Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/2/2018 – that’s before recreational cannabis was legal in Canada, so language and information in the article may be dated.
Dear Herb: If and when Ontario opens a pot shop near me, can I drive home with pot? — Buckled Up and Ready for Legalization
Dear Buckled Up: Thanks for the great question.
Different provinces and territories are establishing their own laws about transporting cannabis in motor vehicles after legalization. I'll give you an overview of what we know so far about legal cannabis transportation in Ontario, B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, P.E.I. and the Northwest Territories.
Let's start with your home province of Ontario, which passed its provincial Cannabis Act in December.
Under that law, it will be illegal to operate a motor vehicle or boat that contains cannabis in Ontario unless the cannabis "is packed in baggage that is fastened closed or is not otherwise readily available to any person in the vehicle or boat." If a police officer has "reasonable grounds to believe that cannabis is being contained in a vehicle or boat in contravention" of that rule, they'll be able to search the vehicle and everyone in it without a warrant.
In other words, you should be safe if your legally obtained weed is stored in its original packaging in the trunk of your car. Future provincial regulations could add requirements for transporting cannabis in vehicles in Ontario.
British Columbia hasn't passed its provincial cannabis law yet, but it did offer some details about the future transportation of legal cannabis in a February press release. According to that release, cannabis "transported in a motor vehicle will need to be in a sealed package, or inaccessible to vehicle occupants."Advertisement
The government of Alberta has already passed its Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis. That law states, "No person may transport cannabis in a vehicle unless the cannabis is contained in closed packaging that is out of reach of the driver and any other occupants of the vehicle."
Next up is Manitoba, which addressed the issue of transporting cannabis in detail in its Cannabis Harm Prevention Act. Manitobans will be able to transport cannabis in their vehicle if the cannabis is stored in the trunk, an exterior compartment or another area that's "not readily accessible."
In cars without a separate trunk (such as a station wagon or minivan) it will be legal to keep weed behind the rear of the last seat in the vehicle, "whether or not that seat is in an upright position." For RVs and motorhomes, it will be legal to keep cannabis stored in a cabinet or other compartment away from the driver's area. Manitobans travelling as passengers in taxis or other vehicles for hire, will be legally allowed to carry cannabis on their person or in their personal effects.
Prince Edward Island hasn't passed any weed legislation, but has released its provincial policy direction online. According to that document, Islanders will have to transport their stashes "in unopened packaging and, where an open package is being transported the product will be required to be secure and inaccessible to anyone in the vehicle."
Last but not least is the Northwest Territories, which has made its cannabis legalization framework available online.
"As is the case with liquor, cannabis in a vehicle must be unopened. Any opened cannabis must be resealed and placed in a space in the vehicle that is inaccessible to those in the vehicle, such as the trunk," says the framework.
The framework from Yukon territory states: "A person cannot possess cannabis in a vehicle unless it is in a closed container and is inaccessible to all people in the vehicle."
In Nunavut, a government proposal document states cannabis in vehicles "will need to be secured in closed packaging and not within reach of the driver or passengers."
We're still waiting to hear about future cannabis transportation rules in New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Quebec. I'm guessing the law in those provinces will be similar to all the others: if you want to drive home from the weed store, you'll likely be storing your purchases in the trunk.
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