Canadian? Curious about cannabis? Here are some answers

With lots of unknowns about the upcoming legislation to legalize marijuana, Canadians have lots of questions about how legal weed will work. Here's a sample of what's on our minds.

What you need to know about legalization in 2018, from taxes to home cultivation

Canadians are curious about marijuana legalization, and the government's upcoming legislation is sure to face scrutiny. (Matilde Campodonico/Associated Press)

Full legalization of marijuana appears to be on track for July 2018, which will make Canada just the second nation in the world after Uruguay to completely legalize the cultivation, sale and possession of the drug for medical and recreational purposes.

With lots still unknown before the legislation is unveiled, Canadians have questions about how legalized marijuana will work.

CBC News business reporter Jacqueline Hansen and writer Solomon Israel responded to some of those questions — and comments — during a live chat on Thursday. Here's a sample.

Government spending spree?​

"There's plenty of discussion about the tax revenue," wrote Charlie Crabb. "But how will that money be spent? What's been discussed so far?"

Taxes could be shared between the federal government (responsible for licensing and regulating producers), provincial governments (in charge of setting prices and determining how marijuana is sold), and municipal governments (which can tax within their own jurisdictions).

The federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation recommended the federal government "commit to using revenue from cannabis as a source of funding for administration … research and enforcement,"  as well as "a source of funding for prevention, education and treatment."

Still, the task force felt that "revenue generation should be a secondary consideration for all governments, with the protection and promotion of public health and safety as the primary goals."

Expect the federal government to keep those recommendations in mind as it prepares for legalization.

What gets legalized next?

Josh Rambeau asked: "Do you think that this legalization, if positive results are seen, might open the door for further legalization of other drugs?"

In January, Toronto-area MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith told CBC Toronto's Metro Morning he believes all illegal drugs should be decriminalized and eventually legalized.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau closed the door on that idea on March 2, when he said his government was not considering legalizing any other illicit drugs.

How much can your garden grow?

"Under Harper we could have six plants," wrote Mark Hagg. "Under Justin we can only have four."

It's a bit more complicated than that.

The Liberal government said it plans to limit home marijuana growers to four plants per household, in line with the task force's recommendations. (The task force also recommended that plants be limited to 100 centimetres in height.)

The current medical marijuana regulations in Canada went into effect on Aug.24, 2016. Those  Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations evolved from court challenges to previous regulatory regimes.

The first regulatory system was implemented in 2001, before Stephen Harper's government took power. The next took effect in 2013, during Harper's tenure. Those rules would have prohibited home growing, but were ultimately reformed after a successful court challenge.

The current rules for growing marijuana for medical purposes are complex. The amount of marijuana that can be grown by a registered patient depends on how much marijuana they've been prescribed per day. The government explains the rules — but in short, registered medical marijuana users in Canada can be allowed to grow much more than just six plants.

How young is too young?

Tommy Skinner asked, "What do you guys think the legal age should be?"

As CBC journalists, we don't take a position on that question. But CBC has revealed that the federal government will set the minimum legal age to use marijuana at 18. The provinces will be able to increase that age if they like.

In U.S. states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, the minimum age for marijuana use is 21, in line with the minimum age for buying and using alcohol.

If the provinces set different ages for marijuana purchases, as they do for buying alcohol, young Canadians could end up seeking out jurisdictions where they're old enough.

Getting high on your own supply

"Do you think many people will take advantage of the ability to grow their own plants?" asked Ricky Clow.

We don't know, but it's easy to imagine some Canadians will want to try their hands at cannabis agriculture once it's legal. Data on legal home growing in the U.S. remains scarce.

Keep in mind: Canadians may be less enthusiastic about growing marijuana at home if the regulations turn out to be strict.

In Colorado, for example, residents who grow for recreational use are allowed to grow up to six plants per state resident over the age of 21. Home growers have to take security measures like growing their plants in a completely enclosed and locked area.


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