Dear Herb: Can I give away my homegrown cannabis plants?
Sharing cannabis plants is legal in Canada, if you follow a few key rules
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/02/2019 (1443 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Dear Herb: Can I legally sell or give away any of my allowed four weed plants? I live in Ontario. — Tired of Gardening
Dear Tired: Had enough of trying to grow your cannabis plants?
You cannot legally sell any of the four cannabis plants you’ve been growing, as the Cannabis Act restricts sales to entities with government licences. But you can absolutely give them away, as long as that giveaway meets a few important criteria.
First of all, both the giver and the recipient must be legally considered adults in order to possess the cannabis plants in the first place. In Ontario, that means everyone involved has to be at least 19 years old.
Secondly, the cannabis itself must be of legal origin. Practically speaking, that means one of three things:
- you grew them from legally-obtained seeds or clones, or
- you grew them from legal starting materials shared with you by someone who’s registered to grow medical cannabis, or
- you planted a seed obtained from a legal package of dried cannabis.
If you knowingly grew these cannabis plants from illegally obtained seeds, the plants themselves are technically considered illicit cannabis and are illegal to possess, much less give away. (That said, I think it would be fairly unlikely for law enforcement to actually track down the origins of a mere four cannabis plants, but better safe than sorry.)
Thirdly, you must give the plants away for free. You can’t accept money in exchange, nor should you trade or barter. (A hug or a high-five would be fine, though.) Also, it would be perfectly legal for you to give the plant to a friend, and then later receive a separate gift of up to 30 grams of the crop.
Fourthly — and this is very important — you cannot legally share your cannabis plants if those plants have started budding or flowering. That’s because the Cannabis Act explicitly bans an individual from possessing, “in a public place, one or more cannabis plants that are budding or flowering.”
If you give even a single budding cannabis plant to a friend, they’d be breaking the law as soon as they leave your house to bring it home.
If you’re going to share cannabis plants without breaking the law, the plants must still be in their immature, vegetative state. But in most provinces, you can go pretty much anywhere in public with up to four non-budding cannabis plants. (Journalist Amanda Siebert recently brought a live, non-budding cannabis plant on a domestic plane voyage, and both she and the plant turned out fine.)
Finally, you can only give away up to four plants at a time. You also can’t give them to a friend in Quebec or Manitoba, where provincial laws make it illegal to cultivate cannabis plants.
I suppose this is a fairly long rulebook for just giving away a few plants. But this time last year, you couldn’t grow or share any cannabis plants at all unless you had a medical registration, so all these legal requirements represent some kind of progress.
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