4 things cottagers should know about marijuana legalization

Marijuana-leaves Yarygin/Shutterstock

Whether you’re a fan of cannabis or not, change is on the horizon. Come Oct. 17, 2018, recreational marijuana will be legal in Canada. And let’s face it: the cottage has always been a place where some Canadians like to indulge. What might legalization mean for cottagers this fall?

You’ll be able to smoke it at the cottage

In general, no matter where your cottage is in Canada, if it’s your private property, you’ll be able to smoke or vape there. But once you leave your property, provincial legislation will vary. What a surprise: some provinces won’t allow it in cars or in “areas frequented by children”; some will ban it in any public space; some will allow it in public, but only where tobacco is smoked. (Nova Scotia’s recently-updated Smoke-free Places Act will ban it on provincial beaches and in provincial parks—but allow it at campsites within those parks.) And if you’re a cottage renter? It’s of course possible that an owner could specify “no smoking or vaping” in their rental agreement, says Mark Bordo, the CEO of Canada Stays. “You can put anything you want in an agreement. But you might have a hard time proving that anything happened after the fact.”

You’ll be able to buy it in cottage and cabin country. (Probably. At least, eventually.)

Adults will be able to purchase fresh or dried cannabis from bricks-and-mortar retail stores in every province or territory except Nunavut. In many provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, these stores will be government run; Alberta’s stores, meanwhile, will all be private. (In the spring, the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission had already received more than 450 retail applications; the province plans to licence 250 stores this year alone.) And the stores aren’t only going to be in big cities. Ontario, for example, has selected Kawartha Lakes as one of this year’s initial 40 Ontario Cannabis Store locations.

The boat will be off limits

“But that’s always been the case,” says Acting Sgt. Darcy Jibb of the Ontario Provincial Police’s marine unit. Boating while impaired by drugs isn’t allowed now and it won’t be allowed in October. However, those in a boat will be able to carry a small amount of marijuana “on their person,” says Jibb. Any legal re-jigs brought on by Canada’s new Bill C-46 (an update to impaired driving laws), including any changes regarding allowed levels of THC in the blood of a car driver, will apply to boat operators too.

The rules may even vary town to town

Federal and provincial laws provide the framework, sure, but in many cases, municipalities will still have the authority to enact and enforce their own specific regulations — for example, bylaws that might allow for plant cultivation, but only indoors (not in a yard or on a deck). Bottom line: what’s okay at home in the city might not be okay in cottage country (and vice versa).

Featured Video