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Legalization across Canada

While legalization is a federal decision, provinces and municipalities have been given areas of responsibility.

The federal government is making cannabis legal in Canada in July 2018. It’s now up to territories and provinces to make local decisions about a number of issues, including how and where it will be sold, where it can be consumed, and how to address impaired driving and workplace safety.

Proposed federal legislation

On April 13, 2017, the Government of Canada introduced legislation to legalize, regulate and restrict access to cannabis – Bills C-45 Cannabis Act and C-46 An Act to amend the Criminal Code. This legislation is expected to come into effect in July 2018. See also the plain language overview of Bill C-45.

Cannabis is currently an illegal substance (with the exception of authorized medical use) under the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

The federal legislation would:

  • allow adults to possess up to 30 grams of legally-produced cannabis
  • allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per household
  • set the minimum age for purchase and use at 18 years of age, with the option for provinces and territories to increase the age limit
  • enable a regulatory regime for the licensed production of cannabis, which would be controlled by the federal government
  • enable a regulatory regime for the distribution and sale of cannabis, which would be controlled by the provincial or territorial government
  • establish new provisions to address drug-impaired driving, as well as making several changes to the overall legal framework to address alcohol-impaired driving

Learn more about the legalization and regulation of cannabis in Canada.

Yukon’s approach

The Government of Yukon has an obligation and an opportunity to actively shape how the territory will adapt to cannabis legalization in a way that best suits Yukoners’ needs, circumstances and values.

By July 2018, we need to establish our own programs, policies, and laws about where and when cannabis can be sold, and how communities will be protected from potential negative consequences.

In doing so, the Yukon government will base its decisions on current, high-quality evidence and best practices. We are adopting a cautious approach to cannabis legalization, with the goal of maximizing local benefits while minimizing local harms.

Our focus is on:

  • Providing legal, controlled access to cannabis that displaces illegal and criminal activity.
  • Prioritizing public health, safety and harm reduction, with a focus on protecting youth from negative health effects.

To do this, we are inviting all Yukoners to share their views on cannabis use and legalization. This will inform our decisions, and help us respond in a way that makes the most sense for the territory.

We are also working with all governments – First Nation and municipal – to help us better understand the unique circumstances of all Yukon communities. We will provide governments with the tools and information they need to decide on issues that fall under their jurisdiction, in accordance with local needs and preferences.

We will continue to assess the implications of legalization, while working with our territorial and provincial colleagues to develop common approaches (where feasible) to issues where it makes sense to have consistency across the country.

Role of provinces and territories

While legalization is a federal decision, the provinces and territories, as well as municipalities, have been given areas of responsibility.

Table 1: Jurisdictional responsibilities
** provinces and territories have the ability to strengthen legislation for these areas under federal jurisdiction

Activity Responsible
Federal Provincial Municipal
Possession limits ** Yes No No
Trafficking Yes No No
Advertisement & packaging ** Yes No No
Impaired driving Yes Yes No
Medical cannabis Yes No No
Seed-to-sale tracking system Yes No No
Production (cultivation and processing) Yes No No
Age limit (federal minimum) ** Yes No No
Public health Yes Yes No
Education Yes Yes Yes
Taxation Yes Yes Yes
Home cultivation (growing plants at home) ** Yes No No
Workplace safety No Yes No
Distribution and wholesaling No Yes No
Retail model No Yes No
Retail location and rules No Yes Yes
Regulatory compliance Yes Yes No
Public consumption No Yes Yes
Land use/zoning No No Yes


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