Leyland Cecco Tue 16 Oct 2018
Canada will become the second country in the world to legalise recreational marijuana. Photograph: Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Canada will this week become the second country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana, but as they negotiate a patchwork of new legislation and inconsistent enforcement, smokers may soon find that their enjoyment of weed is still blunted.
New rules governing cannabis use are different in each of the country’s 10 provinces and three territories, and campaigners warn that experimentation could still result in hefty fines – or even arrest.
“There will be more laws around the cannabis plant after legalization than there were before,” said Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, a professor at the University of Toronto. “I don’t think the average Canadian is aware of that.”
But regulations rushed into place to govern the legal market could have jarring and unintended consequences, said Abby Deshman of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
“We’re legalizing the industry, but criminalizing a lot of the aspects around the use of cannabis,” she said.
Only purchases from officially recognized stores will be legal: someone selling a few ounces to a friend could still face fines or even jail time.
Giving marijuana to a minor remains illegal, so an 18-year-old sharing marijuana with a 17-year-old could in theory face a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail.
“The danger in this is that people are going to go out and think that they’re using a legal substance and will use it in a variety of ways that may seem innocuous, but could result in criminal charges,” said Deshman.