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Before Heading To Canada To Buy Weed, Read This

Come October 17, cannabis will be legal in the Great White North. Be sure you understand the rules.
Before Heading To Canada To Buy Weed, Read This
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This fall, United States citizens will have the option to travel to Canada for a 'Weedcation' to buy legal recreational marijuana (provided they're 19 years old and have a passport).

But before you head north you should do some homework. Sure cannabis will be legal across Canada starting on October 17, but there will be different rules in different provinces, and possibly even different rules in cities within the same province.

Before providing you with a cheat sheet, here’s a little background.

Opposite law as the U.S.

Unlike how this issue has played out in the United States, where the federal government continues to list marijuana as an illegal drug, even though more than half the states have legalized medical marijuana, six of which have legalized the adult-use of recreational marijuana (Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington). In Canada, the federal government has made cannabis legal nationwide. Now, each province within the country can devise their own rules on how they will govern local marijuana sales.

Related: How Canada's Marijuana Legalization Changes the Game

Ontario's example

Ontario provides a good roadmap for the new Canadian system. Given that the province is home to Toronto, the nation’s largest city, and it's just a short drive from Buffalo and Detroit, many US citizens will probably buy their cannabis there. 

The province has set up an organization called Ontario Cannabis Store (OCR) to put the rules in place for cannabis sales in Ontario. The OCS has already released the first four locations for dispensaries -  Toronto, Thunder Bay, Kingston, and Guelph.

The agency’s goal is to “make every sale a responsible one,” which is why you’ll want to read on to find out the current rules.

Related: America's History with Cannabis? It's Complicated.

Rules for buying weed in Canada

Most provinces, including Ontario, have set the legal age to buy marijuana at 19. Many of the rules are still being hashed out. However, expect the following:

  • No public consumption of marijuana anywhere in Canada.
  • That includes your car, truck, or boat
  • Many hotels may also ban the use of marijuana on their property.
  • Edible products will likely not be for sale because regulations on edibles are still being worked out.

Probably the biggest issue US residents need to be aware of is that under no circumstances should they try to bring any cannabis purchased in Canada back into the U.S.

In an interview with the Port Huron Times Herald, a spokesperson for the US Customs and Border Patrol laid out the penalties a US resident will face trying to bring marijuana back across the border. They include fines, jail time and, of course, seizure of all cannabis. Border agents, the spokesperson said, are “highly trained to detect the illegal importation of narcotics. CBP’s mission to prevent this illegal importation will remain unchanged."


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By Javier Hasse
From retailers to growers, producers, and suppliers, there’s a seemingly never-ending list of startup opportunities in this emerging market. In Start Your Own Cannabis Business, marijuana, biotech, and entrepreneurship reporter Javier Hasse introduces forward-thinking entrepreneurs like you to the industry and shares hard-earned tips and success stories from pioneers and visionaries in the marijuana industry.
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