Canada: Cannabis Is Being Legalized – Here's What Happens Next In Ontario

On October 17, 2018, the sale, possession and use of recreational cannabis will be legal in Canada as a result of the federal Cannabis Act and its Regulations.[1] When this happens, provincial legislation will also come into effect.

This legal update provides an overview of some of the key areas of cannabis law in Ontario, and is intended as general guidance only.

What's the status?

The sale, possession and use of all cannabis, except for medical purposes, are currently illegal. Right now, the only place one can legally purchase cannabis for medical purposes is online from a licensed producer ("LP"). The dispensaries clustered around downtown Toronto and other areas continue to be illegal.

Canada has experienced an undeniable cultural shift since the government's announcement of a pending policy change in 2015. "Legalization became real when people started calling it 'cannabis' instead of one of the slang alternatives," says Awi Sinha, Co-Head of McCarthy Tétrault's Cannabis Law Group. "Three years ago, when I said 'cannabis' in a boardroom, my clients were ready to call security. Now, I am having strategic, executive-level conversations with all manner of blue-chip organizations in an array of affected sectors: finance, real property, retail. The actual cannabis players are the centre of a circle. It is on everyone's radar".

This should not come as a shock. As one of the understatements of the year, we learned from the Final Report of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, there already exists a market and appetite for cannabis. Statistics showed that 1/3 of adults have consumed cannabis and 20 to 30% of youth will consume cannabis in their lifetime. A study conducted by Deloitte in 2016 estimated the total market for cannabis in Canada to near $23 billion. Another study by Deloitte in 2018 estimated the market for recreational cannabis in Canada will generate $4.34 billion in sales in 2019. These stats are telling.

What's coming in Ontario?

In Ontario, the Cannabis Act, 2017 ("Ontario's Cannabis Act") is slated to be law. But Bill 36, the Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, 2018, a product of the newly appointed Progressive Conservative government in Ontario, is likely to come into effect and will make a number of significant amendments to Ontario's Cannabis Act, including where one may sell and consume cannabis. Bill 36 is currently on its Third Reading.

Additional parameters will be put in place by municipalities, which will make by-laws, employers and managers who will enforce new rules on their employees and staff, and landlords with respect to their tenants.

Here are some of the highlights:

  1. What? On October 17, 2018, dried and fresh cannabis, cannabis oil, plants and seeds will be legal. Edible products are expected to become legal in approximately a year.
  2. How old and how much? Ontario has set the minimum age for consumption of cannabis at 19. Any person meeting the minimum age requirement may possess up to 30 grams (about an ounce) of dried cannabis. Any person traveling by plane within Canada only will be permitted to carry up to the maximum amount of recreational cannabis in either her or his checked luggage or carry-on bags.
  3. Where can I buy it? In Ontario, the only place that consumers will initially be able to purchase cannabis will be online from the Ontario Cannabis Store (the "OCS").

    A major change from Bill 36 is the introduction of a regulated regime for private cannabis retail stores that would launch by April 1, 2019. While LPs will be the only legal producers of cannabis (not including home-grown cannabis in accordance with the law), private stores will require licences to sell cannabis. According to Bill 36, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario would be the provincial regulator authorized to grant such licences and the OCS would be the exclusive wholesaler. Notably, there will not be a cap on the number of private cannabis retailers.
  4. Where can I use it? Whereas Ontario's Cannabis Act put in place very strict rules on where one can consume cannabis, Bill 36 will allow for smoking or holding lighted cannabis in the same places where you can smoke or hold lighted tobacco, use an electronic cigarette, or consume a prescribed product or substance, in a prescribed manner. These include places such as private residences and outdoor public spaces, among others.

    In general, smoking or holding lighted cannabis in enclosed workplaces is illegal and will remain illegal after October 17, 2018. Employers may adopt further restrictions on cannabis and should review their relevant policies.
  5. Can I travel to the United States? Cannabis is still illegal in the U.S. federally (even though several States have legalized recreational cannabis in their respective State). Unsurprisingly, it remains illegal to cross the Canadian/U.S. border with cannabis. But red flags have been raised in respect of people who have used cannabis recreationally or who work in the industry. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection helpfully released a statement in September 2018 that appears to indicate that a Canadian working in the legal cannabis industry should not be prohibited from travelling to the U.S. if the purpose of the travel is unrelated to cannabis:

    A Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S. however, if a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.

Nonetheless, you should seek advice and exercise caution before crossing the border if you use cannabis or work in the space.

The Bottom Line

With the legalization of recreational cannabis, big change is coming to Ontario and Canada more generally. And if we learned anything from Bill 36, it is clear that there will be continual change before the cannabis industry reaches run state. If you plan to purchase or consume cannabis, or you or your business engage with cannabis in some way, be sure to understand how these new laws will affect you and keep abreast to anticipated changes.

To view original article, please click here.


[1] See also the new Industrial Hemp Regulations.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions