Canadian Cannabis Law

Legislation

Currently, cannabis production, use and distribution is prohibited in Canada. (Controlled Drugs and Substances Act).

For many years, the Canadian government debated changing the cannabis laws. A Bill proposed to amend the laws by providing for the decriminalization and implementation of fines for possession of small amounts of cannabis, but severely increasing punishment for cultivation. The Bill did not pass.

As we have moved into Harper-led Conservative governments, decriminalization has disappeared from the table and instead we have been faced with regressive legislation proposing mandatory prison sentences for drug offences, including cultivation of cannabis. While these Bills are ostensibly focused on tackling organized crime, they unfairly include Compassion Club and medical cannabis cultivators and patients in their mandatory sentencing schemes.

You can watch our testimony to the Senate Committe on Legal & Constitutional Affairs regarding mandatory sentencing for cannabis cultivation and its impact on medical cannabis patients, given in December 2009.

Senate Report

The Canadian Senate wrote an extensive report stating that the harms associated with cannabis were due to its prohibition, and recommending that cannabis be legalized and regulated:

Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy
Report of the Senate Special Committee On Illegal Drugs, September 2002

The BCCCS was invited to testify before the senate committee. Here is the BCCCS Testimony to The Committee (PDF)

Medical Use

The medical use of cannabis is also prohibited, unless it is done through Health Canada's Medical Marijuana Access Division. To read more about the program, as well as our perspective on it, please go to our Health Canada page.

Read the Senate Report chapter on medical cannabis (Part II, Chapter 9: Use of marijuana for therapeutic Purposes)

Case Law

There have been several key cases in Canada that have challenged both the general prohibition of cannabis, and the MMAR itself.  Compassion clubs have also been involved in some court cases. Please visit lawyer John Conroy 's website for more information on legal cases. Here is his recap of the legal history of medicinal cannabis in the Canadian courts and why it is "Still illegal after all these years". (PDF)