Canada’s new Cannabis laws came into force October 17th, 2018, and it is important that persons who choose to consume the drug be aware of what the new laws allow (for a summary of some of the new laws see http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/cannabis/).
Failure to properly understand the laws and what is permitted regarding possession, distribution, and consumption could cause complications not only for criminal reasons, but potentially family law reasons as well. These complications could affect some family law issues such as:
- Custody and Access
What does The Cannabis Act allow?
Individuals can now legally do the following:
- 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
It is important to note that cannabis must be supplied from a legal source as described above. Any illicitly acquired cannabis is not protected by the act and may result in penalties. Furthermore, although edible products can be produced at home, they are not legal for sale for approximately one more year.
Youth and Cannabis
One of the purposes of The Cannabis Act (the “Act”) is to protect the youth from accessing cannabis. As the Act provides, “No person may sell or provide cannabis to any person under the age of 18”. This means that individuals cannot give or sell cannabis to youth, or use a youth to commit a cannabis-related offence.
Travel and Cannabis
Cannabis is still illegal in most of the United States. Crossing the border without properly understanding these laws could create significant issues. Also, each province is responsible for developing their own regulations regarding Cannabis such as:
- increasing the minimum age in their province or territory (but not lowering it)
- lowering the personal possession limit in their jurisdiction
- creating additional rules for growing cannabis at home, such as lowering the number of plants per residence
- restricting where adults can consume cannabis, such as in public or in vehicles
Pardons for Simple Pot Convictions
Now that individuals are allowed to possess up to 30 grams of legal Cannabis, Ottawa is moving to pardon those with a pot possession conviction of 30 grams or less (https://globalnews.ca/news/4558996/cannabis-pardons-simple-possession/). However, those seeking the pardon will have to apply for one.
How might this affect Family Law?
Some questions that may be tested in the future regarding these new laws could include:
- Should a parent be allowed to exercise access visits at their home if they fall within the allowed possession or consumption laws? Would this be contrary to the purpose of the Cannabis Act to protect the youth?
- What happens if a parent owns illicit cannabis that was shared improperly between adults and contrary to the new laws? Would a judge factor this into any parenting arrangements?
- If a person had their parenting arrangements affected by a pot possession conviction, how could that change if their possession conviction is then pardoned?
- What if a parent tries to take the child across the border to the US or another province, but is found with legal marijuana in their possession? Would this be factored in negatively by a judge at any family law court proceedings?
Case law will be developed over time regarding Cannabis consumption and possession and how it can affect Family law issues. We will be keeping an eye on how these and other issues will be interpreted by courts to ensure that we can provide you with up to date information on the issue.
Disclaimer: The above is for informational purposes only and does not serve as legal advice. Please speak to your lawyer to better assess your specific situation.