It’s October 17th, and today across Canada, cannabis consumers are lighting up in celebration of the Cannabis Act and a hard-fought-for end to 95 years of harsh prohibition. It’s a symbolic victory, and vindication – cannabis consumption is finally being normalized, and a century of sneaking out to the parking lot is drawing to a close. But for many, including activists and long-time cannabis advocates, it’s bittersweet.
*photo by Yash Lucid
Legalization comes with a brand new set of crimes (and punishments), that will no doubt continue to criminalize an already marginalized population across the country, while white-collar cronies make millions in the blazing hot pot market. Some might say a lot of these new rules seem to ignore recent science, and it’s debatable whether they hold up to our constitution. So yay, its legal now, you can buy it online and smoke it at your leisure (depending on your provincial regulations), and you can smoke it in your apartment (if management allows it), or smoke it in your condo (subject to your condo bylaws), but don’t expect the fear mongering to chill out, compared to how we treat Mary Jane’s (arguably) more sinister cousins, alcohol, Tobacco, and the sweetest sin of all, sugar.
So where does that leave us now?
Well for starters, be extra careful driving from now on. Under the new laws, the police can request a roadside saliva (or even blood) test at any stop, at their own discretion, without reasonable suspicion. Many legal experts believe this violates our charter of rights and freedoms for protection against unreasonable search and seizure, so it will be interesting to see how things play out. But if found to be above the 2 nanogram limit for THC, you could face penalties like a $1000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.
For those who don’t know
THC is fat-soluble, and will stay in your system long after it’s been consumed. And unlike alcohol, your blood levels do not correlate to your impairment level, (which is widely known and proven). In other words, you could hypothetically get pulled-over and test above the limit for a joint you smoked days ago, and suffer consequences as harsh as a drunk driver.
And with other penalties, like up to 14 years jail time for giving cannabis to a minor, the implications are frankly scary for pot appreciating parents. So be sure to keep your stash locked away from your teens, and be safe on those roads. Really, just don’t drive high.
The Good News
So how do we reconcile this joyous melancholy? How can so-called legalization be so punitive? Well for one thing, in some provinces, you can grow your own cannabis now, which is always a great option if you’re anxious about giving that $1/gram shake-down tax to the man. Not to mention, household plants are therapeutic, and it ain’t hard – they call it weed for a reason. As well, Canadians who have been convicted of cannabis related crimes prior to legalization are now on the path to having their crimes pardoned, something that’s been top of mind for us since talk of legalization began. So, little by little, times are a changin’ in Canada when it comes to Cannabis.
It may not be a perfect system, and you can bet it will take time to smooth out the kinks, but hey, it’s still progress we can all meditate on.
If you’re wondering where you can now obtain your newly legal Cannabis, click here if you’re in Alberta, here if you’re in Ontario, here if you’re in Nova Scotia, and here if you’re in the Yukon. And as with any mind altering substance, do your research and please consume responsibly.