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Alert: Marijuana/Cannabis is Now Legal in Canada

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As appears on headlines across Canada, as publicized in the United States, and likely in many other countries across the globe, Marijuana is now legal in Canada.  Effective October 17, 2018, the Cannabis Act https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-24.5/ legalizes possession and non-medical use of cannabis for adults across Canada. The Act also creates a legal framework to control the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada.

The Act aims to accomplish three goals:

  1. Keep cannabis out of the hands of youth
  2. Keep profits out of the pockets of criminals
  3. Protect public health and safety by allowing adults access to legal cannabis

The federal government will set industry-side rules and standards for legal producers and manufacturers of cannabis products which will cover everything from packaging and labelling requirements to production practices and tracking cannabis from seed to sale.  The provinces and territories will license and oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis, as well as regulating where it can be consumed.

Key points about the legalization of marijuana:

  • The legal age to buy use or possess cannabis is 18 or 19, depending on the province and territory. There are penalties for providing or selling cannabis to underage users.  Federally, it is illegal to sell or share cannabis to anyone under 18 years of age
  • Driving while under the influence of cannabis is illegal
  • Cannabis can be carried between Canadian provinces and territories, but not across the Canadian border
  • Cannabis can have negative health impacts and must always be stored where children and animals cannot access it
  • Legal cannabis packaging carries an excise stamp indicating the province or territory

Additional details on the Canadian legislation and the program overall are available at:  http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/cannabis/

Now that we have cleared the haze, if you are located in Canada or do business in Canada, do you believe that you are ready? Are your managers ready? Are your employees ready?  To understand and prepare for your duties and obligations as an employer, we recommend that you contact your legal counsel to determine any impacts to your employment drug testing and background screening program.

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