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What will happen if I grow pot in a province where it's illegal?

Our cannabis advice columnist hits the law books to help a reader understand the consequences of illegal cannabis cultivation in certain provinces after legalization.

This article was published 28/2/2018 (828 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Dear Herb: After July 1, 2018, the rest of Canada with the exception of Manitoba and Quebec will be allowed to grow four marijuana plants at home.

If someone in Manitoba has four plants, and is charged and convicted, is there a mandatory jail sentence imposed? What about ten plants? — Weighing the Risks

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

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

Dear Weighing the Risks: First off, the July 1 date for cannabis legalization appears to be off the table, as the Senate is taking more time than initially expected to debate Bill C-45.

I'm sure a number of Manitobans and Quebeckers are wondering about the future consequences of disobeying those provinces' plans to make recreational home cultivation illegal after legalization. I'm going to answer your question for readers in both provinces.

Quebec's Bill 157 makes the future penalties for illegal recreational home cultivation very clear: "Anyone who (cultivates) four cannabis plants or less in their dwelling-house commits an offence and is liable to a fine of $250 to $750. Those amounts are doubled for a subsequent offence."

The situation in Manitoba is a bit more complicated. The relevant provincial legislation is Bill 11, The Safe and Responsible Retailing of Cannabis Act, which has not yet passed into law. Bill 11 will amend Manitoba's existing Liquor and Gaming Control Act to include cannabis.

Right now, an individual who violates that act faces a summary conviction offence, with penalties including "a fine of not more than $50,000, imprisonment for up to six months, or both." If Bill 11 becomes law in its current form, those penalties will be doubled to a fine of up to $100,000 and/or a year in prison.

That's not the whole story, though.

On Dec. 5, 2017, when the Manitoba government introduced Bill 11, a pair of senior provincial civil servants briefed journalists on how the new law will work.

They said certain offences under the new law could be punishable by tickets under the Provincial Offences Act, just like certain liquor offences. Manitobans caught growing between one and four cannabis plants at home might face those provincial tickets, suggested one of the civil servants, or they might face the new, harsher provincial penalties. Those decisions, the bureaucrat told reporters, would be made by the police laying the charges.

In your old pal Herb's opinion, Manitobans will have to wait and see exactly how local law enforcement deals with illegal home growing before they can decide whether the penalties are worth the risks.

You also asked about growing ten plants at home. If the federal Cannabis Act becomes law, growing more than four cannabis plants at home for recreational purposes will be illegal under the Criminal Code of Canada in any province or territory.

Individuals growing more than four plants could face big penalties from federal prosecutors. The lesser, summary conviction offence includes a fine of up to $5,000, and/or up to six months in jail. The more serious indictable offence carries a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment.

Two final notes: The Leaf News has reported on how Manitoba and Quebec could be setting themselves up for a legal fight with the federal government over recreational home cannabis cultivation. You might be interested in reading about it.

And for green thumbs out there who will be legally permitted to grow their own, you might be interested in reading our feature about what it takes to grow your own supply.

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.  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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