Dear Herb: How many CBD cannabis plants can I legally grow?

A cannabis plant is a cannabis plant, as far as the law is concerned


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Dear Herb: How many pure CBD plants are we allowed to grow outdoors in Canada?

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/05/2019 (1416 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Dear Herb: How many pure CBD plants are we allowed to grow outdoors in Canada?

The plants have less than 0.5 per cent THC, so they’re actually not a “drug” strain of cannabis. — Peter

Dear Peter: The answer to your question is no more than four, unless you are licenced by the federal government to:

a) produce cannabis commercially

b) produce hemp commercially

c) grow cannabis for personal medical use

If you don’t fall into any of those categories — and you don’t live in Manitoba and Quebec, which have banned home cannabis cultivation — you can legally grow up to four cannabis plants at home, provided you follow all the relevant federal, provincial and local laws.

Even if the cannabis you would like to grow hypothetically contained no THC whatsoever, you could still only grow up to four of those plants under the federal Cannabis Act. That law is perfectly explicit: an adult Canadian without a special licence or authorization simply cannot cultivate more than four cannabis plants at any one time in their dwelling-house, no matter what.

As defined by the law, a cannabis plant is, quite simply, a plant that belongs to the genus Cannabis.‍

It doesn’t matter how much THC or CBD the cannabis plant yields. It doesn’t matter if that plant is “pure CBD,” and contains so little THC that you could never get high from smoking the bud. It doesn’t matter whether you’re growing it indoors or outdoors: an individual Canadian can never legally grow more than four cannabis plants at home without one of the licences mentioned above, full stop. And unlicensed individuals can’t legally grow any cannabis plants at all outside the home.

Peter, your question has me thinking about a broader issue: since legalization, I’ve noticed that some Canadians seem to believe there are now fewer restrictions around CBD (or no restrictions at all).

That’s not exactly the case. Although adult Canadians are now perfectly free to use legally-produced, legally-distributed cannabis products that contain CBD or THC, the actual production of those cannabis products remains strictly controlled under the Cannabis Act and its associated regulations.

The law doesn’t care whether or not you want to grow CBD-only cannabis — as far as the government is concerned, a cannabis plant is a cannabis plant, and cannabis production is a regulated activity that requires explicit government authorization in almost all cases. The only exception to that rule is the section of the Cannabis Act that permits adults to grow four cannabis plants at home.

Within that exception, Peter, you’re perfectly free to grow up to four high-CBD cannabis plants without breaking the law. The catch is, you’ll have to source your starting materials (seeds or seedlings) from a legal provider, and it might be tricky to find CBD-only cannabis seeds at this point.

For more information on finding cannabis seeds of legal provenance, check out the “Where do I get cannabis to grow?” section of our guide to legal home cannabis cultivation. That article also includes links to helpful information about various provincial and territorial laws around cannabis cultivation.

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, 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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