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Cannabis Act
Parliament of Canada
  • An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts
Passed byHouse of Commons
PassedJune 19, 2018
Enacted bySenate
Royal assentJune 21, 2018
EffectiveOctober 17, 2018
Legislative history
First chamber: House of Commons
Bill titleC-45
Introduced byJody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice
First readingApril 13, 2017
Second readingJune 8, 2017
Third readingNovember 27, 2017
Committee reportReport 12[1]
Second chamber: Senate
Bill titleC-45
First readingNovember 28, 2017
Second readingMarch 22, 2018
Third readingJune 7, 2018
Status: In force

The Cannabis Act[a] (French: Loi sur le cannabis, also known as Bill C-45) is a law which legalized recreational cannabis use in Canada in combination with its companion legislation Bill C-46, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code.[2] The law is a milestone in the legal history of cannabis in Canada, alongside the 1923 prohibition.

The bill was passed by the House of Commons in late November 2017,[3] and in the Senate on June 7, 2018, and the House accepted some Senate amendments and sent the bill back to the Senate on June 18.[4][5] The Senate then passed the final version of the bill on June 19,[6][7] and it received Royal Assent on June 21.[8] Canada is the second country in the world to legalize recreational cannabis nationwide after Uruguay.

History leading up to act

The Liberal Party proposed legalization in 2012,[9] and it was a major campaign platform for Justin Trudeau who became Prime Minister in 2015.[10] Shortly after election, the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation was convened to study the issue. They released a report on December 13, 2016.[11] On April 10, 2017, CBC News and sources in other countries reported that the Liberals intended to table legislation by April 13, in time for it to be considered prior to the 420 "holiday".[12][13][14] A legalization date prior to July 1, 2018 was set to avoid Canada Day.[15] Canadian policy makers considered regulations and laws around legalized cannabis in Colorado, Washington and Uruguay as a model.[16]

Act and its provisions

The bill was sponsored by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (pictured in 2014).
Map showing which MP's voted in favour or against the Act by party affiliation
Map showing which MP's voted in favour (green), against (red), abstained (grey) or whether the seat was vacant (black)

On April 13, 2017, Bill C-45, with the short title Cannabis Act, was introduced to Parliament, sponsored by Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. It allowed for national use by individuals aged 18 and over, and possession of 30 grams. Provinces may further restrict possession, sale and use. Legal sales take place at retail outlets or through the mail.[17][18] The provinces are responsible for setting up a system for retail sales. Mail delivery will be handled by the federal government.[19] The bill was said on April 14, 2017 to have a solid majority of support from the governing Liberal Party and the opposition Conservative and New Democratic parties.[20]

Personal production: Individuals are permitted to grow up to four plants for their own use. While the sale of edibles (baked goods, drinks, etc.) will not be allowed initially, individuals can make edibles at home for their own use.[21]

Promotion and packaging: Companies are allowed to brand their products, but they must avoid anything that would appear to appeal directly to youth such as cartoon characters, animals, or celebrity endorsements. Event sponsorship is also not allowed. Companies can also use factual information on their packaging, such as THC levels, that would help consumers make a decision on what product to buy. Promotion is only allowed in places where youth cannot view it.[19]

Revenue projections

Tax revenue to the national treasury was projected in 2017 to be upwards of $675 million a year.[22]


National legalization of cannabis north of the Canada–United States border is expected to create a competitive pressure for the United States to legalize at the federal level, lest consumers divert billions of dollars of revenue outside of the country.[20]

Many were disappointed that the legislation did not contain plans to expunge the criminal records of persons charged with simple possession. This means that anyone with a record for possessing under 30 grams will still need to petition a Record Suspension after a five-year waiting period.[23] This led some activists to believe that the legalization is not "true legalization" [24] and does not help people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.[25]

A satirical reaction in The Beaverton, an online Canadian publication, said that legalization would make cannabis "shittier and harder to get" in a country where it is already plentiful.[26] Canoe.com editorialized that the bill was rushed and failed to address concerns of the black market and did not set limits for legal impairment for motor vehicle operators.[27]

During the Lac St. Jean byelection, the debate over legalization was an issue. The Bloc Québécois candidate Marc Maltais expressed concerns over the bill's ability to respect provincial jurisdiction. The NDP candidate felt that the July 1 deadline was too fast for legalization to be implemented.[28]

