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Dear Herb: Can I use cannabis as a visual aid for my educational workshops?

Herb explores the legalities of using cannabis as a teaching tool

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Dear Herb: As an educator, I really appreciate your Dear Herb column. Keep up the great work brother!

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/03/2019 (1429 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Dear Herb: As an educator, I really appreciate your Dear Herb column. Keep up the great work brother!

I do public education workshops on various cannabis topics. The participants are adults. The venue is often private, but sometimes would be considered public or publicly available — in other words, anyone could attend.

I’ve started bringing a few grams of dried cannabis with me so that participants can examine it, etc. It’s a tool for dialogue. I don’t transport live plants in flower. Occasionally moms bring small children and thus far, when this happens, I don’t bring out the weed.

Herb answers your questions about legal consumption and growing, the law, etiquette — you name it, he'll look into it.

Am I walking a fine line here? The material is never consumed and never given away. I keep it in a container, out of sight, until I bring it out to pass it around. — Pot as a Prop

Dear Pot as a Prop: Thanks for reading Dear Herb, and thanks for the kind words!

I don’t see anything in the federal Cannabis Act that would prevent an adult individual from legally using cannabis as a visual aid when educating other adults, but since you’re clearly interested in abiding by the law, I do think there are a few legal issues for you to consider here.

As far as the law is concerned, passing around cannabis as a visual aid could be considered distribution of cannabis. (The Cannabis Act defines “distribute” as “administering, giving, transferring, transporting, sending, delivering, providing or otherwise making (cannabis) available in any manner, whether directly or indirectly, and offering to distribute.”) 

It can be perfectly legal for an adult individual to distribute a limited amount of cannabis to other adult individuals, but you do have to follow the Cannabis Act’s rules around distribution.

As you identified in your question, the single biggest concern here is whether or not you’re distributing your cannabis prop to adults only. If you’re holding your workshops in a private venue where you’re confident the only participants will only be other adults — for example, in a private home where no children live, or at a bar that doesn’t allow children to enter — I think you should be safe. (The Cannabis Act defines “adults” as people who are at least 18 years old, but provincial laws raise this to 19 years old everywhere except Alberta and Quebec.)

If you’re holding your workshops in a public venue, or a venue where an underage person could enter at any time, I think you’d be wise to take extra precautions to protect yourself before you pass the cannabis around. Specifically, I think you might want to consider verifying participants’ ages before they enter the room by checking their IDs.

You should also make sure your cannabis prop is not illicit cannabis, as knowingly distributing illicit cannabis is against the law. If you purchase your visual aid from a licensed cannabis store, you’re safe. I would advise keeping the cannabis in its original packaging when you bring it along to your workshops, and make sure the government excise tax stamp is still on the package. That way, any inquiring authorities should be able to easily determine that your cannabis is of legal origin.

You mentioned that you’re only using a few grams of cannabis as your visual aid, which is good. Distributing more than 30 grams would be illegal, as would possessing more than 30 grams in public.

One final consideration has to do with who you are. If you’re conducting these workshops as an individual, I don’t see any issue with passing around a limited amount of legal cannabis to participants, but if you’re conducting the workshops as an organization, passing around weed as a visual aid could be a problem. It’s illegal for an organization to distribute cannabis without a government licence.

Good luck with your workshops.

Got a question about cannabis? Herb answers your questions about legal consumption and growing, the law, etiquette — you name it, he’ll look into it.

First, please check this list of questions already answered by Herb. Then, email dearherb@theleafnews.com, or to submit anonymously, fill out the form below. Please include an email address if you’d like to be notified when Herb answers your question:  

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