How do I legally grow cannabis at home?

How many cannabis plants can I grow? Where can I grow on my property? How big can my plants be? The Leaf has all the answers.

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Welcome to The Leaf's guide to legal home cannabis cultivation in Canada!

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/03/2019 (1256 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Welcome to The Leaf’s guide to legal home cannabis cultivation in Canada!

This guide is meant for Canadians who are interested in growing cannabis for non-medical purposes at home, and want to keep their garden strictly legal under the federal Cannabis Act and various provincial and territorial laws.

The information in this guide is not meant for Canadians with a federal authorization to grow cannabis for their personal medical use, and it won’t teach you how to actually grow cannabis. (For some basic information about practical considerations for small-scale home cannabis growers, see this article.)

Canadian adults can only legally grow up to four cannabis plants per household, and not at all in Quebec or Manitoba. (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press files)

For readers in Manitoba and Quebec, provincial law prohibits home cultivation of recreational cannabis entirely. Even if you follow all the federal legal guidelines around home cannabis cultivation, growing any amount of cannabis at home in Manitoba or Quebec is still a provincial offence.

(In Manitoba, the provincial penalty for growing between one and four cannabis plants at home is a $2,542 fine. In Quebec, the punishment for cannabis cultivation plant is a fine ranging from $250 to $750 for a first offence, doubled for further offences.)

In any other Canadian province or territory, adults can legally grow up to four cannabis plants at home, as long as they obey the laws described below.

Some provinces have additional rules around outdoor cannabis cultivation. (Joe Bryksa / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Adult individuals only

Under the federal Cannabis Act, it’s illegal to grow any number of cannabis plants if you’re younger than 18. In practice, every province and territory except Alberta and Quebec has raised that age to 19. Since home cannabis cultivation isn’t permitted in Quebec, Alberta is the only place in Canada where an 18-year-old can legally grow cannabis at home.

It’s illegal for an organization to grow cannabis in a home. That includes any kind of corporation, public body, society, partnership or trade union.

Where in my house can I grow cannabis?

The Cannabis Act allows adults to grow a limited amount of cannabis in their “dwelling-house,” as defined in the Criminal Code of Canada. Basically, a dwelling-house means a building or unit that’s occupied as a permanent or temporary residence, including mobile homes.

Legal cannabis seeds for sale through Nova Scotia's licensed provincial cannabis retailer. (NSLC Cannabis)

The Cannabis Act expands slightly on the Criminal Code’s definition of dwelling-house to specify that the house where you grow cannabis must be the place where you’re “ordinarily resident.” If you own more than one home, you can only cultivate cannabis at the home where you usually live.

For the purposes of home cannabis cultivation, the Cannabis Act states that a dwelling-house includes “any land that is subjacent to it and the immediately contiguous land that is attributable to it, including a yard, garden or any similar land,” as well as any building or structure on that land.

In other words, you can legally grow your cannabis in the basement of your home, or in a garden on land that’s touching your home. Greenhouses, garages or other buildings on the property that touches the home are also acceptable for cannabis cultivation. Some provincial and territorial laws place more restrictions on where cannabis can be grown (see “Further restrictions under provincial law” below).

It's legal for adults to share up to four cannabis plants with other adults, but only before the plants start budding. (Steven Senne / The Associated Press files)

Under the Cannabis Act, it’s illegal to cultivate cannabis at a home that isn’t your own, or to offer to do so. If you don’t live on the property, you can’t legally grow cannabis there.

How many cannabis plants can I grow?

No matter how you slice it, the Cannabis Act makes it illegal to cultivate more than four cannabis plants at once. It doesn’t matter if the plants are fully-grown or just seedlings: cultivating more than four cannabis plants at any given time is a crime, period.

The four-plant limit applies not just to individuals, but also to each dwelling-house. If two or more adults are living in a single home, they’re still limited to growing a total of four cannabis plants between them. In other words, it’s never legal to have more than four cannabis plants growing in a single place. Doing so risks fines and prison time.

Where do I get cannabis to grow?

The Cannabis Act effectively divides cannabis into two categories: legal cannabis and illicit cannabis. Legal cannabis is anything produced and distributed in accordance with the law, including cannabis that’s grown for commercial sale with a government licence and cannabis grown legally at home.

Illicit cannabis includes any cannabis that was either “sold, produced or distributed by a person prohibited from doing so” under the Cannabis Act or any other provincial law, or cannabis that was imported illegally. (As far as the law is concerned, legal cannabis can actually become illicit cannabis if it’s distributed illegally.) It is illegal to possess illicit cannabis, and the penalties can be severe.

If you want to make sure your home-grown cannabis is legal cannabis, you must obtain your seeds or seedlings from a legal source. That could be a provincially licensed cannabis store or seeds found in a package of legally purchased cannabis. Alternatively, it’s legal to receive cannabis starting materials as a gift from someone who’s licensed to grow medical cannabis at home.

Cannabis seeds purchased from an unlicensed seller count as illicit cannabis in and of themselves. Any cannabis grown from those seeds would also be considered illicit.

How big can my cannabis plants grow?

There is no legal limit on the size of your cannabis plants. The federal government initially proposed a 100 centimetre limit on plant height, but that restriction never made it into the final version of the Cannabis Act.

How much cannabis can I harvest from my plants?

Under federal law, there is no legal limit on how much cannabis you can harvest from your plants or store in your home. However, two provinces and one territory have made their own rules on home cannabis storage that effectively serve as limits on how much you can harvest from your plants:

  • British Columbia limits home cannabis storage to 1,000 grams.
  • Quebec limits home cannabis storage to 150 grams, but you can’t legally grow cannabis plants there.
  • Nunavut also limits home cannabis storage to 150 grams.

In public, the legal possession limit for cannabis is 30 grams. That limit applies across Canada.

Can I share my cannabis plants with others?

Yes, it’s legal for an individual adult to share up to four cannabis plants with another adult at one time. However, the plants in question must not have entered their flowering phase, when they start to produce cannabis bud. (Read this article to learn more about the law on sharing cannabis plants.)

An individual cannot legally sell cannabis plants.

Can I share my cannabis harvest with others?

Yes, you can legally share your cannabis crop with another adult, up to 30 grams at a time. Again, the operative word is “sharing”, not “selling” or “trading”. An individual cannot legally sell cannabis.

Further restrictions under provincial and territorial laws

In addition to the federal law described above, some provinces and territories have added further laws and regulations around home cannabis cultivation:

Home cannabis growers should also check to see whether their local government has rules around cannabis cultivation.

Can I grow cannabis in my rental unit or my condominium?

That’s between you and your landlord or condo board. However, almost all provincial and territorial governments have passed laws specifically allowing landlords to ban home cannabis cultivation.

Further information about cannabis cultivation in condos is available here.

solomon.israel@theleafnews.com   

@sol_israel

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