Is Marijuana Legal in Ontario?
In the wake of Canada’s federal legalization of cannabis, Ontario marijuana laws are more or less in line with all national rules. Under current Ontario marijuana laws, people 19 years and older are allowed to purchase, possess, and consume both medical and recreational cannabis. Consumers are limited to 30 grams of cannabis at any one time.
Under Ontario marijuana laws, it is legal to consume cannabis in the following places:
- Private residences
- Outdoor public places, so long as it doesn’t violate any other consumption restrictions (e.g., consuming too close to a school, hospital, or care facility)
- Designated smoking areas in hotels and motels
- Residential vehicles and boats, so long as it meets other legal requirements for these types of vehicles
- Research labs and testing facilities
- Other controlled and specifically designated consumption spaces
On the other hand, it remains illegal to smoke or vape marijuana in these locations:
- Indoor common areas
- Enclosed public spaces
- Non-designated indoor spaces
- Schools or other places where children commonly gather
- Hospitals, hospices, care homes, and other care facilities
- Publicly owned spaces
- Outdoor public spaces that are too close to restaurants, bars, governmental buildings, sports and entertainment venues, recreational facilities and parks, sheltered outdoor areas such as bus shelters, and other restricted areas
Ontario has also instituted stiff penalties for impaired driving.
Under federal guidelines, drivers face graduated penalties depending on levels of cannabis and/or alcohol concentrations, along with previous offenses. Federally, the legal limit for THC in the bloodstream is 2 nanograms per milliliter. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram. Concentrations between 2 and 5 nanograms result in a fine of up to $1,000. Concentrations of 5 or more nanograms result in a $1,000 minimum fine on the first offense, imprisonment of 30 days or more on a second offense, and 120 days or more on a third offense. Penalties for drug-impaired driving accidents can range from 18 months to as much as life in prison for an accident involving a fatality.
Ontario has imposed its own regulations in addition to the federal ones. Among those are a zero-tolerance for drivers 21 or younger, and novice drivers of any age, for both cannabis and alcohol. For individuals suspected of driving under the influence or showing signs of impairment, penalties include an immediate three-day suspension and $250 fine. Those convicted in court face a 30-day license suspension, and fines of $60 to $500, in addition to federal penalties.
How to Purchase
Now that national legalization has taken effect, consumers in Ontario can purchase adult-use cannabis online through the public Ontario Cannabis Store, a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board. The store maintains a website that explains the legalization process in Ontario.
Initially, the Ontario Cannabis Store was the sole retailer of legal weed. But in April 2019, the first brick and mortar cannabis retailers went into operation. As a result, it is much easier to find cannabis in Ontario than ever before. Inkeeping with national rules, customers are permitted to buy a maximum of 30 grams, slightly more and one ounce, of dried cannabis at one time.
Where is it Legal to Consume?
Smoking recreational cannabis is permitted wherever smoking tobacco is allowed. It is legal to consume marijuana in private residences, including porches and backyards. Renters can smoke inside units or on balconies unless prohibited by lease or property agreements.
Breaking those rules is punishable by a $1,000 fine for a first offense and $5,000 for subsequent violations.
Universities are considering their approaches, although many already have smoke-free policies for tobacco and vaping that will extend to cannabis.
Proprietors and supporters of existing lounges, where medical marijuana has been consumed, hope to be allowed to permit recreational marijuana.
It is illegal to consume cannabis in a vehicle or boat for all occupants, regardless of whether the vehicle is in motion. In a vehicle, cannabis must be stored in a sealed container that is not accessible to drivers or passengers during transport.
Possession Information and Limits
The legal age to buy or possess cannabis in Ontario is 19, which is the same as the legal age for alcohol and tobacco. Consumers are limited to 30 grams per transaction.
The province allows possession by adults of up to 30 grams, or a little more than one ounce, of cannabis in a public place. The national government has set equivalencies for one gram of dried cannabis as five grams of fresh cannabis; 15 grams, or one-half ounce of edibles; 70 milliliters, or 2.35 fluid ounces, of liquid; 0.25 grams of concentrate; and one plant seed. No limit has been established for the amount of marijuana that can be stored in a home.
By federal law, patients using medical marijuana are allowed to have up to 150 grams, or 5.3 ounces, of dried marijuana or its equivalent, which is30 times the daily dose prescribed by an authorized health-care practitioner,.
Ontario follows the federal government’s guidance and allows residents to grow up to four plants per household regardless of the number of adult occupants. These limits are separate from approved and licensed home-grown medical marijuana, which is governed by national laws.
Medical Marijuana in Ontario
Thousands of Canadians are federally licensed to possess and use medical marijuana. Canadians who wish to use marijuana for medical purposes must qualify for the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), which went into effect Aug. 24, 2016.
Recipients must provide medical documentation confirming diagnosis by a health-care practitioner. Patients must not be convicted of a marijuana-related offense and can be registered only once at a time.
Generally, patients can qualify for medical marijuana under two categories. One is to allow for compassionate end-of-life care, alleviating pain symptoms relating to illnesses and injuries, or treatment of the side effects of cancer or HIV/AIDS medications.
The second category covers patients suffering from persistent debilitating symptoms. Among the ailments Health Canada lists as possibly qualifying are:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Attention-deficit and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorders (ADD/ADHD)
- Back and neck conditions
- Brain injury
- Chronic nausea
- Chronic pain
- Crohn’s disease
- Eating disorders
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Hepatitis C
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Kidney failure, including patients receiving dialysis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscle spasms
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Sexual dysfunction
- Sleep disorders
- Vehicular crashes
Information on eligibility and applying is available at the Canadian government’s medical marijuana website.
Authorized caregivers are allowed to possess fresh or dried marijuana or cannabis oil, and may transfer or administer the substance. They may also transfer substances to an individual who is responsible for the patient under his or her professional treatment.
Is Marijuana Legal in Toronto?
Yes. Because Toronto is part of Ontario, it is legal to purchase, possess, and consume cannabis in the city. Under Canada’s marijuana laws, local provinces and municipalities have authority to create their own marijuana legislation. By and large, Toronto marijuana laws align with all Ontario marijuana laws and all national marijuana laws.
Illegal storefronts are arguably the most notable aspect of city-specific rules in Toronto. That’s largely because Toronto has long been home to a robust scene of illegal storefronts that regularly sell marijuana despite lacking legal licensure. The city’s official website clarifies that “cannabis cannot be legally purchased through any retail store in Toronto without a provincial license,” and further states that the Municipal Licensing and Standards agency “continues to work in partnership with the Toronto Police Service on the continued enforcement activities against illegal cannabis storefronts.” If you’re trying to buy marijuana in Toronto, your safest bet is to purchase online from the Ontario Cannabis Store or from a fully licensed brick and mortar marijuana shop.