In April 2017, the federal government introduced legislation to legalize and regulate recreational cannabis (also called marijuana) in Canada by July 2018.

If passed, the federal government’s proposed Cannabis Act, would regulate the production, distribution and possession of cannabis in Canada, among other things. Provinces and territories, meanwhile, must make important decisions on the use, sale and health and safety impacts of legalization. Provinces could also adjust or build on certain federal rules like raising the minimum age above 18.

About the consultation

The decisions being made about the legalization of cannabis are important to people across Ontario. We know that this change will impact everyone, not only cannabis users.

We want to hear from you to help understand how the federal government’s plan to legalize marijuana will impact Ontarians, and how Ontario can best respond to keep people safe.

We are looking for feedback in five key areas:

  1. Setting a minimum age for having, using and buying cannabis
  2. Regulating cannabis sales in Ontario
  3. Deciding where people can use cannabis
  4. Keeping our roads safe, and
  5. Planning public education.

Minimum age for having, using and buying cannabis

The federal government’s proposed Cannabis Act, states that people must be at least 18 years old to have and buy cannabis but provinces and territories would be allowed to raise the minimum age.

Health experts caution that cannabis may impact a person’s developing brain until the age of 25. At the same time, setting the minimum age too high could lead young people to continue relying on the illegal market

Discussion questions

  1. What are the most important things when it comes to setting the minimum age for having, using and buying cannabis?
  2. What are your views about raising the minimum age above 18?

Where people can use cannabis

The federal government’s proposed law places some restrictions on where people can use cannabis (e.g. federally-regulated spaces). Ontario must determine where people use cannabis in all other public places.

Currently in Ontario, there are rules about where people can use tobacco and alcohol For example, you cannot:

  • smoke tobacco in any enclosed workplace, enclosed public place, or in certain places outdoors (e.g. restaurant bars and patios, children’s playgrounds, school grounds), and
  • drink alcohol in public unless you are in a licensed place.

Discussion questions

  1. What are your views on restricting where people can use recreational cannabis in Ontario?
  2. Are there public places where people should not be able to use cannabis? (e.g. around schools or community centres, public parks, sidewalks, patios)
  3. When it comes to recreational cannabis use, should landlords and property managers be able to restrict tenants and condo owners from smoking cannabis in their units?
  4. When it comes to recreational use of cannabis, should condo boards or property management be able to restrict smoking cannabis in common spaces like rooftops, courtyards and balconies?

Keeping our roads safe

The federal government’s proposed law would introduce new drug-impaired driving offences and new tools to help police detect and investigate drug-impaired driving cases. In Ontario, drivers under the influence of drugs currently face the following:

  • a $198 penalty
  • an immediate licence suspension of three days for the first occurrence, seven days for the second and 30 days for the third and subsequent occurrences upon failure of a roadside sobriety test
  • a possible 90-day licence suspension and a seven-day vehicle impoundment following further testing by a drug recognition expert at a police station, and
  • mandatory education or treatment programs, installation of ignition interlock device in their vehicle, for drivers with two plus licence suspensions for alcohol/ drugs within a 10-year period.

In addition to these penalties, impaired driving can lead to criminal charges which could ultimately result in a loss of licence, additional fines and jail time.

Discussion questions

  1. Would you support the Ontario government putting in place more penalties (e.g. fines, demerit points) for drug-impaired driving?
  2. There are limitations on the ability of current technologies to test for cannabis impairment. Given these limitations, what penalties from above should Ontario consider strengthening?
  3. Are there any other measures you think the government should employ to keep our roads safe?
  4. Where do you think the government should prioritize its road safety funding to address drug-impaired driving? (e.g. technology development for cannabis testing, Increased RIDE programs, public education)

Selling and distributing cannabis

We’re working to develop a system for selling and distributing cannabis in the province, including strong health and safety rules, regulatory oversight, training requirements for staff, and enforcement.

Whether the sale and distribution of cannabis is run by the public (e.g. the government) or private sector (e.g. businesses), the government will oversight to make sure retailers are following the law.

Discussion questions

  1. Who should sell and distribute cannabis in Ontario?
  2. What public health and safety measures should Ontario put in place to restrict access for youth and promote public health?
  3. What is most important to you when it comes to the way cannabis is sold and distributed in Ontario?

Public education

In advance of legalization, both the federal and Ontario governments will take steps to educate the public about the changes so that that people can make informed decisions about cannabis use.

Public education campaigns could include topics like: drug-impaired driving laws, health risks, risk to youth, encouragement to use responsibly and not to use and drive etc.

  1. When it comes to the safe use of cannabis, what does the public need to be informed about?
  2. Which voices are the most important for people to hear these messages from (e.g. government, educators, health care professionals, police)?