Oh, Cannabis! How Legalization Has Shaped Canada in 2019 | Drug Possession Lawyer, Toronto

October 17, 2018, was a red letter day for Canada.  This was the day that marijuana for both recreational and medicinal purposes was legalized across the nation, making Canada only the 2nd country in the world (after Uruguay) to officially legalize the possession, consumption, and cultivation of the drug.


The laws surrounding cannabis legalization are still somewhat hazy in 2019, so if you find yourself facing a drug-related charge, we strongly recommend that seek out legal representation right away.  John Erickson is a criminal defense lawyer in Toronto who has over 20 years of experience successfully defending individuals charged with drug-related offenses.


So how do you toe the line? In this article, we explore new trends that have emerged in the cannabis market and how to remain compliant with all relevant laws.


Drivers Will Soon Face Stricter Drug Detection Tests


The federal government is in the process of approving a 2nd roadside drug detection device that will be able to determine the level of cannabis impairment via saliva samples.


The new device, dubbed SoToxa, is slated to be on the amended list of approved drug screening equipment in Canada. The primary SoToxa device will also come with a test cartridge and a saliva collection device.


These devices will be used to check for THC which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. If the device indicates a positive result, this will act as a strong sign of recent drug use.


The device is in the middle of a 30-day consultation prior to being approved, and if approved, will provide police with an effective way to test potentially drug-impaired drivers.


As of right now, the Dräger DrugTest 5000 is being used by police to test for both THC and cocaine on the road. However, some speculation as to its functionality has arisen as well as how effective it is in colder weather.  Currently, it is the only device that is available to law enforcement.


The overarching aim of these devices is to enforce stringent intoxication checks making it illegal to drive within 2 hours of being over the legal limit. So what is the legal limit for drug driving? If you test above 5 ng of cannabis or over 2.5 ng along with a blood alcohol level over 50 milligrams per 100 mL, you may face significant penalties and mandated jail time for repeat offenders.


It’s important to know your rights! A positive drug result on the roadside test is not enough to warrant a charge.  Instead, drivers who fail this initial test will be subjected to a blood test.


Watch Out For Illegal Pot Shops


Toronto has been on the radar ever since the nationwide cannabis legalization and, as it turns out, that extra scrutiny hasn’t been in vain. As of April 2019, about 21 illegal marijuana storefronts are being investigated by police, resulting in 41 charges. Police are in the midst of seizing dry cannabis, edibles, oils, and cash and are shutting down unauthorized locations for up to 2 years.


Owners of unlicensed pot shops can face fines soaring as high as $250,000 and a two-year jail sentence. Landlords are warned to keep a strict eye open to avoid renting their space to illegal dispensaries.


Additionally, corporations dispensing the drug illegally can be penalized anywhere between $25,000 to $1 million. The law draws a very clear line.  Ontario has 25 licensed retail pot stores with five of them being in Toronto.


So how do you identify legal cannabis products? These will have an excise stamp on the package that has security features to offset forgery (similar to banknotes and passports). Each territory and jurisdiction has with its own unique coloured stamp.


Moreover, legal products will also have a standardized cannabis symbol that contains health warnings to educate users on usage risks.


Edible Cannabis, Cannabis Extracts, and Cannabis Tropicals Are NOT Legal Yet


The age limit to purchase the drug varies from province to province.  The minimum age in most province is 18 years but in Ontario, it is 19 years.  But bear in mind that purchases can only be made from an authorized dealer and are restricted to dried and fresh cannabis, cannabis oils, and seeds or plants to be cultivated.  Other products such as edible cannabis, cannabis extracts, and cannabis tropicals will legally be sold with effect from October 17, 2019.


Facing a Drug Charge? Immediate Legal Intervention is Crucial!


A drug offense could negatively impact your personal and professional life. John Erickson is a senior criminal lawyer with nearly two decades of experience defending individuals convicted of drug offenses.


Call (416) 363 3612 today for affordable and reliable legal representation.