What American Tourists Need to Know About Canadian Marijuana Legalization
Based on the experience of places such as Colorado and Nevada, Canada is about to see a significant increase in the number of tourists.
Legalized marijuana can do that. For example, Colorado had a record 86 million visitors in 2017, pulling in more than $1.2 billion in local and state tax revenue. Also in 2017, cannabis sales hit a record $1.5 billion, according to the Denver Post. Sales increased in border towns, with visitors from New Mexico and Texas driving sales.
Will the same thing happen in Canada? The government has not yet released any estimate on potential “marijuana tourism” revenue. However, it’s logical to expect cannabis tourists. Some will be tourists wanting to buy legal marijuana. Others will be entrepreneurs, curious about investment opportunities and seeing how a nationwide legalized system works - it’s one of only two on the whole planet (Uruguay is the other).
But before visiting Canada, it’s important to know the rules governing adult-use marijuana sales. Here’s a look at some of the issues for Americans traveling north of the border.
Keep in mind that governments at all three levels - federal, provinces and territories, and cities and towns - have the right to set their own rules. Read up thoroughly on local laws before planning a trip.
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Can Americans buy cannabis in Canada?
With Canada making adult-use marijuana legal Oct. 17, travelers from the U.S. and other parts of the world can buy marijuana. However, while Canada legalized marijuana nationwide, the rules and regulations differ in each province or territory, as well as in each city. For example, while the province of Alberta has some of the country’s most liberal laws on marijuana, the city of Calgary has banned public cannabis use, according to Canada-based Global News.
What can you buy in Canada?
Canada is different than the U.S. states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Currently, dried cannabis flower, tinctures, capsules and seeds are available. The notable omission from that list are marijuana edibles, although they may be allowed as soon as 2019. The liquid concentrates used for vaping and other forms such as hash or shatter are not legal to sell.
How old do you have to be?
The original Canada Cannabis Act allowed marijuana sales to those 18 or older, but most provinces and territories have set the age at 19, the legal drinking age in most of Canada. Alberta and Quebec have kept the legal marijuana buying age at 18, according to the New York Times, but Quebec leaders are considering raising it to 21. Keep in mind that everyone in a group must be of legal age. Sharing marijuana with a minor is a crime.
How much can I buy?
The Cannabis Act set a 30-gram limit on how much marijuana a person can buy at once or possess in public.
Where in Canada is best for marijuana tourists?
Toronto-based financial advisory firm Grizzle recommends British Columbia and Alberta for marijuana tourist, as both provinces have liberal marijuana laws. For example, British Columbia allows public consumption in many public places, but not anywhere near where children gather (schools, skate parks, playground, sports fields). Also, you can be arrested if an officer judges you as intoxicated in a public place.
Some major don’ts.
Here are some things not to do.
- Drive while high. It’s a crime in Canada like it is everywhere else.
- Give marijuana to a minor. As noted above, that’s a major no-no.
- Bring pot into Canada. Even if you’re coming from a state where adult-use marijuana is legal, it’s a crime to bring it over the border.
- Bring Canadian weed into the U.S. The U.S. Border Patrol will at least fine you for this, and possibly arrest you.
Keep these rules in mind and read up on the details of marijuana laws where you plan to visit. It’s a unique opportunity to see what a nationwide cannabis legalization effort looks like, up close and personal -- as long as you follow the rules.