On October 17, 2018 Canada became the second country in the world to legalize marijuana (Uruguay was the first). Online sales of marijuana are now available throughout Canada via private online retailers and government run websites.
Each Canadian province sets its own age limits and retail models. Most provinces mirror their liquor laws in terms of minimum age and other requirements. In British Columbia, for example, the minimum age for purchase is 19; and marijuana can be purchased from a government online site with delivery by Canada Post. Both government and private retail marijuana stores are allowed in B.C., although there is only one store currently open – a B.C. provincial store in Kamloops. More stores are in the works, however, as there are 173 applications pending for additional retail stores in the province.
Private and public retailers will be allowed to sell dried cannabis, cannabis oils, capsules and seeds that comply with federal requirements. Retailers may also sell cannabis accessories like rolling papers, pipes and bongs. Similar to Washington State, marijuana cannot be consumed in a car, around children (i.e. schools, playgrounds, and parks), or wherever tobacco is restricted. Unlike Washington State, however, most provinces allow adults to possess up to four plants per household.
What is important for Washington State residents to understand is that you cannot and absolutely should not cross the U.S./Canada border with marijuana. Despite its legalization in Washington and other states, marijuana remains illegal under U.S. laws. Thus, Canadians are still prohibited from bringing marijuana into the U.S. and similarly, U.S. travelers into Canada are prohibited from bringing marijuana across the U.S. border.
Now that marijuana is legal in Canada, a big issue for those involved in the Canadian industry is whether their cannabis business ties will preclude entry into the U.S. The question is whether U.S. border guards will start questioning travelers about their cannabis use and whether they are employed in the cannabis industry. Obviously, this situation at the border will remain a delicate one until the U.S. legalizes marijuana on the national level.
The effect of Canada’s marijuana legalization on Washington State’s marijuana market remains uncertain. Washington State recently proposed rules that would further limit foreign (i.e. Canadian) investment. If passed, this rule would further limit the availability of capital to struggling Washington State marijuana businesses. Clearly, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board is concerned about further federal scrutiny of its legal marijuana industry.
But, with pot legal across the border and in more and more states in the U.S., it would appear that there will be increased pressure for the U.S. to decriminalize and regulate marijuana as a business commodity. Stay tuned to this blog for further developments in marijuana law both across the border and here in Washington State.
For more information on the regulation of marijuana businesses in Washington State, please contact Heather Wolf.