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Here’s what Vancouverites need to heed in light of legal weed

Where you can and can’t smoke, can you send pot in the mail, what to tell U.S. border guards and more
Non-medical cannabis becomes legal next week. The Courier has attempted to find out all the appropriate dos and don’ts prior to Oct. 17.

Mary Jane, cheeba, Maui Wowie, herb and so on.

There are lots of names for cannabis and, as it turns out, even more parameters around what you can and can’t do once non-medical weed becomes legal on Oct. 17.

The Courier reached out to everyone and anyone for answers: the city, province, Vancouver Police Department, the federal government, Canada Post and those in the legal community.

What came back was a mish-mash of answers. Many website links were provided, as were referrals to other agencies or levels of government.

In some instances, specifics were a little… hazy.

The following answers apply to non-medical cannabis and users over the age of 19.

Where can I smoke pot legally?

Pretty much anywhere people smoke tobacco or e-cigarettes — except in vehicles and on boats. The province’s regulations around a six-metre buffer near doorways and air intakes apply to pot as well. And when in doubt, make like Maude Flanders from The Simpsons and think of the children: don’t smoke pot on school properties, playgrounds, sports fields, skate parks and other places where children commonly gather. Beaches and parks are a no-go, given the Vancouver Park Board’s smoking ban. Provincial and regional parks are also out of the question unless designated areas are provided.

How much pot can I have in my house and/or single-family home?

Four plants can be grown per household, but can’t be visible from public spaces off of your property. But here’s the kicker: you can have up to 1,000 grams in your home at one time. That’s more than two pounds. Holy smokes, indeed. 

Can I grow/consume pot in my front yard?

Yes and yes, but with asterisks galore. If your front yard has a fence high enough to make your new garden invisible from public view, grow those four plants to your heart’s content. As for smoking, ensure you’ve got a six-metre buffer zone from nearby doors, windows and air intakes. And make sure you’re nowhere near kids.

Can I grow/consume pot in my condo/apartment? 

Renters in Vancouver can never catch a break. As if a one per cent vacancy rate wasn’t painful enough, chances are you can’t smoke or grow in your apartment. According to LandlordBC, pot smoking will be looked at the same way — you can’t do it — as cigarette smoking in tenancies where it’s already forbidden to smoke tobacco (read: pretty much everywhere). Tenancy agreements issued after Oct. 17 will have to include specific clauses preventing smoking. The same rules apply to growing. The laws will be retroactive to tenancy agreements entered into before Oct. 17, preventing tenants from growing. Tenancies after Oct. 17 will have to include clauses that specifically prohibit growing.

How much pot can I have on my person when I’m out in public?

Thirty grams.

Can I drive after smoking pot?

Hard no. Don’t even think about it. The penalties can be massive, punitive and include fines, licence and roadside prohibitions or even jail time. Some of these offences can go on your permanent record, which would severely inhibit your ability to travel internationally. VPD Const. Jason Doucette told the Courier the following on this point: “Drivers must not operate a motor vehicle while their ability is affected by a drug or alcohol. New drivers in the Graduated Licensing Program will be subject to a zero-tolerance restriction for presence of THC.”

We spoke to a Vancouver-based lawyer who dissected impending legalization and you can read that interview HERE

Can I smoke pot in the presence of minors?

The provincial legislation has all kinds of safeguards specifically to shelter kids from the kush. In this case, do the opposite of that timeless Nike slogan: just don’t do it.

Can I take pot on a flight to Moose Jaw or elsewhere in Canada?

Yes. Up to the allowable limit of 30 grams, which will inevitably make places such as Edmonton, Toronto or Prince George seem worth travelling to. That said, cannabis laws are different between provinces and territories: legal age, where you can smoke, consume and buy cannabis. Make sure to learn the laws before you fly the friendly skies.

Can I take pot on a flight to an American state where pot is legal?

Absolutely not.  Don’t even think about it, dream about it or even visualize it. Not even in states where cannabis is legal.

Can I take pot across the U.S. border, either in a car or train?

No. Don’t let flashbacks of Cheech and Chong’s van made of weed attempting to cross the Mexican border cloud your decision making here. This cannot be overstated enough.

Can I carry or smoke pot on my boat?

Mostly no, but sort of yes. The only exceptions are when you’re in an enclosed cabin on a commercially operated boat, or if you’re on a boat with sleeping accommodations, kitchen facilities and a toilet when moored or anchored.

Can I take pot on B.C. Ferries?

Yes. Travellers can carry up to the legal limit of 30 grams onboard. However, all terminals and vessels are smoke-free environments. That includes tobacco, e-cigarettes and cannabis. In other words, do what you need to do before arriving at a B.C. Ferries property.

Are other types of cannabis legal (edibles, extracts, shatter), and if not, when will they be? 

“Yes for possession. No for retail sales” is the response the Courier got from the VPD. The laws around edibles are likely to be more fully fleshed out next year.

Where can I legally purchase cannabis in Vancouver as of Oct. 17?

Nowhere. Seriously. Both the city and VPD have confirmed as much. “It is not expected at this time that any cannabis retail outlets will have completed the process to obtain a provincial and municipal licence to operate in Vancouver as of Oct. 17,” the city said in a statement to the Courier.

Can Canadians mail cannabis domestically?

Heck yes. Canada Post says licensed operators can mail product to users across the country so long as the recipient is of legal age. Can your cool uncle Frank in Saskatoon mail some OG Kush to you in Vancouver provided it’s less than 30 grams’ worth? Indeed he can, provided you're 19 or older.


— this story has been updated since it was first published.