A lawyer said that the ticketing provision in the Act could likely "violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."[25]

Final implementation

After being passed by the House of Commons, the bill was sent to the Senate. On June 1, 2018, the Senate passed an amendment to C-45 outlawing cannabis "brand-stretching". The amendment, which passed 34–28,[29] outlaws the sale and display of cannabis-related merchandise and makes it difficult to publicly promote cannabis once legalized.[29][30] However, this amendment was rejected by the Liberal government when the bill was returned to the House of Commons and does not appear in the final version of C-45 that received Royal Assent.[31]

On June 19, 2018, the Senate passed the bill and the prime minister announced the effective legalization date as October 17, 2018.[32] Canada is the second country (after Uruguay) to legalize the drug.[33]

As expected, the use of cannabis for recreational purposes became legal across the country on October 17, 2018, under the Cannabis Act.[34] Persons aged 18 or older can possess up to 30 grams of dried or “equivalent non-dried form” in public. Adults are also allowed to make cannabis-infused food and drinks "as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products." Each household is allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants from "licensed seed or seedlings". In response, the National Assembly of Quebec passed legislation that created a provincial monopoly on the sale of cannabis, as well as prohibiting the possession of cannabis plants and their cultivation for personal purposes in a dwelling‑house.[b] The Legislative Assembly of Manitoba passed similar legislation.[c] In April 2023, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Murray‑Hall v Quebec (Attorney General) that such measures were a valid exercise of provincial jurisdiction.

Each province set its own procedures for retail sales, and these vary as to the ownership of retail stores (government or private enterprise) but all provinces decided to offer an option for online sales.[36]

Since cannabis is illegal in the U.S. per federal legislation, the government warned that "previous use of cannabis, or any substance prohibited by U.S. federal laws, could mean that you are denied entry to the U.S". Canadians travelling within the country (but not internationally) are allowed to carry up to 30 grams of cannabis. Driving under the influence of drugs remained illegal. [37][38]


By 2022, the cannabis industry in Canada has contributed $43.5 billion to Canada's GDP, according to Deloitte Canada. It has also created 98,000 jobs and paid over $15 billion in taxes.[39]

See also

By province or territory


  1. ^ Full title: An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts
  2. ^ An Act to constitute the Société québécoise du cannabis, to enact the Cannabis Regulation Act and to amend various highway safety-related provisions, L.Q. 2018, c. 19 , of which Part II enacted the Cannabis Regulation Act.[35]
  3. ^ The Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Act, CCSM , c. L153 , as enacted by The Safe and Responsible Retailing of Cannabis Act (Liquor and Gaming Control Act and Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation Act Amended), S.M. 2018, c. 9


