What Canadians Need to Know About Cannabis

What Canadians Need to Know About Cannabis

Recreational cannabis became legal in Canada on October 17, 2018, but Canadians are feeling dazed and confused about what the changes mean.

While some people might think Canadians are a mellow bunch – sitting around cracking jokes about stocks in snack foods going up – many Canadians are unclear about some basic facts about the drug as well as the laws around the legalization and regulation of cannabis in Canada. Nationally, there are differences between the provinces/territories when it comes to what is and what is not legal in each jurisdiction.

Allstate commissioned a survey* that was conducted by The Nielsen Company to find out what Canadians know, or don’t know, when it comes to the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada.

Key findings of the survey conducted by The Nielsen Company:

  • 1 in 4 (25%) Ontarians surveyed say the approved legal age to buy recreational cannabis in Ontario is 18, when this is only true in the provinces of Alberta and Quebec. The legal age in Ontario is 19+.
  • 38% of Canadians surveyed from Quebec say Quebecers are allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants per household, however the provincial governments in Quebec and Manitoba have banned home-grows.
  • 66% of Canadians surveyed say they are concerned Canadian roads will be less safe now that recreational cannabis is legal
  • Just over half of Canadians surveyed (53%) say that you cannot consume any cannabis product before driving. This is correct, but it’s concerning that only half of respondents feel this way.
  • Almost half (49%) of Canadians surveyed do not believe that roadside tests have been implemented to catch drug-impaired drivers. The fact is that they have.

It is no surprise that people are unsure about cannabis as the laws are new and vary from province to province.

As drivers and homeowners, it is important to feel safe both at home and on the road. To help clear the fog, we consulted with our longtime partner MADD Canada and also reviewed information provided by the Government of Canada to offer you some important facts.

5 things Canadians should know about recreational cannabis legalization:

  1. The legal age for buying and consuming cannabis varies from province to province. In a majority of the provinces/territories, it’s 19+, with the exception of Alberta and Quebec, where the legal age is currently 18+. Users should also do their due diligence when travelling so that they are well informed as to what the legal age to possess cannabis is in the countries they are visiting outside Canada. Purchasers and users should also be aware that it is illegal to carry cannabis while travelling outside Canadian borders.
  2. Some Canadians can grow a limited number of plants in their home for recreational use, but the law varies based on provincial/territorial jurisdiction. In a majority of the provinces/territories, users can grow up to four plants at home; in Quebec and Manitoba, zero plants can legally be grown at home due to provincial laws; and in Nunavut, the territorial government may put additional restrictions in place by drafting further regulations.
  3. Thanks to Bill C-46, roadside strategies and tools have been implemented to test suspected drug-impaired drivers. If police have reasonable suspicion that a driver is impaired by drugs, they can demand the driver complete a standardized field sobriety test (SFST) or a Drug Recognition Evaluation (DRE) or provide an oral saliva sample. Oral saliva testing devices are newly authorized for use by police under Bill C-46. To learn more about drug-impaired driving laws, sanctions and penalties, read MADD’s overview article. And remember, if you are out on the road and you spot what you suspect is an impaired driver, maintain a safe distance and don’t attempt to pass their vehicle. After pulling over safely, call 911 and alert the police. Give them as much information as possible, such as licence plate number, make, model, and colour of vehicle, and the direction the vehicle is travelling.
  4. Impaired is impaired. There is no “magic number” when it comes to what is considered a safe amount of cannabis to consume prior to driving. Like alcohol, cannabis effects each user differently. How long the effects last in any given person depends on a number of factors — weight, experience level, and how the drug is consumed. Cannabis use can reduce alertness, alter depth perception, impair concentration, slow reaction time, and affect motor skills. Mixing cannabis with alcohol greatly increases the negative impact on driving skills. Bottom line, impaired is impaired. Canadians should not drink and drive, and they should not drive high.
  5. For parents concerned that it will now be easier for younger teens to access cannabis, the Federal Government has stated that the two main goals for the legalization of recreational cannabis are:
    • To help prevent youth from accessing cannabis. Purchasers will be asked to show ID every time they try to buy from a legal outlet, It is an offense to sell cannabis to someone underage
    • To displace the illegal market and help protect public health and safety with product quality and safety requirements

    However, it will be important for parents to have conversations with their kids about cannabis as it will be more part of daily life.

    • Check out this guide for tips on how to talk to your teen
    • Find Allstate’s parent-teen driving contract template here

With legalization still fresh there will be more to learn in the months and years to come, and likely some fine-tuning along the way. Looking ahead into 2019, it is important to stay informed of new changes.

For more information on cannabis and driving you can also visit MADD Canada.


Do you have still have questions when it comes to cannabis? Include in the comments below.

*About the Research

The survey referenced herein was conducted online within Canada by The Nielsen Company on behalf of Allstate between October 15 and October 23, 2018. 1,093 Canadians ages 19+ were surveyed. The data were weighted by Region, Age and Gender where necessary to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the Canadian population aged 19 and over.