You may be among the many in Alberta and across Canada who have been eagerly anticipating the legalization of cannabis. Perhaps you are looking forward to trying it for the first time, or you may simply be relieved to not worry about breaking the law when you enjoy cannabis with your friends. Your wait is nearly over. Already legal and available for authorized medicinal purposes, cannabis will be legal for recreational use by the end of 2018 under careful federal and provincial regulation.
The regulations will limit the amount of cannabis you can carry or grow as well as setting age restrictions for those who can use the substance. The government seeks to protect you by overseeing the production and distribution of cannabis and educating the public about the risks of using it. Like alcohol consumption, cannabis can affect your ability to drive safely, and law enforcement will be vigilant about identifying and arresting those driving while impaired.
Know your limits and your rights
If you intend to take advantage of the new freedoms for the possession and use of cannabis, you would be wise to understand the laws. The legalization of the substance does not mean you are free to use it at any time or place you wish. In fact, if you are under the age of 18, the government has a zero tolerance policy, and a minor possessing more than five grams may face criminal charges. Other restrictions on the use or possession of cannabis will include the following and others:
- Consuming cannabis in places where children gather
- Opening an establishment for the retail sale of cannabis near schools or daycares
- Smoking cannabis in places where tobacco smoking is prohibited
- Growing cannabis outdoors
- Growing more than four plants
- Consuming cannabis when you are the driver or passenger of a vehicle
Law enforcement will be adapting its methods at traffic stops to identify drivers who are impaired by cannabis. If your blood has a specified amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, the most powerful psychoactive found in cannabis, you may face steep fines and even jail after your first offence.
While it may be true that the government wants to have safeguards in place to protect the public from the dangers associated with cannabis, more regulations also means more opportunities for authorities to violate your rights. If you find yourself in legal trouble for possessing, distributing or cultivating cannabis, or you are arrested for driving while impaired, you would do well to have a legal professional advise you on the best course of action.