Cannabis Laws





Recreational (Non-Medical) Cannabis Use and the Law

Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, legalizes possession of cannabis for personal use by adults in Canada and came into effect on October 17, 2018. Legal possession includes dried cannabis, seeds, plants and oils. Other cannabis products such as edibles, candies and beverages are not yet legal but may be by 2019.


The Cannabis Act attempts to ensure access to a safe, regulated supply of cannabis, while minimizing the harms of use. Key elements of the federal Cannabis Act and provincial Cannabis Control and Licencing Act are:


  • Minimum age: Adults 19 and over in BC are able to legally buy, possess, grow, and use cannabis. It will continue to be a criminal offence to sell cannabis to a young person.
  • Personal Possession: The adult public possession limit will be 30 grams.  Minors in BC (people under the age of 19) are not allowed to possess any cannabis.
  • Retail and Distribution: Provincial and territorial governments will regulate retail sales and distribution within their jurisdictions. The BC government is the lone wholesaler of cannabis through the BC Liquor Distribution Branch and a hybrid system of public and private retailers sell cannabis. No co-selling of cannabis with liquor or tobacco is allowed.
  • Public Consumption: Consumption will generally be allowed in public spaces where tobacco and vaping are permitted
  • Personal Cultivation: Adults will be allowed to grow a maximum of four plants per household.
  • Production: The federal government will regulate production and product standards.
  • Promotion/advertising: No promotion or advertising of cannabis products will be allowed (with limited exceptions).
  • Seed-to-sale tracking: A seed-to-sale tracking system will support product safety, compliance and enforcement.


The federal government has established a mail order retail system for cannabis.  Read a plain language version of the Cannabis Act here.


Despite the fact that cannabis is legal and regulated in Canada, it will remain illegal to transport cannabis across Canada's national borders.


Medical Use of Cannabis

People living in Canada have had legal access to cannabis for relief of various symptoms of chronic illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, cancer and inflammatory bowel disease since 2001. The regulations have changed over time. The Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations set out the current rules.


Individuals who have a medical need and the authorization of their health care practitioner are able to access cannabis in three ways:


  • buy it by registering with a licensed producer
  • register with Health Canada to produce a limited amount for their own medical purposes
  • designate someone else to produce it for them.


An individual with a medical need is allowed to possess an amount of cannabis sufficient to address their medical needs for 30 days, up to 150 grams of dried marijuana or the equivalent amount if in another form.


Under the new law, which legalizes non-medical cannabis use, the 'cannabis for medical purposes' rules will continue to exist.


Crossing the Canada/United States/Other International Borders

It is illegal to take cannabis across Canada's international borders. Individuals possessing cannabis and attempting to travel to other countries may be subject to criminal charges.


Links to further information:

Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations

Cannabis Act

Cannabis and international travel

U.S. Customs and Border Statement on Canada's Legalization of Marijuana and Crossing the Border

BC Cannabis Information and Regulations