At Eden, we know that navigating the evolving legal landscape of cannabis can be tough—especially if you’re new to the scene, researching different products and consumption methods, figuring out what’s right for you, and considering what’s legal and what isn’t. All of this information can make it difficult to make informed decisions about what cannabis products will best suit your needs. Let us help. We’ve put together all you need to know about the products you can (and can’t) enjoy in the cannabis marketplace.
Let’s start with a bit of backstory
Once Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in 2015 that there would be a legal market for adult-use cannabis, the government took three years to determine what that would look like. After much back and forth as both the Senate and the House of Commons reviewed and amended proposed regulations, Canada opened up the adult use market by allowing the sale of five cannabis product categories:
- dried cannabis
- cannabis oil
- fresh cannabis
- cannabis plant seeds
- cannabis plants
Upon legalization, a number of licensed producers and retailers across the country made the first two product categories widely available to consumers. The next phase of the Cannabis Act, which was just launched in October 2019, legalized three new product categories:
- cannabis extracts
- cannabis topicals
- edible cannabis
But don’t get too excited yet. Because of the regulations around how long retailers need to wait before they can sell edibles, topicals, and extracts you won’t be able to purchase your favourite cannabis-infused products until mid-December at the earliest.
Breaking down legal cannabis
Confused yet? Don’t be. We’ve pulled together all the resources you need to figure out how to stay compliant with the rules as you navigate your various options for cannabis use.
Dried or fresh cannabis
This is the most popular category and includes all “herbal materials”—a fancy way of saying the leaves, buds, and flowers of the cannabis plant. These are often smoked as joints, spliffs, or blunts, or inhaled through a pipe or bong. As an alternative consumption choice, some people also make cannabis-infused tea with the buds of the plant.
Getting into the technicalities, you’re allowed to possess up to 30 grams of legal dried cannabis in public. That rule applies across Canada, making it easy to remember, but when it comes to where you can actually smoke cannabis, the lines are a bit fuzzier as federal, regional, and municipal governments each have their own regulations.
In B.C., you are legally allowed to smoke or vape cannabis in public, as long as it is not in a place where tobacco consumption is illegal, for example, parks, beaches, public patios, or sports fields. Additionally, it’s illegal within 6 metres of windows and doorways of public buildings, workplaces, condos, or common areas of apartments.
Cannabis plants or plant seeds
If you have a green thumb, you can grow your own cannabis plants at home, which you can then use to smoke, or prepare your own snacks and beverages.
A couple of things to keep in mind about cannabis plants in B.C.:
- You’re allowed a maximum of four cannabis plants at your private residence. Note that the maximum is per residence, not per person.
- Since one cannabis seed is equivalent to 1 gram of dried cannabis, you’re allowed to carry 30 of them at any given time.
Most provinces and territories have created their own additional regulations around cannabis growing.
As we’ve learned, cannabis comes in various forms that go well beyond the commonly sourced images of dried flower. Extracts are cannabinoid-dense concentrations retrieved from the cannabis plant. They can be consumed through practices such as dabbing, or dissolved to create milder cannabis oils.
Cannabis extracts are the most malleable form as they can be concentrated in different ways to create various types of products:
- Chemical extraction turns extracts into hash oil, shatter, budder, and wax.
- Physical extraction makes hash, kief, and rosin.
Haven’t heard of these before? Don’t worry. With the newest wave of legalization, cannabis extracts are now available for purchase. In terms of what you’ll get when you buy extracts, the government has placed limits of 10mg of THC per unit (e.g. capsule) and 1,000mg per package. Like with all other non-bud products, under the new regulations, extracts will have to have a label that indicates their equivalency to dried cannabis so that you can determine where you are on the public possession limit (30 grams). The same goes for edibles and topicals.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to use extracts and whether they’re the right fit for you, our cannabis consultants will always be happy to assist you.
For those who are turned off by the idea of smoking and worry about the effects of THC, there are other ways to enjoy the therapeutic effects of cannabis besides inhaling and ingesting.
While cannabis topicals won’t get you high, they’re great for relaxing sore muscles and promoting wellness, and they’re quickly gaining popularity. They include products such as:
- Creams and lotions
- Salves and liniments
- Bath products
That said, under the legal restrictions, manufacturers can’t make any claims about the health benefits of their CBD- or THC-infused creams and balms. What you will find on the label, however, is an ‘intended use’ statement. In order to find the right fit for you, you’ll have to test each product—which can have up to 1,000mg of THC—to see the effect it has on you.
This is perhaps the broadest category of cannabis products, as it covers both food and beverages. Before you know it, you’ll be able to buy cannabis-infused snacks that appeal to every palate and lifestyle:
- Brownies, cookies, chocolate, and hard and soft candy for the sweet-tooths out there.
- Drinks such as soda and teas made with cannabis oils.
- Cannabis oil and tinctures that can be used as cooking ingredients, or ingested as drops under the tongue.
Under current regulations, each package of edibles can only contain 10 milligrams of THC—and as a consumer, you’ll only be able to carry 450 grams of edibles with you at a given time. This is because the equivalency for 1 gram of dried cannabis is 15 grams of edible product. If you want to share with others, you can only give (read: not sell) up to 450 grams of edibles to another adult. All things to be aware of when you decide to take your first taste.
How can you tell if cannabis is legal?
You should always buy cannabis from a licensed cannabis store—so make sure you do your research beforehand. Retail licensing will vary in different provinces and territories since some regional governments have opted to manage the sale of cannabis products. In B.C., for instance, the province has created a list of all licensed private retailers. If the store you’re considering isn’t on that list, you should look elsewhere. Not only will this keep you out of trouble, but it’s also a health-conscious option since the entire supply chain is tracked and checked for quality and safety.
At our Eden stores, our staff will also be there to support you in choosing the right product, whether you’re totally new to the scene or have dabbled in the past. Our years of experience mean that we can guide you through the process and help you learn along the way.
Canada’s legal cannabis framework keeps evolving, and it’s hard to keep up. The best advice we can give you is to reach out and ask questions if you’re not sure what you can and can’t do. And if you want to learn more, check out our other posts on the cannabis space.
Photo credits: ElRoi / Shutterstock, Mitch M / Shutterstock