Now that cannabis is legal, any Canadian older than 18 or 19 (depending on the province or territory) is able to buy and smoke cannabis. In addition to that, they can have up to 30 grams of cannabis with them in public. But police now have to weed out any illegal cannabis. Lots of people are wondering: how exactly are they going to do this?
Imagine for a moment that a police officer stops you while you’re walking in public with your legal cannabis. For whatever reason, they discover the cannabis you’re carrying. They ask for proof you obtained your cannabis legally. If you can’t provide evidence, you’re facing up to $5,000 in fines and 6 months in prison for possession. But legal and illegal weed look the same. So how can you prove your cannabis is legal and avoid these charges?
It’s tricky to determine whether cannabis is legal or not. There are a few ways you can guarantee you won’t face any incorrect charges for illegal possession.
Provide Proof of Purchase
The best way to show your cannabis is legal is to keep the receipt. This is irrefutable proof you bought the cannabis from a legal retailer.
However, if you’ve lost or thrown away your receipt, another way to show your cannabis is legal is the packaging. If you keep your cannabis in the original packaging or keep the packaging, police will have no reason to question you.
Legal packaging is easy to recognize at a glance. According to the Government of Canada, cannabis sold in licensed stores has “an ‘excise stamp’ on the package. The stamp has security features to prevent forgery just like passports and banknotes.” And, in addition, every province and territory has a different coloured stamp. Legal packaging also has the standard cannabis symbol and mandatory health warnings.
No Proof of Purchase
Odds are, most people won’t have their original packaging or receipt. It’s easy throw it out without considering why we should keep it. But if you don’t have a receipt or the original packaging for your weed, it becomes much trickier for police to determine the legality. Without proof of purchase, there’s no definitive way to prove your cannabis is legal. If you don’t have a receipt or packaging, they may ask you to describe the packaging or even ask about the excise stamp.
What’s more, if you grow your cannabis at home, you won’t have any proof of purchase. In this case, police may ask you about the plants you have at home, how you dried the plant, if any solvents were used, and where you got the seeds.
In both cases, these questions don’t conclusively prove your cannabis is legal or illegal and the police officer will have to make an educated guess.
Will You Actually Be Charged?
You may not believe that police will actually charge you for being unable to prove your cannabis is legal, but they can and already have charged Canadians for this. Shortly after legalization, a 40-year-old Quebec man was pulled over by police and charged with numerous cannabis-related offenses. One of those offenses was due to him being unable to provide proof he had obtained his cannabis legally.
In this case, the man in question had broken several cannabis-related laws, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be charged even if you simply can’t provide proof of legal purchase. Leafly states that “police can arrest anyone in possession of illegal cannabis if, by facts, by observation, or by any information collected they have established reasonable grounds to believe that it’s illegal cannabis”.
Neither you nor the police want to charge you if your cannabis is legal. Err on the side of caution; remember to keep your receipts and original packaging when you buy your buds!