario residents would be able to grow their own cannabis
at home, a practice that would be banned in Quebec.

Can we expect pot-smoking refugees from Ottawa to head to Gatineau
looking for a place to light up or rent an apartment? Will some people
choose to avoid Quebec and live on the Ontario side of the river so
they can grow their own pot? Maybe. To add to the complexity, the
rules are being tweaked as both provinces scramble to get ready for

Ontario's rules may eventually be relaxed. The province has asked the
public to weigh in on whether to allow cannabis lounges and designated
consumption spaces outside multi-unit dwellings like apartments and

In Quebec, things might become more restrictive. The province has
suggested it will allow municipalities to slap their own rules on
where cannabis can be consumed. Politicians in several smaller
municipalities have said they favour a ban on pot smoking in public
places like parks.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante has said she wants the power to ban
cannabis consumption at particular events, reports the Montreal Gazette.

Plante gave the example of the Fete des Neiges festival in Parc

"For four days, there are families, there are kids - we want to be
able to say, 'OK, for this period of time in that area, there's no
smoking whatsoever,' " she told the Gazette.

Does Gatineau want to impose its own restrictions?

Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin declined to comment. His spokesperson says
he's waiting for advice from the city's health committee, which will
study the issue sometime in the next few months.

Across Canada, varying provincial rules may prompt cross-border
cannabis tourism, especially in Quebec and Alberta, which have set the
legal age to purchase at 18, says Fraser. Other provinces that have
announced plans have chosen 19 as the minimum age to buy cannabis.

"The consequences that I foresee, particularly with the age
differences in Alberta and Quebec, you may have a little bit of
crossborder shopping by 18-year-olds," Fraser says. "And you may have
some cannabis tourism from less permissive to more permissive
provinces, depending on the details of how things work."

The provinces need to have education campaigns to make sure people
understand the rules, she says.

"The main issue I see is confusion," Fraser says.

"There is all sorts of information out there and it's really going to
be a matter of someone saying, 'OK, this is what I am proposing to do.
Wait, am I allowed to do that?' It's going to be a matter of how easy
it will be for the public to get good information about the rules that
are relevant to them because it is such a patchwork quilt.

"There is literally no two provinces that are taking exactly the same
approach. There are subtle differences with every single one and major
differences with some."

- -----------------------------------------------

Across the country

Provinces that plan to set the legal age to buy cannabis at

Quebec and Alberta

Provinces that plan to set the legal age to buy cannabis at

B.C., Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick,
Nova Scotia, P.E.I., Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut

Provinces that plan to allow home growing for recreational

Ontario, Nova Scotia, Yukon and the Northwest Territories have said
they don't plan to add further restrictions to the federal law, which
allows people to grow up to four plants per residence. Saskatchewan
proposed a bill that would allow landlords to set "reasonable rules"
on cultivation. New Brunswick says plants must be grown in a separate,
locked space indoors, or outdoors in a locked enclosure. Nunavut is
considering allowing landlords and condos to restrict home growing.

Provinces that plan to ban home growing for recreational

Quebec, Manitoba

- -----------------------------------------------

Ontario pot rule basics

Q. What is the minimum age for buying cannabis?

A: 19.

Q. Where will you be able to buy cannabis?

A: The Ontario Cannabis Retail Corp., a subsidiary of the LCBO, will
operate stand-alone stores, starting with 40 outlets in July and
expanding to 150 stores by 2020. The stores will be small - about the
size of the LCBO at St. Laurent shopping centre - and will sell only
cannabis and accessories, from behind the counter. Prices will be the
same across the province. Permissible hours of operation will be the
same as liquor stores: Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.;
Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Cannabis Corp. will also offer
online sales with ID checks, signatures on delivery, and no packages
left at the door.

Q. What will you be able to buy?

A: The federal legislation initially allows for the sale of fresh or
dried weed, cannabis oil, plants and seeds. Within a year of the
legislation taking effect, edible products and concentrates will be
approved for sale, too, although it's not known yet exactly what
products will be allowed.

Q. How much cannabis can you possess?

A: People over 19 can possess 30 grams of dried cannabis or equivalent
in public. They can also travel to Ontario from another province with
up to 30 grams of cannabis they've obtained legally there.

Q. Where can you consume cannabis?

A: That hasn't been fully decided. The cannabis act passed in December
bans consumption in public places and workplaces, basically
restricting people to lighting up at home. However, regulations
proposed by the province would loosen the rules to allow people to
consume non-smoked or vaped cannabis in hotel rooms, to smoke or vape
pot in designated smoking rooms, to consume cannabis on boats and
recreational vehicles that are parked and in use as private
residences, and to consume cannabis in private homes that are also
workplaces. The province has also asked the public to comment on the
idea of creating cannabis consumption lounges and designated
consumption areas outdoors at multi-unit dwellings such as apartments
and condos.

Q. Can you grow your own?

A: Yes, up to four plants per residence grown for recreational
purposes. (Medical marijuana patients can already grow their own;
plant limits vary.)
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt