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Recreational VS Medical Cannabis in Canada: Differences

Being the second country in the world to fully legalize marijuana for recreational and medical purposes after Uruguay, Canada has forever changed the accessibility of the green medication within its territory.

However, there are certain differences in recreational VS medical cannabis regulations in Canada, and we will discuss these in-depth below.

For as Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor stated in the House foyer while defending the government’s position on Senate amendments, June 13, 2018, Canadians are allowed to make wine and beer at home. Plus, they are also allowed to grow tobacco. And since growing cannabis for medical purposes is also allowed, Taylor highlighted the Canadian government’s firm belief that “the legislation should be consistent when it comes to recreational cannabis.”

Finally, not only medical but also recreational cannabis use became legitimate according to Canadian laws on October 17, 2018.

But even though recreational and medical cannabis are biologically identical (they are made up by the same active compounds, and even produced by the same Canadian Licensed Producers), one may spot (minor) differences in strains available in medical VS recreational stores.

Most importantly, there are undisputable and significant differences in Canadian regulations and categorization regarding medical and recreational cannabis – so it’s high time that we check these out.

Canada’s Recreational VS Medical Cannabis Directives Differentiations

TheAccess to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (abbreviated ACMPR) is Canada’s federal government regulation act for medical marijuana.

No changes have been made to these regulations with the official approval of cannabis use for recreational purposes. Based on the ACMRP, there are no provincial or municipal changes involved in this law.

However, according to the Cannabis Act which refers to Canada’s recreational cannabis federal regulations, each Canadian province can set its own laws and rules regarding recreational cannabis that can differ from the basic regulations in the Cannabis Act. It’s crucial to keep in mind, though, that the rules and laws on recreational cannabis imposed by each Canadian province cannot be any less but can only be more than the basic regulations in the Cannabis Act.

To illustrate this better, Ontario’s rules state that only individuals who have reached the age of 19 can legitimately opt for recreational cannabis use, while based on the Cannabis Act, the legitimate age for recreational cannabis users is 18 years.

Also, it’s important to understand that apart from provinces, Canadian municipalities do also have the full right to impose additional requirements regarding recreational cannabis. In fact, municipalities are even free to opt out when it comes to recreational marijuana dispensaries.

Access to Medical Cannabis VS Recreational Cannabis in Canada

Verified medical marijuana patients in Canada have full access to the local medical cannabis system – from caregivers to dispensaries, this system is extremely well-functioning and well-established.

In early 2019, Canada plans to increase the number of medical marijuana pharmacies to a total of 150. In fact, another tremendous step for medical marijuana accessibility has been planned by the Canadian government – the start of a program that will dispense cannabis straight to patients (without actually having to visit a dispensary).

With recreational cannabis supplies, though, accessibility seems to be not that well-established (at least not yet). There are two particular factors that affect recreational cannabis’ accessibility in Canada adversely –little supply VS huge demand.

These are the exact reasons that lead to closing numerous recreational marijuana stores across Canada in the very beginning of the post-legalization period. According to CBC News, the first day of legitimate recreational cannabis purchases was marked by mixed feelings – there were both celebrations, as well as disappointments involved. Lining up for weed looked quite differently province-to-province and municipality-to-municipality.

https://www.youtube.com/watchv=T9N3kufjmic

Video by CBC News – Canadians celebrate legal weed
Source: youtube.com

Another difference in the accessibility of medical VS recreational cannabis in Canada is that medical cannabis users can generally choose from a wider selection of cannabis products.

However, it might be the case that this particular difference is related to the still-under-establishment recreational cannabis stores battle for steady supplies of the green medication – so it is expected that both recreational and medical cannabis users would have equal access to an extended range of products in the foreseeable future.

Differences in the Quality of Medical VS Recreational Cannabis Products

As briefly mentioned above, both recreational, as well as medical cannabis in Canada, is produced by the same Canadian Licensed Producers.

That means that the producers need to meet the same requirements that aim to ensure the highest cleanliness of cannabis products, facilities, and equipment.

Nevertheless, these rules extend towards further regulating laboratory testing for possible traces of pesticides or chemical contaminants, as well as precise cannabinoid content present in recreational and medical cannabis alike.

The strict rules regarding packaging and labeling of recreational and medical cannabis products further ensure that users get exactly what they need. For instance, recreational consumers may prefer products with a higher amount of THC while those who wish to stay away from the intoxicating effects of high THC content can opt for high CBD products – knowing that the information on the label does indicate the correct dosage of the active cannabinoids.

Differences in Pricing for Recreational and Medical Marijuana in Canada

According to Statistics Canada, Canadians used to pay roughly $6.83 per single gram of marijuana prior to legalization October 2018.

However, due to differences in provincial/municipal rules regarding taxes and costs on recreational cannabis, a single gram of marijuana can reach $27 on an average.

In a nutshell, recreational cannabis is subjected to higher federal excise taxes than medical cannabis, apart from provinces being able to additionally raise sales tax rates in a similar way in which tobacco sales are treated.

As a rule of thumb, the excise federal tax can average from $1 per 1 gram of marijuana to 10% per gram. As a comparison, Ontario has raised the bar with an extra 3.9% taxes, Alberta with 16.8%, Saskatchewan with 6.45%, and Nunavut with 19.3%.

Federal excise taxes are applicable for medical cannabis, too. But there’s a big difference on that note because most Licensed Producers do absorb the tax.

Nonetheless, expenses on medical cannabis are tax-deductible – in a similar way in which any other conventional prescription medicine is treated.

