Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/3/2018 – that’s before recreational cannabis was legal in Canada, so language and information in the article may be dated.
I've been overwhelmed with questions about home cultivation of non-medical cannabis over the last few weeks, so I thought I'd round up a few of them and answer them all in one go.
(If anyone from Health Canada's Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Secretariat happens to be reading this humble advice column: Canadians are desperate for official guidance on the future rules around home cultivation! Maybe the government could publish a comprehensive guide after the Cannabis Act is passed into law? There's a short FAQ available here, but I think we could use a lot more.)
Dear Herb: I'm wondering what the law is on seeds. Can you order seeds online or from a seed bank, in anticipation of growing once it becomes legal? — Curious Calyx
Dear Calyx: As your question suggests, there are lots of websites inside and outside Canada that are already selling mail-order cannabis seeds. But under the current law governing non-medical cannabis in Canada, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, possessing viable cannabis seeds is illegal. (That doesn't apply to registered medical cannabis users with the proper authorization to grow their own who can order seeds or clones from legal Canadian cannabis producers.)
The Cannabis Act, which is not yet law, will make it illegal for adults "to cultivate, propagate or harvest... a cannabis plant that is from a seed or plant material that they know is illicit cannabis."
In other words, if you know you're ordering cannabis seeds from an illegal source, and then you grow plants from those illegal seeds, you'll be breaking the law. A stockpile of seeds that are illegal before legalization would still be illegal after legalization.Advertisement
As far as the federal government is concerned, only seeds and clones sold legally — that is, sold by a legal producer of cannabis after legalization is enacted — will be legal for use in home cultivation of recreational cannabis.
How will the government be able to actually enforce that law, and check the origin of your cannabis seeds? I have absolutely no idea.
Dear Herb: OK — Given that only four plants will be allowed per household despite the number of adults living there, what if those adults are roommates?
For example: Jon, Jane and Jeff all pay an equal amount of rent, and all signed the lease together. If Jane starts growing four plants, would Jeff and Jon be prohibited from growing their own plants under the law?
What if they all start growing four plants each at the same time in separate rooms, and don't tell one another? Would they all breaking the law, or only two of them? Seems like it will be hard to fairly enforce such rules. — Hypothetical Harry
Dear Harry: I assume your hypothetical question is in response to last week's Dear Herb, which explored whether a married couple living under the same roof could cultivate more than four plants. (The answer: no.)
The answer for your hypothetical cannabis-cultivating roommates is the same. Here's the relevant language from the Cannabis Act once again:
"Unless authorized under this Act, if two or more individuals who are 18 years of age or older are ordinarily resident in the same dwelling-house, it is prohibited for any of those individuals to cultivate, propagate or harvest any cannabis plants if doing so results in there being more than four such plants being cultivated, propagated or harvested at any one time in the dwelling-house."
A "dwelling-house," as defined in the Criminal Code of Canada, is "the whole or any part of a building or structure that is kept or occupied as a permanent or temporary residence."
If Jon, Jane and Jeff are all living under the same roof, they're all living in one dwelling-house. The Cannabis Act is clear: you won't be able to grow more than four plants at once in a single dwelling-house, full stop (again, this wouldn't apply to certain registered medical cannabis users).
So, your three hypothetical roommates will be able to grow only four plants between them. But as long as Jon, Jane and Jeff are all adults, they could presumably share the crop amongst themselves.
Finally, I absolutely agree that it's going to be hard to enforce these rules.
Dear Herb: For people living in apartment buildings, will we be allowed to grow cannabis naturally without using power, only sunlight, like you would any other household plants? — Sunny Days
Dear Sunny: The Cannabis Act doesn't say anything about the method used to cultivate recreational cannabis plants at home. If your province and your landlord allow home cultivation after legalization, you can try to grow that weed any way you like -- unless the province or your landlord implement extra regulations regarding method of growing.
That said, a cannabis plant growing in your apartment window or balcony might not get enough natural light to yield much bud. (There's a reason people use high-powered grow lights.)
Dear Herb: Growing cannabis will continue to be illegal in my home province of Manitoba. Would there be consequences if someone living in a province where it is legal to grow their own four plants mailed me some of their home-grown? — Greg Who Can't Grow
Dear Greg: Under the Cannabis Act, Canadians aged 18 and up will be allowed to share — not sell — up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults. (Manitoba plans to set the legal age for cannabis possession at 19, by the way.)
As long as your out-of-province friend is growing their cannabis legally, and as long as you're not paying them, I don't see why they couldn't send you a care package.
Could they mail that package of bud? Legal cannabis for medical purposes is already being mailed across the country every day, and I expect Canada Post will update its rules on shipping drugs and controlled substances after legalization is enacted.
Just to be safe, your friend should ask their shipping company of choice about their rules for mailing cannabis after legalization.
Dear Herb: Screw the government, grow your own cure! — Rage Against the Regime
Dear Rage: That's not exactly a question, but thanks for sharing. Rage on, dude.
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