Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/12/2017 – that’s before recreational cannabis was legal in Canada, so language and information in the article may be dated.
Dear Herb: Once Canada legalizes weed across the nation, will I be able to bring an ounce of it from my friends on Vancouver Island back to Winnipeg with me on the airplane? After all, it is going to be legal coast-to-coast! — Just Asking, Winnipeg
Dear Just Asking: Between this and the questions in last week's edition of Dear Herb, it sounds like Canadians really, really want to travel with marijuana!
I "just asked" your question to Transport Canada, the federal agency that regulates this kind of thing. Their spokeswoman answered by email.
"Under the proposed Cannabis Act, it will be illegal to import into or export from Canada cannabis and cannabis products except under very specific circumstances," wrote the Transport Canada spokeswoman.
"Carrying any cannabis or cannabis products (legal or illegal) across Canada's borders will remain a serious criminal offence."
"The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority has a practice of calling police for illegal items or substances that are found during screening, which is being carried out to find items that pose a threat to aviation security. Upon coming into force of the Cannabis Act, adults in Canada will be allowed to legally possess up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis or equivalent in public."
CATSA is responsible for screening bags and making you take your shoes and belt off at airports and such. They're the folks who would probably find out if you're trying to take your stash on a plane.Advertisement
Right now, CATSA allows legal medical marijuana users to travel inside Canada with their medicine, as long as they have the documentation showing they're registered with the federal government. For that reason, I'm guessing that CATSA will allow Canadian air travellers to travel within Canada with cannabis after legalization. (I also put this question directly to CATSA, but they just referred me to Transport Canada.)
I ain't no lawyer, Just Asking. But reading between the lines of Transport Canada's response — and taking into account CATSA's current position on legal, medical marijuana — it sounds like Canadians might indeed be allowed to travel with cannabis on a domestic flight after legalization.
You specifically asked about "an ounce" of weed, and it definitely seems like you wouldn't be able to travel with much more than that. An ounce is roughly 28.5 grams, and the federal cannabis bill sets a personal possession limit of 30 grams.
One possible catch: the federal legislation specifies that Canadians will be allowed to posses cannabis, up to the 30-gram limit, "in a public place." But do airports count as public spaces?
The legislation says a public place "includes any place to which the public has access as of right or by invitation, express or implied, and any motor vehicle located in a public place or in any place open to public views." That sounds like it would include an airport, but the way many airports are owned and operated it's not crystal clear. I'll look into that and get back to you, Just Asking.
Finally, remember: this would only apply "coast-to-coast" within Canada, as you said. Bringing your friend's crop on an international flight would definitely be a one-way ticket to illegaltown, even after legalization.
Dear Herb: I'm not interested in smoking, but I’ve heard you can eat cannabis, like in brownies and gummy bears. When marijuana is legalized next year will I be able to buy pot in food? Does it work the same as smoking pot? — Got the Munchies, Medicine Hat
Dear Munchies: You heard right. Cannabis-infused food products are definitely a thing (as are beverages, for that matter). These products are usually called "edibles" — perhaps not the most interesting name, but at least it's descriptive.
Unfortunately for you, Munchies, commercially produced edibles will not be available for sale immediately after legalization.
Health Canada, the federal department that's responsible for regulating legal cannabis, is taking extra time to develop regulations for edibles. According to the government's recently-released draft regulations for legal cannabis, regulations for sales of edibles will be developed within a year of the enactment of legalization.
That said, you can still try edibles legally after legalization kicks in next year! The catch is, you'll have to make them yourself. For that, I refer you you my good friend Mr. Google. There are also plenty of Facebook groups with information about making edibles, not to mention actual books made of paper and words and often delicious-looking pictures.
You also asked if edibles "work the same as smoking pot."
When you smoke marijuana, the psychoactive chemicals are absorbed into your bloodstream through your lungs. Usually, cannabis smokers feel the effects pretty quickly, which helps them know when it's time to put the bong down and take a break.
Edible cannabis, however, has to be processed through your digestive system, meaning it takes much longer for users to feel the effects (the exact time depends on the dose and the user's individual metabolism). That makes it hard for novices to adjust the dose as needed, and relatively easy to consume too much.
For that reason, the usual mantra among edible cannabis connoisseurs is "start low, go slow."
Experienced users recommend trying a small amount, waiting a few hours to see how you feel, then deciding whether you want more.
If an inexperienced user scarfs down a whole cannabis brownie, then gobbles up another 30 minutes later because they "don't feel anything," they're just asking for a bad trip.
If you're worried about the complexities of making your own edibles, I recommend waiting until the government opens up the market to commercial sales. Those mass-produced products will almost certainly have some kind of standardized dosage recommendation, which should make it easier to avoid an unpleasant experience.
Got a question about cannabis? Herb answers your questions about legal consumption and growing, the law, etiquette — you name it, he'll look into it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or to submit anonymously, fill out the form below: