What to Expect with Canadian Weed: Is it Legal and How Much Does It Cost?
Published on 3/26/22
Are you planning a road trip to Canada in 2022 and looking forward to enjoying some cannabis while you're up there? There's a lot to prepare for when traveling to a different country, and knowing their cannabis laws and availability should be up there on your list if you're hoping to partake. So let's get you caught up on what you need to know about Canadian weed, where it's available, how much it costs, and more.
Cannabis in Canada
Canada banned the use of cannabis long before the United States. In 1923, cannabis was added to Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King's Act to Prohibit the Improper Use of Opium and Other Drugs. Decriminalization and efforts to undo this and similar pro-cannabis movements became increasingly popular in the 1960s and 70s, but it wasn't until 2000 that the Ontario Court of Appeal claimed cannabis prohibition to be unconstitutional. Health Canada (the Canadian Department of Health) passed legislation regulating medical cannabis for licensed patients in 2001. The question was then quickly asked, "When will Canada legalize recreational marijuana?" While it took nearly two decades, Canada legalization finally happened.
On October 17, 2018, Canada became one of the first nations in the world to federally legalize cannabis with the Cannabis Act. The Canada legalization 2018 act created a strongly regulated framework for the sale, possession, production, and distribution across all Canadian provinces and territories. The official purposes behind the Act are to protect Canadian youth from accessing cannabis and to displace the cannabis black market. Under the Cannabis Act, adults who are 18 (or 19 depending on the province or territory) or older can legally:
- Possess up to 30 grams of cannabis
- Share up to 30 grams of cannabis with other adults
- Grow up to four cannabis plants per residence for personal use (this changes depending on the territory or province and the seeds must be acquired legally)
It wasn't until October 17, 2019, that the Cannabis Act was altered to include the production, sale, possession, and distribution of cannabis extracts and topicals. It should also be noted that each province and territory has its own laws for age limits, where adults can buy and use cannabis, and possession limits. While most laws follow the limits outlined above, it's a good idea to check the regulations specific to any provinces and territories you live in or plan to visit. It's also important to note that, like anything else, average Canadian dispensary prices vary by province. Most provinces are estimated to have an average cost per gram between $6 and $15 Canadian dollars (which is about $5 to $12 United States dollars). Some provinces, like Saskatchewan, are a bit more expensive than average and can go upward of $20 Canadian dollars per gram.
Canadian Weed vs. United States Weed
There are a lot of differences between cannabis in Canada and the United States, which shouldn't be surprising since cannabis is legal in Canada and still federally illegal in the United States. But what other differences are there? Is Canadian weed the same as weed in America? Do dispensaries operate the same? How different are the laws? Here's a rundown of some of the major similarities and differences between cannabis in the United States and Canada.
The majority of Canada allows an adult 19 or older to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis at a given time, but some provinces like Alberta and Quebec allow 18 year olds. This is fairly similar to most states in the U.S. with legal recreational weed, where 1 ounce (28.3 grams) is the standard possession limit for adults 21 or older. To purchase cannabis legally in both the United States and Canada, you must go to a state-licensed dispensary. However, each Canadian province has its own laws on whether dispensaries must be state or privately owned and operated. Dispensaries in both countries operate using similar safety guidelines, so you can expect to easily find your way around a Canadian dispensary if you're used to U.S. dispensaries. What you find inside the dispensaries, however, will likely vary. Just like the dispensary chains themselves, Canada has its own producers and distributors, the most prolific being Aphria Inc., Canopy Growth Corp., and Aurora Cannabis Inc. Since strains can be produced by different cultivators, you will likely find a lot of the same strains in Canada as you do in the United States. However, certain strains are either Canadian exclusives or more popular in Canada, such as Afghani Bullrider, Nice Cream, and Platinum Punch.
Additionally, like the United States, Canada Health requires that a THC warning symbol be placed on the packaging of cannabis products that contain more than 0.3% THC. Because of this, a lot of the packaging you see between Canada and United States cannabis products will also likely be similar. The biggest difference is related to the Canadian weed laws that specifically ban any packaging that could be appealing to youth, which follows a wide range of fairly ambiguous rules.
Canadian Dispensaries You Should Check Out
While there are many medical and recreational dispensaries in Canada - and yes, Canada is a big country - here are three of our favorite Canadian dispensaries that you should try when you find yourself up north.
Choom Cannabis Co. (Cold Lake, Alberta)
This Hawaiian-inspired dispensary began with a few friends and a small van back in the 70s. Today, it's an incredibly well-stocked, well-renowned chain of dispensaries. Some of our favorite picks from this location include their Simply Bare - B.C. Organic SFV OG flower, their Ace Valley - Great White Shark Pre Rolls, and their Summit - Lemonade Iced Tea.
Canadian Cannabis Connoisseur Club (Calgary, Alberta)
This local, high-end dispensary is a can't miss if you're visiting beautiful Calgary. It's privately owned and offers over 120 different cannabis products and a collection of Canadian glass and accessories. Some of our top picks include Go Play Mandarin Cookies flower, their Fireside Dark Chocolate Salted Caramels, and their Half Time Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. From candy to high-end flower, you can't go wrong at this place.
Canna Cabana (Sudbury, Ontario)
With a long list of successful dispensaries across Canada and a killer "Cabana Club" for anyone who plans on becoming a local, Canna Cabana is an excellent choice for stocking up. Some of our favorite picks include their Tweed Houndstooth Soda, their B.C. God Bud flower by Verse Originals, and their Tweed Penelope CBD Skunk Haze Softgels.
Are you familiar with the Canada marijuana scene? Let us know your favorite dispensaries, strains and other cannabis products, and what you do or do not like about cannabis in Canada. Comment below!