Can you Take or Bring Recreational or Medical Cannabis Outside or Inside Canada

The short answer is NO – you cannot bring medical or recreational cannabis inside Canada’s borders. Also, you cannot take cannabis (either for recreational or medical purposes) outside the borders of Canada.

It is good to keep in mind, though, that some countries do allow for medical marijuana users to apply for transferring their prescription as to be able to purchase medical marijuana while traveling – and this is something that the Canadian government is likely to consider in the future, too.

Where Can You Legally Consume Medical and Recreational Cannabis in Canada

When it comes to the locations in Canada where users can legally consume cannabis, the rules are pretty much the same for medical and recreational purposes.

You are allowed to consume cannabis outdoors or indoors as long as you are of legitimate age based on the regulations of the Canadian province/municipality.

Apart from that, smoking is a fully allowed method of cannabis consumption in Canada among both recreational and medical users alike (something that is completely different according to restrictions in some US states where smoking cannabis is not among the approved methods of cannabis consumption even for medical marijuana patients).

Marijuana consumption in Canada is allowed in private residences (as long as these residences are not functioning like an office- or another form of workspaces). However, there might be exceptions on that note if private residences that function as workspaces do feature controlled areas designated for smoking/vaping purposes.

Most outdoor places, such as sidewalks and parks are fully legitimate areas where medical or recreational marijuana users can enjoy green medication (as long as there are no signs that state the opposite).

Residential boats, as well as other types of residential vehicles that have cooking facilities and permanent sleeping accommodations, are also legitimate areas for recreational or medical marijuana use – as long as these vehicles are anchored and/or parked.

Guest rooms in hotels, hostels, inns, or motels do also allow for recreational/medical marijuana consumption (except for in rare cases when the particular guests-accommodating facility rules do not state the opposite).

Medical and recreational cannabis use in Canada is also allowed in testing facilities/ scientific research facilities – but only when cannabis use is related to scientific and/or testing purposes.

Where Can you Purchase Medical VS Recreational Marijuana

Medical cannabis users in Canada can purchase green medication from any Licensed Producer of their choice.

In fact, if a medical marijuana patient’s practitioner is willing to do so, the patient can be further allowed to split prescription between different Licensed Producers.

Recreational cannabis purchases in Canada may prove to be more difficult to accomplish due to the still-under-construction recreational cannabis supply and regulations policy. Fortunately, it is only a matter of time before recreational cannabis dispensaries availability and accessibility are improved.

https://www.youtube.com/watchv=6lTY75uVoAY

Video by CBC News – Inside a recreational pot factory in Canada
Source: youtube.com


Up-to-date, in some Canadian provinces, cannabis users are able to purchase recreational cannabis both online, as well as in-person.

However, in other provinces, both in-person, as well as online purchases may not be available. For instance, in Ontario, the first legal dispensaries for recreational cannabis users are planned to open April 1, 2019. Ever since the Cannabis Act was passed October 2018, the OCS was the only supplier for recreational weed in Ontario, functioning solely online.

Where Can you Carry and Share Recreational and Medical Cannabis in Canada

Depending on the Canadian cannabis regulations on the provincial and municipal level, you may be or may not be able to purchase recreational cannabis if you are 18 years old.

As we already discussed above, provinces and municipalities are free to set their own marijuana regulations, which includes possible differences in the legitimate age for purchasing recreational cannabis.

Medical cannabis patients are allowed to carry up to 30 grams (about 1 ounce) of cannabis anywhere in Canada.

Recreational cannabis users are also allowed to carry up to 30 grams (about 1 ounce) of marijuana on their person. However, when it comes to purchasing and consuming recreational cannabis, users are obliged to follow the unique set of rules based on each province/municipality.

Medical marijuana patients are not allowed to share the green medication with other people since it is treated like any other prescription medication – it’s solely for personal use.

Recreational cannabis users are allowed to share up to 30 grams of weed with other individuals over 18 years old – but only in the case, the sharing is completely free of any charge. It’s important to mention that the Canadian laws on that note are very strict – recreational users are not allowed to sell their legitimate cannabis supply even without a profit but at a loss.

Differences in Driving Restrictions for Medical/ Recreational Cannabis Users

As a rule of thumb, there are no differences in the way Canadian federal government treats the violation of the restrictions regarding impaired driving under the influence of marijuana whether it comes to medical or recreational cannabis use.

Anyone who is operating any form of heavy machinery under the influence of cannabis – no matter if the individual is a verified medical marijuana patient or a recreational cannabis consumer of legal age – is subjected to devices screening.

Based on the results from devices screening, each individual can be further faced with the consequences of the strict set of definitions of impairment and driving based on current guidelines.

Recreational VS Medical Cannabis in Canada: The Wrap-Up

Currently pointed out as the second largest cannabis market on the globe, Canada’s major step towards full legalization of cannabis has forever changed the course of history on a level which extends way beyond national.

Should the US follow Canada’s marijuana-friendly example And what about the rest of the countries around the world

While there are many questions that will take some time before receiving an experience-based answer, there is no doubt that many changes are on the rise on the international stage of cannabis – one of these changes being the effect of cannabis-targeted tourism in Canada.

https://www.youtube.com/watchv=ydhp8ZJcr2c

Video by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – Canada Already Has A Pot Tourism Ad
Source: youtube.com

Despite the differences between recreational and medical cannabis in Canada, one thing is for sure – the outdated image of marijuana seen as “the enemy of the nation” is steadily vanishing – paving the path towards a greener, happier, the healthier population of the future. Stay tuned for exciting, little-known facts, and must-reads on all things cannabis-related by subscribing to our newsletter.