What are the Rules for Using and Buying Marijuana in Ontario?

As of October 17, 2018 it is legal to buy, use and possess recreational marijuana (cannabis) in Canada. Each province has its own set of rules pertaining to buying and using marijuana. 

In Ontario, a lot of the laws around the use and purchase of marijuana are similar to the province’s alcohol and tobacco laws.

Who Can Buy it?

You must be 19 years or older to buy, use, possess and grow recreational marijuana. It is a criminal offence to share marijuana with minors.

Where Can I Buy it?

You’ll be able to buy up to 30 grams (about one ounce) of dried recreational marijuana at one time for personal use at the Ontario Cannabis Store either online or in person.

The Ontario Cannabis Store along with designated retail stores are the only pace that can legally sell recreational cannabis and follow strict rules set by the federal government. Buying it from unauthorized people other than the government-approved stores, will still be considered illegal.

Each municipality across Ontario has the right to decide where and if they want retail stores in their city or town.

You'll be able to grow up to four plants per residence (not per person) and will be able to purchase legal seeds and seedlings from the Ontario Cannabis Store.

Where Can I Use it?  

If you are caught in public with possession of marijuana you will be allowed to have up to 30 grams (about one ounce) of dried marijuana on you at any time.  

You will only be able to use it in:

  • a private residence (your home or someone else’s), including the outdoor space (for example, a porch or back yard)
  • your unit or on your balcony, if you live in a multi-unit building like an apartment or condo (depending on your building’s rules or your lease agreement)
  • many outdoor public places (parks, sidewalks)

You’re not allowed to use it in:

  • private residences like long-term care homes and retirement homes
  • schools or places where children gather (parks, playgrounds, childcare centres)
  • workplaces
  • motorized vehicles or while driving
  • publicly owned places (sports field
  • restaurant and bar patios
  • sheltered outdoor areas where public frequents (bus shelters)

These rules are in place to protect people from second-hand marijuana smoke, and reduce youth and young adult exposure to cannabis.

If you are caught using marijuana in public you can be fined of up to:

  • $1,000 for a first offence
  • $5,000 for repeat offences

Driving Under the Influence

It is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs just like it’s illegal to drink and drive. Marijuana, like many other drugs, decreases your reaction time and increases your chances of being in a car accident.

If you are found to be impaired by marijuana, or nay drug, you will face serious penalties, including:

  • immediate licence suspension
  • fines (money penalties)
  • possible vehicle impoundment
  • possible criminal record
  • possible jail time

Police officers will be authorized to use breathalyser-type devices on the roadside to measure your level of intoxication under marijuana use. Once a federally approved device is available, the devices will be used to help police enforce the law.

Learn more about the different offenses and penalties for impaired driving from the Ministry of Transportation.

Zero Tolerance

If you are driving a motorized vehicle as a first-time, novice or commercial driver you will not be allowed to have any marijuana in your system (as detected by a federally approved oral fluid screening device) if you:

  • are 21 or under
  • have a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence
  • are driving vehicle that requires an A-F driver’s licence or Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR)
  • are driving a road-building machine

What are the Health Risks?

Like alcohol and tobacco, marijuana has some health risks.

In adults, marijuana affects brain function at any age. This includes impacts on:

  • attention
  • memory
  • learning

The younger you are when you begin marijuana use and the more often and longer you use it, the more likely it will impact your brain. Your brain does not stop developing until around 25 years of age.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not use marijuana, it poses a risk to the fetus or newborn child. Heavy marijuana use has been linked to lower birth weight and exposure to THC (or "tetrahydrocannabinol" - the chemical responsible for most of the psychological effects) can affect a baby’s brain development.

While the research so far is inconclusive there are some other findings of the effects of THC on babies. If you are a mother who used marijuana during pregnancy, your child could have:

  • memory or attention problems
  • problems controlling impulses
  • issues with school performance

Travelling with Marijuana 

The legalization of marijuana in Canada will not change Canada’s border rules and it is still illegal to bring marijuana products into or out of the country. You could face serious criminal charges if you try to bring cannabis goods into Canada.

This also applies if you are travelling from or to another country that has legalized or decriminalized marijuana.

Just because marijuana is legal in Canada it does not mean that the same laws apply when travelling abroad. When you visit another country you are still subject to the laws of that country. Make sure you do your research and find out what the rules are for that country before you visit.

Your Canadian citizenship does not give you immunity or preferential treatment in other countries. If you have previously used drugs, including marijuana after it becomes legal in Canada, you may still be denied entry to a country.

Most countries, including the United States, have a zero-tolerance policy with respect to illegal drugs, including possession and use. Very severe penalties are imposed for the possession of even a small quantity.

Travelling to the United States

Even if you are travelling to a state where marijuana is legal, it is still illegal to bring cannabis goods across the U.S.- Canada border. You could be denied entry into the U.S. if you are found to be in possession and face legal charges and even jail time.

To learn more about marijuana and international travel visit the Cannabis and International Travel  from the Government of Canada website.

For More Information

Consultation Paper: Legalization of Cannabis in Ontario -  A report on the public consultation conducted by the Government of Ontario to determine how to regulate marijuana. From the Government of Ontario website. 

Cannabis – Get all the facts on marijuana from the Government of Canada website.

Alcohol, Drugs and Travel  - Offers information and advice to help you understand the risks related to drugs and travel. From the Government of Canada.

Last updated: June 19, 2019 4006332