How to Consume Cannabis Responsibly at Festivals in Canada

On October 17, 2018, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Woo hoo!

Spinach™ lovers across the country are gearing up for a wicked festival season this year. Before getting high on life at outdoor events, it's really important to understand where you are legally allowed to consume cannabis.

You may be surprised how detailed the laws are about where you can relish your Spinach™, including whether you can consume it on a moving boat or restaurant patio. The rules vary between provinces and even cities within the same province. The laws on the medical use of cannabis may be different, but we’ll talk about non-medical cannabis consumption.

We're not trying to be a buzzkill. We just don't want to see anyone have unpleasant conversations with authorities or get fined.  

Punishments for consuming cannabis in an illegal area also vary from province to province. People who get caught could end up paying hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines. They could even face jail time. Yikes! That's a lot of Spinach™, money, and time to lose. So, don’t let that be you.


Are There Any Risks With Cannabis at Festivals? 

Federal, provincial and municipal levels of government have a say in where non-medical cannabis can be consumed. If you're going to a festival, it's really important to read both provincial and municipal laws on cannabis consumption on the government websites. 

While the federal government has a broad set of rules, it’s up to provinces and municipalities to enforce many of the laws surrounding it. Municipalities have the power to create additional restrictions on public use and many have done so around Canada.

If you’re driving to a concert or festival in Canada where it is legal to take your Spinach™, travel with your cannabis in the trunk and never, ever under the influence. 

 

Provincial Public Consumption Laws for Non-Medical Cannabis 

Let's dive into some of the key points about legal cannabis consumption in each province to help your plan for your festival trips. In some provinces, you may have to leave your Spinach™ at home.

 

Nova Scotia 

Nova Scotians actually lead the country in cannabis consumption. Good job Nova Scotia!  

  • Legal consumption: The Smoke-free Places Act applies to all consumption of cannabis in public. Basically, you can smoke your Spinach™ wherever you can legally smoke a cigarette. People can use cannabis in a privately owned home. But if you rent, your landlord may change your lease and put rules in place about cannabis smoking or growing. See Service Nova Scotia for more details if you are a Spinach™-loving
  • Where to buy: The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation is the only authorized retailer of cannabis in Nova Scotia.
  • Distribution: Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation has control.
  • Minimum Age: 19

 

British Columbia 

British Columbia has been liberal towards cannabis long before it was legalized. The province was already established with a system of stores. The government voted in favour of the current cannabis infrastructure and mainly focuses on improving it.  

  • Legal consumption:Adults can generally smoke or vape cannabis in a public place where smoking and vaping tobacco is allowed. See the full list of rules  
  • Cannabis at festivals: Cannabis can be consumed if the and if the public space permits smoking and vaping tobacco.
  • Retail model: The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) is responsible for licensing private stores and running government-operated stores. LCRB is the only entity permitted to sell non-medical cannabis online.
  • Distribution: Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch
  • Minimum age: 19

 

Alberta 

Alberta's rules around cannabis consumption were developed after months of engagement with stakeholders and partners in the province. They also conducted extensive research on other jurisdictions and considered their existing tobacco and liquor laws. 

  • Legal consumption: Albertans can consume cannabis in their homes and in some public spaces where smoking tobacco is allowed. See the full list of rules here
  • Cannabis at festivals: Cannabis can be consumed if the event rules allow it and if the public space permits smoking tobacco.
  • Where to buy: People can buy at privately run retail stores or the online site run by Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC). The physical stores are subject to government regulations and AGLC licensing terms.
  • Distribution: Managed directly by the AGLC.
  • Minimum age: 18

 

Saskatchewan 

Saskatchewan's laws incorporate feedback from experts, stakeholders and residents. Unlike some other provinces where you can consume cannabis in certain public areas, Saskatchewan is much stricter. 

  • Legal consumption: You are only allowed to consume cannabis in your own home if you are the owner. But if you are a renter, there may be some restrictions. See the full list of rules here.
  • Cannabis at festivals: Not permitted.
  • Where to buy: Businesses that hold a retail cannabis permit from Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority can legally sell cannabis.
  • Distribution: Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority has control.
  • Minimum age: 19

 

Manitoba 

Going to a concert or festival in Manitoba? You can take your buddies, but you might want to leave your buds at home. 

