Saskatchewan unveiled its framework for adult-use cannabis in May 2018 ahead of Canada’s national legalization date of October 17, 2018.
However, by August the province had approved an initial batch of 51 retailers to sell adult use marijuana from a lottery of about 1,500 applicants. So, despite the late start, Saskatchewan appears well poised for legalization, which takes place October 17, 2018.
The province of more than 1 million residents, which has the lowest per-capita consumption of cannabis in Canada outside of the sparsely populated Northwest Territories and Nunavut, according to Statistics Canada, also has some tough restrictions.
Regulated use of medical marijuana has been legal since 2001 and remains in effect.
Among the tougher restrictions is a ban on smoking in public places, and a number of condominium owners boards have moved forward on bans of in-home use.
The minimum age to purchase adult use marijuana is 19.
Driving while impaired is illegal nationally and the province’s zero-tolerance policy imposes tougher penalties.
Under the new laws, drivers charged with impaired driving will have their licenses suspended indefinitely until charges are resolved in court. Drivers issued roadside suspensions face extended suspensions and vehicle impoundments if transporting a minor younger than 16.
A November 2017 Cannabis Survey filled out by more than 26,000 residents found that nearly two-thirds (⅔) of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the same penalties for alcohol-impaired driving — including license suspension, fines, and vehicle seizures — should apply to drug-impaired driving.
Upon convictions under the federal Criminal Code, drivers could also face driving suspension of one (1) to five (5) years, fines of $1,250 to $2,500, and requirements to complete education programs.
In less severe circumstances, where Criminal Code charges are not filed, drivers can still face various suspensions and vehicle seizures that increase with repeat offenses.
Under federal guidelines, drivers face graduated penalties depending on levels of cannabis and/or alcohol concentrations in the blood. Other than the zero-tolerance policy, Saskatchewan will follow federal guidelines.
Federally, the legal limit for THC in the bloodstream is 2 nanograms per milliliter. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram. Concentrations between two (2) and five (5) nonograms result in a fine up to $1,000. Concentrations of 5 or more nanograms will result in a $1,000 minimum fine on the first offense, imprisonment of 30 days or more on a second offense and 120 days or more on a third offense. Penalties for drug-impaired driving accidents can range from 18 months to as much as life in a fatal accident.
Minors are not allowed to possess cannabis. In Saskatchewan, possession of less than five (5) grams by anyone younger than 18 results in a provincial infraction and a fine of at least $300. Possession by a minor of more than five (5) grams will result in criminal prosecution for minors.
Saskatchewan has also set aside 36 separate additional provincial fines between $200 and $2,250 for minors, adults, and retailers for violations of the Cannabis Control (Saskatchewan) Act, Bill 121. The smaller fines are for offenses such as possession more than 30 grams, or 1.06 ounces, or consuming cannabis in public. Examples of larger fines are for retailers selling to, or failing to require identification from, suspected minors or consuming while driving.
Where is it safe to purchase weed in Saskatchewan?
Cannabis will be sold in privately owned and supplied stores, monitored by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority. All cannabis stores must be stand-alone cannabis and accessory specialty operations. Although they can occupy the same building as other stores, businesses must have floor-to-ceiling barriers and their own entrances and exits. Retailers can also deliver products to home.
Consumers will be limited to 30 grams, or 1.06 ounces, of dried cannabis or its equivalent per transaction.
Municipalities are allowed to add restrictions, including buffer zones, as are being enacted in Regina and Saskatoon.
The province initially said it would allow about 60 licenses, and the number of stores may fluctuate based on business. So far, 51 licenses have been distributed for 40 eligible municipalities and First Nations communities with populations of 2,500 or more. A number of communities have opted out of allowing adult-use marijuana to be sold. Larger municipalities are allowed multiple licenses. The University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Polytechnic system have banned adult-use marijuana.
Retail stores will be permitted to sell a maximum of 30 grams of dried cannabis to an individual at one time.
Applicants for licenses were required to pass “good character” tests and employees have to be of legal age and trained to provide information and education to customers.
Approved wholesalers are allowed to sell to permitted stores and other wholesalers but not the general public. Wholesale operations must be physically located within Saskatchewan, and cannabis products can only be sold and distributed within the province.
Where is it safe to consume cannabis?
Smoking in public is not allowed. It will be allowed on private property and residences with the property owners’ approval, although some condominium owners associations have moved to ban smoking, which they retain the right to do. For rental properties, landlords can add or continue cannabis smoking restrictions similar to those for smoking tobacco and other substances. Landlords can also add restrictions to growing. Smoking on private campgrounds is also banned, unless permitted by the owner.
It is illegal to consume cannabis while operating a vehicle for either drivers or passengers. The law applies regardless of whether the vehicle is in motion. It must be in a sealed container that is not immediately accessible to the driver or occupants.
According to officials, the rules for transporting cannabis are the same as alcohol, which means that drivers or passengers cannot consume in any vehicle at any time, or possess cannabis in the passenger area.
The minimum age to buy or possess cannabis in Saskatchewan is 19.
The province allows possession by adults of up to 30 grams, or 1.06 ounces, of cannabis in a public place. The government has set equivalencies for one (1) gram of dried cannabis to equal:
- Five (5) grams of fresh cannabis
- 15 grams, or 0.53 ounces, of edibles
- 70 milliliters, or 2.37 fluid ounces of liquid
- 0.25 grams of concentrate, and
- One (1) plant seed
Premade edibles and extract will not be available until one year after the legislation is passed, although consumers can create their own edibles.
No limit has been established for the amount of cannabis that can be stored in a home.
Patients using medical marijuana are allowed to have up to 150 grams, or 5.3 ounces — 30 times the daily dose prescribed by an authorized health-care practitioner — of dried marijuana or its equivalent.
Is home cultivation allowed in Saskatchewan?
Saskatchewan follows the federal guidelines authorizing adults to grow up to four (4) plants per household, subject to landlord or owner association restrictions. The limits are in addition to the authorized limit of licensed growing of medical marijuana.
Medical marijuana in Saskatchewan
Thousands of Canadians are federally licensed to possess and use medical marijuana. Until the new law is passed, Canadians must the qualify for the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), which came into effect on August 24, 2016.
Recipients must provide medical documentation confirming the diagnosis by a health-care practitioner, either an authorized physician or nurse practitioner.
Patients must not be convicted of a marijuana-related offense and be registered only once at a time.
Generally, patients can qualify for medical marijuana under two categories. One is to allow for compassionate end-of-life care, for pain symptoms ranging from seizures to spinal cord injury to side effects from cancer or HIV/AIDS medications. The second category is for patients suffering from other persistent debilitating symptoms. Among the ailments Health Canada lists as possibly qualifying are:
- Attention deficit or attention deficit-hyperactivity disorders (ADD/ADHD)
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Back and neck conditions
- Brain injury
- Chronic nausea
- Chronic pain
- Eating disorders
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Crohn’s disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Hepatitis C
- Kidney failure, including patients receiving dialysis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscle spasms
- Muscular dystrophy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Severe arthritis
- Sexual dysfunction
- Sleep disorders
Information on eligibility and applying is available at Canada’s official medical marijuana website.
Authorized caregivers are allowed to possess fresh or dried marijuana or cannabis oil and may transfer or administer the substance or provide a medical document. They may also transfer substance to an individual who is responsible for the patient under their professional treatment.
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