What’s the Story with Cannabis in Canada?
Canada’s stance for legalization and consumption of marijuana seems to vary across each province. Here is a breakdown of what’s going on with cannabis in Canada.
Currently in the U.S., 24 states including the District of Columbia have passed legislation either decriminalizing, allowing for medicinal purposes, or legalizing marijuana. But what about our neighbors (or for them, neighbours) to the North?
Nationally, recreational cannabis consumption is still illegal in Canada, but for the most part it’s decriminalized. Registered users are allowed to possess dried medical marijuana, and although nearly 3.5 million Canadians (just over 12% of the population) consumes cannabis, only about 40,000 Canadians are authorized to possess medical marijuana.
We’ll break the nation down into provinces (Canadian states) and see what the deal is when it comes to cannabis in Canada. We are going to leave out the Territories (Nunavut, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories) as there is little data on them.
With over half a million users, Vancouver is home to the “Prince of Pot” and is known around the world for the city’s relaxed views on cannabis. They have more than 93 marijuana dispensaries in the city and nearly 5,000 British Columbians are registered to possess dried medical marijuana.
Often considered as the Texas of the North, Alberta is a little more conservative and less lenient than their friends along the West Coast. In fact, they only have about 700 residents who are registered to possess medical marijuana. Their first medical clinic solely dedicated to providing medical marijuana opened in May. Despite their less than accommodating stances, over 360,000 Albertans consume cannabis.
Saskatchewan only has about 360 individuals registered to possess medical marijuana. However it is growing to be more popular; it’s said that just over 82,000 (or 10% of the population) consumes cannabis. And recently, a high school student began fighting for his right to consume medical marijuana at school.
The province of Manitoba has recently made it a little bit tougher for marijuana reform, banning the use of vaporizers at indoor public places. It will be interesting to see how this will affect future registered users, because as of now Manitoba only has about 150 residents who are registered to possess medical marijuana whereas 11.5% of residents (or 110,000) consume cannabis.
The province of Ontario, with over one million cannabis users also has the largest amount of registered medical marijuana users. Currently, Ontario has nearly 5,500 people registered to consume medical marijuana. Furthermore, Ontario is home to arguably the largest marijuana greenhouse in the world, boasting an astonishing 350,000 square foot growspace.
A company called Hydropothecary was recently granted approval to sell medical marijuana, a first for Quebec! This is a huge step in the right direction, considering that there are about 3,000 Quebec residents who are registered medical marijuana users and over 760,000 non-registered consumers.
A hot spot recently for veteran affairs, New Brunswick has just opened a medical marijuana vapor room for the 360 residents who are registered to possess dried medical marijuana. While this number may not be large, over 68,000 people (or 11% of the population) consume cannabis.
Nova Scotia has around 1,260 residents who are registered to possess dried medical marijuana, and also boasts the highest percentage of cannabis users per capita. With 115,000 users, about 15% of their population consumes marijuana.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Even though over 47,000 people in Newfoundland and Labrador consume cannabis, roughly 100 Newfoundland residents are registered to possess dried medical marijuana.
Prince Edward Island
Well, there you have it. Similar to the United States, Canadian provinces are beginning to shift their stance towards the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana. Maybe someday we will be able to cross the border and smoke a joint together—now isn’t that a harmonious image?
Featured image Bruce Stanfield