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Canadian Marijuana Laws

Marijuana – including its preparations, derivatives and similar synthetic preparations – is a Schedule II drug under the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which means that it is illegal to grow, possess, distribute or sell it.

Possession of a small amount of marijuana can result in a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Possession of a larger amount, or the trafficking of the drug, can result in a much more severe sentence – up to life imprisonment.

However, the courts have ruled that individuals who have demonstrated a medical need for marijuana must have reasonable access to a legal source of the drug. This access must be authorized by a physician.

Since the legalization of medical marijuana in 2001, the line between legal and illegal pot usage has become increasingly blurred. As shown in the fifth estate’s ‘Pot Fiction’, it’s possible – even easy – to obtain a prescription for medical marijuana by citing pretty much any ailment at all.

Enforcement of marijuana laws – or the lack thereof – also contributes to the confusion surrounding the legality of the drug. Police often look the other way when it comes to pot, choosing instead to focus on more hazardous drug use and on more serious criminal activity.