Canada is the only country offering legal places to blaze (despite what you think you know, cannabis is pretty much illegal in the Netherlands). And while the Canadian cannabis industry got off to a rough start early on, business was booming: According to Stats Canada, as of July 2019 Canada’s cannabis sector contributed $8.26 billion to the country’s gross domestic product.
COVID-19 may have put further progress on hold, but cannabis is still alive and well in Canada. And future travelers who still want to have a stylish (and legal) experience once the pandemic is over can travel to Canada and do so with relative ease. Here’s everything you need to know on how best to navigate — and experience — Canada’s extensive cannabis culture.
A significant consideration for Canadian cannabis companies of all types, as well as investors in those companies, is the role of Canada’s government in the various regulatory measures that govern legalization. In addition to in-person sales at licensed provider (LP) stores, the regulations also allow for online sales. In most provinces, government-run dispensaries facilitate online sales. Additionally, some provinces allow for government dispensaries to regulate the distribution of cannabis products, acting as a middleman between LPs and the consumer.
As to be expected, over time the way that the government has regulated cannabis sales in Canada (and in each separate province) has changed. For example, in 2020, the provincial government of British Columbia amended regulations so that private cannabis stores could sell non-medical cannabis products online for pickup in-store. Previously, customers could reserve products online, but they had to pay in person.
What is legal as of October 17, 2018?
Subject to provincial or territorial restrictions, adults who are 18 years of age or older are legally able to:
- possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis, dried or equivalent in non-dried form in public
- share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults
- buy dried or fresh cannabis and cannabis oil from a provincially-licensed retailer
- in provinces and territories without a regulated retail framework, individuals are able to purchase cannabis online from federally-licensed producers
- grow, from licensed seed or seedlings, up to 4 cannabis plants per residence for personal use
- make cannabis products, such as food and drinks, at home as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products
As of October 17, 2019, cannabis edible products and concentrates are legal for sale.
Possession limits for cannabis products
The possession limits in the Cannabis Act are based on dried cannabis. Equivalents were developed for other cannabis products to identify what their possession limit would be.
One (1) gram of dried cannabis is equal to:
- 5 grams of fresh cannabis
- 15 grams of edible product
- 70 grams of liquid product
- 0.25 grams of concentrates (solid or liquid)
- 1 cannabis plant seed
This means, for example, that an adult 18 years of age or older, can legally possess 150 grams of fresh cannabis.
Where exactly can I buy cannabis in Canada, and how much is it?
Each province has its own specific rules on where to purchase cannabis. In nearly every province (except Nunavut), cannabis is typically sold in a government-run retail shop or a privately run dispensary, or a hybrid of the two. The most important thing to remember is: the only legal way to purchase cannabis is through these stores, and they typically have a seal displayed in the window to indicate they are approved by the Canadian government. For a complete comprehensive shop guide, visit Leafly or BudHub Canada, which break down the products, pricing, vibe and customer service experience at shops.
The purchasing experience can vary province-by-province. Here’s what to expect.
Nova Scotia: The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation is the only retailer of legal cannabis. You can find all their store locations via their website. Right now, there is an online retail site, but you actually can’t access it until you obtain a special access code in-store and verify your age. The cards are free to obtain, but make it difficult to find out what kind of products are in-store before you arrive. Right now, there are 12 retail locations listed on the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation website. On average, you’re looking to pay $10.99 per gram for what they’ve listed as “core” or “premium” cannabis
Ontario: As of April 1, 2019, Ontario’s regulated retail market finally opened for business, with all legal cannabis becoming available for purchase via the Ontario government’s e-commerce website, the Ontario Cannabis Store. But things have changed drastically since that day, with more choices and options. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) lifted its private retail-licensing lottery and opened the floodgates to those who wanted to open a cannabis retail space. Currently, there are 33 cannabis stores authorized to operate in Ontario, with a full map provided here by the AGCO. Retail stores will sell flower, pre-rolls, cannabis oils, vapes, edibles, and capsules. Prices will range from $7.95-$13.25 per gram.
Quebec: Everything in Quebec will be sold in publicly run stores by the government-run Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQDC). Currently, there are 41 cannabis stores around the province, which sell everything from flower, pre-rolls, cannabis oils, beverages, and capsules. As of press time, the SQDC had a note on their website that they were closed on Sundays, and now delivering via Canada Post. Prices range from $5.25 a gram, with all taxes included.
Alberta: One of the most surprising markets since legalization has been Alberta, with over 400 cannabis store licenses — more than any other Canadian jurisdiction — and 40 federal cannabis license holders. The Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis agency has been praised for granting retail licenses quickly and efficiently, ensuring the consumers can purchase products such as buds, pre-rolls, edibles, cannabis oils, and capsules throughout the province. Prices range from $9.24-$15.42 a gram, depending on the retailer.
British Columbia: Many cannabis activists in Canada started out in British Columbia selling through compassion clinics. Now all legal cannabis can be found in privately owned dispensaries and in BC Cannabis Stores (BCCS) operated by the provincial government agency, the BC Liquor Distribution Branch. Right now, there are multiple locations listed via the website, and visitors can order via the e-commerce site. In each of the retail stores, there will be buds, pre-rolls, cannabis oils, and capsules. You may find accessories in some stores, like rolling papers, lighters, pipes, or bongs. Prices range on their website from $6.99-$16.28 per gram.
Statistics Canada has been collecting information on the average cost of cannabis across the country, and on average the average price of cannabis is $7.37 per gram.
The Bottom Line
The legal cannabis industry in Canada has shown tremendous promise. The past few years have seen huge growth for marijuana companies across the country. In some cases, investors should be wary of the hype, and caution may be the best approach. However, just like any other company, cannabis companies publish their financial results. Beyond the hype, this is where the real proof of their success can be found. And in the past several years, many of the early kinks of the industry have been worked out.