A Guide to Cannabis Possession Laws in Canada

The federal government is in the process of legalizing and regulating the sales of cannabis for adult use, but in the meantime, cannabis is still considered a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act. Until July 1, 2018, it will remain an offense to possess and sell cannabis for non-medical purposes, including through unlicensed dispensaries and compassion clubs.

If you are a registered medical cannabis patient, you can legally possess up to 150 grams of cannabis. You may:

  • register with a licensed producer and order cannabis through their mailing program,
  • produce your own cannabis through home cultivation, or
  • appoint someone to grow cannabis for you.

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You may not:

  • purchase cannabis through unlicensed dispensaries or compassion clubs,
  • cultivate cannabis at home while registered with a licensed producer, or
  • sell cannabis to non-medical patients.

Until July 1, 2018, if you are caught with cannabis without being a registered medical patient, the court must first prove:

  • you had control of the marijuana (e.g. it was in your car, your pocket, your residence, etc.), and
  • you knew the marijuana was there.

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Criminal Cannabis Penalties in Canada

Offense Level of offense Monetary penalty Jail time
Possession of up to 30 grams 1st offense $1,000 fine 6 months in jail
2nd offense $2,000 fine 1 year in jail
Trafficking 1-2 years minimum
Possession with purpose of trafficking 1-2 years minimum
Importing/Exporting 1 year minimum
Production of 6-200 plants 6 months minimum
With health & safety factors 9 months minimum
Production of 201-500 plants 1 year minimum
With health & safety factors 18 months minimum
Production of 500+ plants 2 years minimum
With health & safety factors 3 years minimum
Production of oil or resin 1 year minimum
With health & safety factors 18 months minimum

For more information, please refer to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

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The penalty may be reduced or increased depending on the amount of cannabis in possession, or depending on aggravating factors, such as health and safety concerns or the use of combustible solvents. Anecdotal evidence suggests many first-time offenders possessing cannabis end up paying a hefty fine towards charity in exchange for charges being dropped.

After July 1, 2018, there will still be penalties for certain cannabis-related crimes:

Offense Penalties
Illegal distribution or sale
  • Tickets for small amounts
  • Up to 14 years in jail
Possession of more than 30 grams
  • Tickets for small amounts
  • Up to 5 years in jail
Production of cannabis beyond personal cultivation limits or with combustible solvents
  • Tickets for small amounts
  • Up to 14 years in jail
Importing or exporting cannabis
  • Up to 14 years in jail

For more information on the legalization of cannabis, please refer to Legalizing and strictly regulating cannabis: the facts.

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