  • Legal consumption: Cannabis can mainly be consumed at home if you are a homeowner of a single family dwelling. But if you are renting, it is important to make sure the landlord approves cannabis consumption. See the full list of rules here.
  • Cannabis at festivals: Not permitted.
  • Where to buy: You can only buy from a cannabis retailer licensed by the Liquor, Gaming & Cannabis Authority of Manitoba.
  • Distribution: The Liquor and Lottery Corporation has control.
  • Minimum age: 19

 

Prince Edward Island 

While the public possession limit under federal law is 30 grams, there is no limit on how much cannabis people can keep in their private dwelling in good old PEI.

  • Legal consumption: You can consume cannabis in a private home and the yard attached to a private home. You can also indulge in your Spinach™ on vacant land with permission from the land owner. Never hurts to ask!
  • Cannabis at festivals: Not permitted.
  • Where to buy: There are four cannabis retail stores in Prince Edward Island in O'Leary, Summerside, Charlottetown and Montague.
  • Distribution: PEI Cannabis has control.
  • Minimum Age: 19

 

Ontario 

Ontario’s cannabis laws were largely based on extensive public and stakeholder engagement about how, where and who can buy and possess cannabis in the province.

  • Legal consumption: You're allowed to smoke in various places including many outdoor spaces like parks, designated smoking guest rooms, residential vehicles and certain care homes. There may be additional restrictions in municipal bylaws. See the full list of rules here.
  • Cannabis at festivals: Cannabis can be consumed if the event rules and public space venue allow it
  • Where to buy: People 19 and over are only able to purchase cannabis online through the Ontario Cannabis Store. Private retail model for cannabis will launch on April 1, 2019.
  • Distribution: Controlled by the Liquor and Control Board of Ontario.
  • Minimum age: 19

 

Quebec 

Quebec has one of the strictest laws in Canada on cannabis consumption and many municipalities have additional bylaws about its use. Be careful! 

  • Legal consumption: In most parts of Quebec, people can consume cannabis in the same places where you can smoke cigarettes. See the full list of rules here.
  • Cannabis at festivals: Many places are not permitted especially if there are minors around in public spaces.
  • Where to buy: Only Société des alcools du Québec is authorized to sell cannabis in Quebec.
  • Distribution: Provincial government has control.
  • Minimum age: 18

 

Labrador and Newfoundland 

Labrador and Newfoundland closely follow the federal cannabis rules. If you were thinking about consuming cannabis at a festival, think twice.

  • Legal consumption: You can consume cannabis in a private dwelling or a yard attached to a private dwelling. Depending on the restrictions set by the building owner or operator, people may be able to consume cannabis in hotel rooms, units in apartment buildings or a rented campsite.
  • Cannabis at festivals: Not permitted.
  • Where to buy: Cannabis NL is Newfoundland and Labrador’s only legal site for purchasing non-medical Cannabis. Retail locations are managed through licensed retailers by the Labrador and Newfoundland Liquor Corporation.
  • Distribution: Labrador and Newfoundland Liquor Corporation has control.
  • Minimum Age: 19

 

New Brunswick 

The government of New Brunswick focuses educating the public about responsible use of cannabis. Since Spinach™ has to stay on privately owned property, you could always put on some Rock Band and organize festival at your house.

  • Legal consumption: You can consume cannabis in a private dwelling or land adjacent to a private dwelling like a backyard. If you're consuming in another residence, you have to get permission from the home-owner. After all, that is the polite thing to do. 
  • Cannabis at festivals: Not permitted.
  • Where to buy: The only legal place to buy cannabis is through Cannabis NB, a subsidiary of the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation. People can also order online through Cannabis NB.
  • Distribution: Managed by the Cannabis Management Corporation.
  • Minimum Age: 19

 

Conclusion
Right now, British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario allow the most options to consume in designated public areas. 

If you're planning to go to some amazing festivals, check the event rules to make sure you’re allowed to pack your Spinach™. Even if you’re in the clear with provincial laws and municipal laws, event organizers will have their own restrictions.

 

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