Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/2/2019 (233 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Dear Herb: Is it now legal to tip a delivery driver with weed, if the driver is above the legal age and no money is transferred?
People seem to appreciate being handed pre-rolled joints. — The Tipping Point
Dear Tipping: Ah, the timeless tradition of tipping the pizza guy with weed. I bet you're a popular customer among your local delivery drivers.
Can such a tip be given legally in post-legalization Canada? I think it could.
You've already identified two key legal issues that could arise with this kind of herbal tipping: first, the tip recipient's age. Both tipper and tippee would have to be old enough to legally possess cannabis — that's 18 years old in Alberta or Quebec, and 19 years old in all other provinces and territories. (Note that Quebec's government is currently working on a law that would raise the age for cannabis possession in that province to 21.)
Next, you mentioned that no money is changing hands in your hypothetical tipping scenario. That's another critical issue here, since the Cannabis Act makes it wholly illegal for an unlicensed individual to sell cannabis.
To your two legal criteria, I would add a few more: In order to keep this tip strictly above-board, the cannabis you're tipping with must be legal in origin. That means it was purchased from a government-licensed store, you grew it yourself within the boundaries of the law, or it was given to you legally by another adult who grew it legally. If not, it's illicit cannabis and isn't legal to possess.Advertisement
Also, for the delivery driver's sake, don't tip more than 30 grams of cannabis at once. If you did, the driver would be above the legal cannabis possession limit for a public place immediately upon leaving your property. (That said, I would love to see how a delivery driver reacts to a tip consisting of a 31-gram joint.)
I ran my armchair legal analysis by a real attorney, cannabis lawyer Matt Maurer of Torkin Manes. He emphasized that the entire food delivery transaction should be paid for in full before tipping with cannabis. Maurer said you absolutely shouldn't try to give a driver cannabis as compensation for the food itself, and you also shouldn't give the cannabis "as an inducement for something in the future, or compensation for something in the future — 'I'll give you this tip, but I expect my next pizza to be half off'."
Maurer also said a cannabis tipper should make it clear that they're giving the tip to the individual delivery driver, not to the company for which they deliver. That's because it's illegal for an adult to distribute cannabis to an organization under the Cannabis Act.
"But if it's just for them personally for a job well done, it doesn't seem on its face to violate the distribution rules, because you're not giving it to an organization, you're giving it to that person," said Maurer.
If you really want to make sure your cannabis tipping transaction is 100 per cent legal for both you and the delivery driver, you might also want to advise the driver to store their tip appropriately in their vehicle. That's a matter of provincial law — you can read the specifics in this previous Dear Herb column — but the upshot is that in most provinces, cannabis must inaccessible to drivers, usually in the vehicle's trunk.
Finally, I would offer a point of etiquette. I think tipping a delivery driver with cannabis is a lovely idea, but you should ask the driver if they actually want it first. If they don't have any use for a joint, it would be boorish not to give them a regular cash tip.
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