Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada’s smallest province by land area, will have only four (4) government-owned storefronts in which adult-use cannabis can be purchased when marijuana is legalized nationwide on Oct. 17, 2018.
Like Nova Scotia, its neighbor to the south, the PEI government decided to take control of the product and will oversee all purchase, sales, and distribution of non-medical cannabis through its PEI Liquor Control Commission. However, unlike Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island will sell recreational marijuana only from stand-alone dispensaries, rather than including them in government “package” stores.
The government outlined its plans in BIll 29: An Act to Respond to the Legalization of Cannabis.
A public survey received more than 2,900 responses and the government produced a Preparation for Cannabis Legalization report , which helped guide government decisions. Among the findings:
- 47 percent of Islanders supported a 19-year-old minimum age for purchase and possession, with 18 percent each supporting a lower minimum age of 18 and a higher 21-year-old minimum age
- 79 percent wanted the same or stronger restrictions as tobacco consumption, and
- Islanders generally supported a variety of educational programs and approaches for cannabis.
- Islanders also favored private retailers 61 percent to 34 percent. Nonetheless, the government chose to maintain control over sales, according to the report, “to align with government’s focus on getting rid of the illegal market for cannabis and keeping cannabis out of the hands of children.”
The province’s regulations and penalties for drug-impaired driving mirror those for alcohol in the PEI Highway Traffic Act, including a zero-tolerance policy for inexperienced and drivers younger than 19.
Penalties include immediate 24-hour suspension of a license if an officer believes a driver is impaired. If over the limit, a 90-day suspension is added, and vehicles for 30 to 60 days. A person convicted of impaired driving faces a fine of at least $1,200 and suspensions of one (1), three (3), or five (5) years depending on past convictions. Other penalties may be imposed, such as the installation of an ignition interlock device and attendance in alcohol and drug awareness programs.
Limited exceptions may be made for drivers using medical marijuana if they are not deemed to be driving impaired.
Under federal guidelines, drivers face graduated penalties depending on levels of drug and/or alcohol concentrations, as well as previous offenses.
Federally, the legal limit for THC in the bloodstream is two (2) nanograms per milliliter. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram. Concentrations between two and five nanograms result in a fine of up to $1,000. Concentrations of five (5) or more nanograms will result in a $1,000 minimum fine for a first offense, imprisonment of 30 days or more for a second offense, and 120 days or more for a third offense. Penalties for drug-impaired driving can range from 18 months to as much as life imprisonment for a fatal crash.
How to Purchase
Adult-use marijuana will initially be available in four (4) government stores on Prince Edward Island. The government will decide whether to add more locations at a later date.
Online sales will be available from the PEI Liquor Control Commission and available for delivery to legal addresses on the island.
Cannabis will not be displayed on shelves. Rather, customers will use tablets to make their selections, or they will consult with a clerk. They will also no be allowed to touch the product, although sniff jars will be available to allow customers to smell and examine the cannabis through a magnifying glass.
About 50 employees across the four stores will be certified and trained for four (4) to six (6) weeks each, so they would be able to advise customers based upon the experience the buyers are seeking. The government has contracted with about a dozen suppliers.
Customers are permitted to buy a maximum of 30 grams, or 1.06 ounces, of dried cannabis at one time, or equivalents in fresh cannabis and cannabis oils. Edibles and other products are expected to be introduced in 2019.
Where is it Safe to Consume?
Smoking will not be allowed in most public places, with exceptions for certain areas in multi-unit and communal living spaces. The Smoke-free Places Act, which restricts where a person may smoke any substance, also applies.
Cannabis consumption will be allowed on private property, including trailers, tents, guest and hotel rooms, and houseboats. Smoking is allowed in rentals and condominiums, but landlords can restrict cannabis use by lease or property agreements.
It is illegal to consume cannabis while operating a motorized vehicle for either drivers or passengers. In a vehicle, cannabis must be stored in a sealed container that is not accessible to the driver or passengers during transport.
Possession Information and Limits
The minimum legal age to buy or possess cannabis on Prince Edward Island is 19. The province allows possession by adults of up to 30 grams, or 1.06 ounces, of cannabis in most public places.
The national government has set equivalencies for one (1) gram of dried cannabis to equal:
- five (5) grams of fresh cannabis
- 15 grams, or one-half ounce (0.5 oz) of edibles
- 70 milliliters, or 2.35 fluid ounces, of liquid
- 0.25 grams of concentrate, and
- one (1) plant seed
There is no limit for home storage, although the province said it may consider limits in the future. Cannabis stored at home must not be accessible to minors younger than 19.
Minors younger than 19 cannot possess recreational marijuana. Those with less than five (5) grams will have the marijuana seized and face diversion programs and graduated penalties similar to alcohol violations for repeat offenders. Those with more than five (5) grams face criminal prosecution under federal law.
By federal law, patients using medical marijuana are allowed to have up to 150 grams, or 5.3 ounces — 30 times the daily dose prescribed by an authorized health-care practitioner, either an authorized physician or nurse practitioner — of dried marijuana or its equivalent.
to Be to Consume?
Prince Edward Island will permit homeowners to grow up to four (4) plants in their home. Renters are required to have prior approval from property owners to grow cannabis.
These regulations do not apply for approved and licensed home-grown medical marijuana, which is governed by national laws.
Thousands of Canadians are federally licensed to possess and use medical marijuana. Until the new law is passed, Canadians must qualify for the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), which came into effect August 24, 2016.
Recipients must provide medical documentation confirming the diagnosis by a health-care practitioner, either an authorized physician or nurse practitioner.
Patients must not be convicted of a marijuana-related offense and 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, for alleviating pain symptoms relating to illnesses and injuries, or for side effects from cancer or HIV/AIDS medications.. The second category is for patients suffering from other 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
- Eating disorders
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Crohn’s disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Hepatitis C
- Kidney failure, including patients receiving dialysis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscle spasms
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Severe arthritis
- 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 substances or provide a medical document. They may also transfer substances to an individual who is responsible for the patient under their professional treatment.
This page was last updated October 16, 2018.