What Happens When Marijuana Becomes Legal in 2018?

Last year, Canada set in motion plans to legalize marijuana use by July 1, 2018. Ontario is the first province to announce its plans to sell and distribute recreational marijuana once it becomes legal. (Note: medical marijuana has been legal since 2015).

The proposed strategy would be to regulate marijuana providers and supervise quality control of the supply chain – similar to the regulation and control of alcohol and tobacco use.

So what does this mean for Canadians? Some of the most common questions I’m hearing are:

1. “Will I be able to purchase marijuana anywhere?”

No! Distribution and sale will only be legal if purchased through approved providers – exactly who would be able to sell marijuana in Canada is still being determined. So far, Ontario has announced plans to open 80 stand-alone stores by July 1, 2019.

2. “Can I grow or produce my own marijuana?”

No! It will still be illegal to:

  • Possess or distribute a budding or flowering plant
  • Possess or distribute more than 4 non-budding plants
  • Possessing more than 30 dried grams in public

3. “Once people buy marijuana, where can they smoke it?”
Unlike regular cigarettes and cigars, consuming the drug will only be allowed in private residences. It will be prohibited in public spaces, cars or workplaces; users won’t be able to smoke in a park, or at their desk at work.

4. “What if I observe someone getting high at work?”

The government is asking employers across Canada to implement and/or update their workplace policies.  Recreational use of marijuana would be dealt in a similar manner to that of someone who comes to work drunk or behaves incorrectly in the work environment. In the event an employee is unclear on how to handle a situation at work, it’s important that they’re able to discuss this with their employer as soon as possible.

5. “What about employees who use marijuana for medical purposes?” 

The government is now requiring all employers to establish workplace policies to protect employers and employees. Medical marijuana laws are different than those for recreational users since it is necessary for health reasons, I will cover this issue in a future post.

Want to find out more about marijuana in the workplace and other healthcare issues?  Contact me for a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

To learn more about the cannabis industry, check out Marcus Lemonis’ documentary on CNBC as he unfolds why cannabis production is booming across North America.



Aviva Abraham is a group benefits and insurance advisor at Creative Planning. She has been providing healthcare solutions for self employed and business owners since 2010.