Call it what you want: cannabis, marijuana, pot, weed, dope. On October 17, 2018 the federal Cannabis Act came into force legalizing cannabis across the country. While the federal government has legalized marijuana, the regulation of it has fallen to each individual province. After some last second changes, the Ontario Cannabis Act also came into force on the 17th as well. Here are some important features of it and how they may affect you:
Sale and Distribution
Only the Ontario cannabis retailer can sell cannabis; it is illegal for anyone else to sell cannabis. Sometime in the future authorized retailers will also be able to sell cannabis. It is also illegal to distribute cannabis that was not sold by the Ontario cannabis retailer (or authorized retailer) and it is illegal to distribute cannabis to anyone under the age of 19.
What does distribute mean? The Cannabis Act defines “distribute” as: administering, giving, transferring, transporting, sending, delivering, providing or otherwise making available in any manner, whether directly or indirectly, and offering to distribute or having in possession for distribution.
So if you are over 19 and have friends or children under the age of 19, you may be committing the offence of distributing to a person under 19 by having legally bought pot readily available in your home. Even though it is legal for someone under 19 to smoke pot, it is an offence to distribute pot to someone under the age of 19. Something to be careful about.
The Ontario Cannabis Act also makes it illegal to sell or distribute marijuana to someone who is or appears to be intoxicated. It makes sense to not sell marijuana to an intoxicated person just as the LCBO or a bar would not serve alcohol to an intoxicated person. However distribution is where it gets tricky again.
You may want to bring some weed that you legally bought to a party. At this party there will be drinking. If you invite anyone outside that has had a couple drinks to share a joint, you are most likely guilty of distributing marijuana to an intoxicated person. While you can smoke as much weed as you want when intoxicated, you would be committing an offence by sharing or distributing to another intoxicated person.
It is illegal to drive your vehicle or boat with marijuana in it unless it is securely fastened and not readily available to any person in the vehicle or boat. So according to the law you would be guilty of an offence if your passenger had legally-bought marijuana in their pocket while you were driving.
The Cannabis Act also gives the police the power to search your vehicle or boat and anyone found in it if the officer feels he or she has reasonable grounds that marijuana is being illegally transported. This is important to keep in mind in case there is anything else in the vehicle that you don’t want the police to find out about.
Anyone who commits an offence under the Ontario Cannabis Act is liable to a maximum fine of $100,000 or a maximum jail term of one year. For illegally selling cannabis or distributing illegally sold cannabis, the maximum fine is $250,000 and the maximum jail sentence is two less less a day. For distributing to a person under 19, the maximum fine is $200,000 and the maximum jail sentence is one year.
Although cannabis is legal, it is now highly regulated with large penalties for breaking the law. If you have been charged with an offence under the Ontario Cannabis Act give Drexler Law a call at (519) 804-1799 or inquire by email for a free 30 minute consultation.