  1. ^ "HESA - Bill C-45, Cannabis Act". www.ourcommons.ca. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  2. ^ "gnb.ca: "Report of the New Brunswick Working Group on the Legalization of Cannabis"" (PDF). gnb.ca. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  3. ^ "Federal marijuana legislation approved by House of Commons, moves on to Senate". The Globe and Mail. November 27, 2017. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  4. ^ Senate votes to pass recreational legalization of pot, bill now goes back to House of Commons, CBC News, June 7, 2018
  5. ^ Anapol, Avery (June 18, 2018). "Canada's House of Commons votes to legalize marijuana". The Hill. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  6. ^ "Senate passes cannabis legalization bill in final vote". CTVNews. June 19, 2018. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  7. ^ "Marijuana legalization Bill C-45 officially passes Senate vote, heading for royal assent". Global News. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  8. ^ "Senate House of Commons". Parliament of Canada. June 21, 2018. Retrieved March 8, 2021.
  9. ^ News, Postmedia (January 15, 2012). "Liberal delegates vote yes to legalizing marijuana, no to cutting off monarchy". National Post. Retrieved March 31, 2022. {{cite news}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  10. ^ Jacob Sullum (October 30, 2015), "Canada is on the brink of making marijuana legal", Newsweek, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, Canada's new prime minister, ran on a promise to legalize marijuana.
  11. ^ A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada (Report). Government of Canada. November 30, 2016.
  12. ^ Catherine Cullen (April 10, 2017), It could be legal to carry up to 30 grams of marijuana under bill to be tabled Thursday: Highly anticipated pot plans will be made public on Thursday, CBC
  13. ^ Joel Connelly (April 11, 2017), "Marijuana legalization gets off the pot in Canada: Legislation to come Thursday", Seattle Post-Intelligencer – via San Francisco Chronicle
  14. ^ Janice Williams (April 10, 2017), "Canada is introducing marijuana legislation on Thursday which could lead to legalization by July 2018", Newsweek
  15. ^ David Cochrane (April 8, 2017), Liberals want to move up pot legalization to avoid Canada Day celebrations: Legalization target of July 1, 2018 will be changed to 'on or before July 1, 2018', CBC News
  16. ^ Jillian Kestler-D'Amours (April 12, 2017), Canada set to legalize recreational marijuana, Germany: Deutsche Welle
  17. ^ Kathleen Harris (April 13, 2017), Liberals table bills to legalize pot, clamp down on impaired driving, CBC News
  18. ^ Ian Austen (April 13, 2017), "Trudeau Unveils Bill Legalizing Recreational Marijuana in Canada", The New York Times
  19. ^ a b "Introduction of the Cannabis Act: Questions and Answers". Government of Canada. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  20. ^ a b Christopher Ingraham (April 14, 2017), "Digging into the details of Canada's new law legalizing marijuana nationwide", The Washington Post – via Denver Post's The Cannabist
  21. ^ The Cannabis Act - Marijuana Legalization and Regulation in Canada, MarijuanaLaws.ca, archived from the original on October 5, 2017, retrieved September 28, 2017
  22. ^ Tamara Khandaker (April 11, 2017), A new report suggests Canada will rake in at least $675-million a year from taxing legal weed, Vice News
  23. ^ Scotti, Monique (March 27, 2017). "As pot legalization looms, will police keep making arrests?". Corus Entertainment Inc. Global News. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  24. ^ "Famous Canadians share their optimistic predictions for 2018 - Macleans.ca". Macleans.ca. November 30, 2017. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  25. ^ a b "Lawyer warns cannabis bill is constitutionally flawed and harmful - The Lawyer's Daily". www.thelawyersdaily.ca. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  26. ^ Tristan Bradley (March 2017), Liberals plan legislation to make marijuana shittier, harder to get, The Beaverton
  27. ^ "Rushed pot law could have organized crime lighting up", Canoe.com, April 12, 2017, archived from the original on April 15, 2017, retrieved April 12, 2017, In their madness to table reefer legislation, the Trudeau Liberals had to jump the gun on 4/20.
  28. ^ ICI.Radio-Canada.ca, Zone Société -. "Cannabis : qu'en pensent les candidats dans Lac-Saint-Jean?". Radio-Canada.ca (in Canadian French). Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  29. ^ a b Duggan, Kyle (June 1, 2018). "Senate votes to ban company branded cannabis swag". iPolitics.
  30. ^ Aiello, Rachel (June 4, 2018). "Timeline of key events in marijuana bill's passage through Parliament". CTV News.
  31. ^ "Motions Respecting Senate Amendments to Bills". Parliament of Canada. June 18, 2018.
  32. ^ Scott, Monique (June 20, 2018). "Marijuana to be legal in Canada starting October 17, Trudeau confirms". Global News.
  33. ^ Sapra, Bani (June 20, 2018). "Canada becomes second nation in the world to legalize marijuana". CNN.
  34. ^ "The Cannabis Act: The Facts". Health Canada. Government of Canada. June 20, 2018. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  35. ^ Cannabis Regulation Act, CQLR , c. C-5.3
  36. ^ "Canada's Approach to Legalization and Regulation by Province". Pot By Province. October 17, 2018. Archived from the original on January 21, 2019. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  37. ^ "Marijuana is legal everywhere across Canada now". Inside Halton. Metroland News. October 17, 2018. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  38. ^ "Cannabis is legal in Canada — here's what you need to know". CBC News. CBC. October 17, 2018. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  39. ^ "Cannabis has contributed $43.5 billion to Canada's GDP since legalization: report". The Canadian Press. February 1, 2022 – via CTV News.

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