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Cannabis users still risk legal troubles on '420' in Canada

People contribute cannabis for a communal joint on the day Canada legalizes recreational marijuana, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, October 17, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

This year will mark the first time April 20th, the unofficial cannabis “holiday,” will be celebrated legally in Canada. Since October of last year, Canada has been settling into its role as the second country in the world to fully legalize the drug, after Uruguay. Yet despite the relatively new status of cannabis in Canada, there are still strict regulations surrounding it that may not be obvious. Yahoo Canada spoke to Toronto-based cannabis lawyer Jack Lloyd about some of the less apparent rules surrounding the country’s newest legal substance.

Growing or sharing too much

Every household is allowed to grow four plants, aside from Quebec and Manitoba, where home growing is illegal. But Lloyd warns that the definition of plant is pretty broad. Baby plants or clones, which are starter plants that haven’t yet flowered, for example, would still be considered a plant.

“If you’re growing four cannabis plants, that includes little baby plants,” says Lloyd. “If you have five baby plants and four flowering plants, you could get yourself into some trouble.”

If police determine there’s enough evidence to prove a home grow is being run for production purposes, jail time could be on the table.

There are similar rules around how much cannabis you’re allowed to share. The maximum legal amount to share with another adult is 30 grams. Anything more is illegal.

If you’re growing in British Columbia, you’d better be doing it discreetly. If your plants grow too tall or are inadvertently visible, you can be charged. The rule is in place as a way to deter minors from the plant.

“In general, most places have similar legislation where the guiding principal is that you can’t be displaying cannabis products to minors,” says Lloyd. “That’s the main concern.”

Flying with it

Canadians can travel within the country with up to 30 grams of cannabis in a smell-proof container. If you’re caught with more than the maximum amount, you can get in trouble. Travelling anywhere else in the world, even to regions where cannabis is legal, is strictly forbidden.

Things get a little more complex when it comes to travelling with medicinal marijuana. Medicinal users are allowed a maximum of 150 grams a month, which makes the person exempt from the travel limit within Canada. And on top of that limit, a medicinal user is also allowed to carry a maximum of 30 grams of recreational cannabis.

A chart on the Department of Justice’s website breaks down the possession limits for different cannabis product. One (1) gram of dried cannabis is equal to:

  • 5 grams of fresh cannabis

  • 15 grams of edible product

  • 70 grams of liquid product

  • 0.25 grams of concentrates (solid or liquid)

  • 1 cannabis plant seed

Where you can consume

In general, Lloyd says the rule of thumb on where cannabis can be consumed is anywhere where cigarettes are legally allowed to be consumed. For recreational users, there’s a host of potential issues that arise if a strata or condo board prohibits the use. Lloyd says the only people who can argue against those rules are medical marijuana users.

Driving with it

When it comes to driving with cannabis product, Lloyd strongly keeping it stored as far away from your person as possible.

“Make sure there is no cannabis that anyone can smell in the front or back seats of the vehicle, he says. “Put it in the trunk and seal it.”

If police find a driver with unsealed cannabis near them, they then have the power to search the car.

“Police can use, essentially, a blanket warrant to search anything and everything,” says Lloyd. “(Having unsealed cannabis in the car) exposes you to a charge simply by having it there and then exposes you to other charges, if they search your vehicle. You can make an argument that it’s unopened, sealed and in the backseat then you’re not bound by legislation, but as a lawyer my biggest piece of advice is to put it in your trunk.”