Until federal legislation comes into effect, it is still against the law to possess, use, cultivate, or sell recreational cannabis in Nova Scotia. Except for rules around amending current leases to address cannabis and Part 1 of the Act expanding the NSLC mandate to include cannabis, the province’s legislative framework will not come into effect until federal legislation is proclaimed.
Recreational cannabis is being legalized in Canada. In creating a well-regulated legal market, our priority is the health and safety of Nova Scotians, especially children and youth.
The province has considered feedback from Nova Scotians, experts, and stakeholder groups, as well as decisions made by other jurisdictions. Read about our cannabis consultation to learn more about how we made these decisions.
The legal age will be 19 for cannabis use, purchase, cultivation, and possession.
Cannabis will be sold through the NSLC.
Cannabis use of any kind in vehicles will be prohibited.
Public consumption will be restricted by the Smoke-free Places Act.
Adults will be allowed to have up to 30 grams of cannabis and grow up to four plants per household.
These rules will not impact the way medical patients access cannabis.
The legal age for cannabis use, purchase, cultivation, and possession in Nova Scotia will be 19. Persons under the age of 19 can be fined or criminally prosecuted if they’re caught with cannabis.
- If a person under the age of 19 is found with less than five grams of cannabis, the cannabis will be seized, their parents or guardians may be notified, and they will be fined no more than $150. Restorative justice may also be an option.
- Possession of more than five grams by a youth under the age of 18 will be prosecuted as a criminal offence, the way youth drug possession is now.
A person who:
- sells or distributes cannabis to a young person may be fined up to $10,000
- involves a young person in the commission of an offence may be fined up to $10,000
Retail and distribution
Cannabis will be sold through the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC), both online and in existing NSLC stores.
Corporate social responsibility will be a core value that guides how the NSLC sells cannabis. The NSLC will comply with all federal requirements with regards to how cannabis is sold and advertised.
- Staff will be trained to help customers make informed, responsible choices.
- Signs will educate customers about the dangers of using cannabis and alcohol together.
- There will be no cross-promotion of alcohol and cannabis.
- Cannabis products will be sold in a separate area where they won’t be visible from the rest of the store. Youth under 19 will not be allowed in this section.
For more information, visit the NSLC’s cannabis website.
The NSLC will be the sole authorized seller of cannabis in Nova Scotia. A person who:
- sells cannabis illegally may be fined up to $10,000
- operates an unauthorized store that sells cannabis may be fined no less than $10,000 and up to $25,000
- purchases cannabis from someone other than the NSLC may be fined up to $250
- knowingly sells or distributes cannabis to an individual who is, or appears to be, intoxicated may be fined up to $1,000
The twelve NSLC locations that will sell cannabis are:
- Amherst – 126 South Albion Street
- Antigonish – 151 Church Street
- Bridgewater – 274 Dufferin Street
- Dartmouth – 650 Portland Street
- Halifax – 5540 Clyde Street
- Halifax – 3601 Joseph Howe Drive
- Lower Sackville – 752 Sackville Drive
- New Glasgow – 610 East River Road
- New Minas – 9256 Commercial Street
- Sydney River – 95 Keltic Drive
- Truro – 6 Court Street
- Yarmouth – 104a Starrs Road
Nova Scotians 19 and older will be able to order cannabis online and have it delivered to their homes. Identification will be required to be shown at the time of delivery.
Following Health Canada legislation, NSLC will sell:
- dried and fresh cannabis
- cannabis oil
- cannabis seeds
Specific brands and strains will be determined with suppliers. The NSLC will also sell a limited selection of accessories.
Private stores may sell cannabis accessories. Under federal legislation, if young people are allowed in the store, the accessories must be out of view, similar to tobacco. It will be an offence to sell a cannabis accessory to someone under 19 years of age.
The federal government licenses the growers and processors who supply to retail cannabis stores.
Selling medical or recreational cannabis from a storefront is illegal. These stores will remain illegal in Nova Scotia.
Road safety and impaired driving
Cannabis use of any kind in vehicles, including motorized boats, will be prohibited by the province. Drivers (including medical users) cannot be impaired while driving, passengers cannot use cannabis in any form in the vehicle, and cannabis must be stored in a closed, fastened package and out of reach or not readily available to anyone in the vehicle. This is in line with restrictions on alcohol in vehicles. A person may be fined up to $2,000 for consumption in a vehicle or improper storage.
Through amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act, the province is putting administrative sanctions, like license suspension, in place to ensure road safety. Corresponding federal law may also apply, resulting in additional penalties including imprisonment.
The Criminal Code sets out that drivers suspected of impaired driving may be required to undergo a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST), which involves coordination tests in combination with previously observed driving evidence. If the driver fails the SFST, a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE officer) may conduct additional tests at a secondary location to determine if the driver is impaired.
After completing an SFST, if an officer believes they have grounds to lay a charge of impaired driving, the driver’s licence is immediately suspended for 24 hours. The driver is ordered to provide a bodily fluid sample and a charge for impaired driving is pending, subject to results. If the results confirm impairment under the Criminal Code, a charge is laid and the person’s license is suspended for 90 days.
When someone is convicted of impaired driving, the driver is subject to the following penalties:
- First offence – fine of not less than $1,000 and a one-year licence suspension
- Second offence (within 10-year period) – imprisonment of up to 30 days and a three-year licence suspension
- Third offence (within 10-year period) – imprisonment of up to 120 days and a five-year licence suspension
- Fourth offence (within 10-year period) – indefinite revocation
Additional penalties may apply if there is bodily harm or death, a child is proven to be in the vehicle (additional 12-month revocation), or the driver has frequent driving suspensions. Drivers must also pay a licence reinstatement fee.
After completing an SFST, if an officer has reason to suspect a driver is under the influence of drugs, but does not have the grounds to lay a criminal charge, they have the authority to immediately suspend a driver’s licence for:
- First incident – seven days
- Second incident – 15 days
- Third incident – 30 days
This is a similar approach to drivers who have alcohol in their system but are below the criminal legal limit. Drivers must also pay a licence reinstatement fee.
Like alcohol, there will be zero tolerance for drivers in the Graduated Licence program.
Public consumption of cannabis will be restricted by the Smoke-free Places Act. The Act currently prohibits smoking of any kind (including cannabis and vaping) in all indoor public places and workplaces, and in many outdoor spaces, including school and daycare grounds, bar and restaurant patios, and within four metres of an entrance or air intake.
The Act will be updated to add more protections from second-hand smoke, including:
- on or within 20 meters of playgrounds located in an outdoor public space
- on or within 20 meters of a publicly owned sport and recreation event or venue, located in an outdoor public space
- on and within nine meters of public trails
- in provincial parks and on provincial beaches, except for within the boundaries of a rented campsite
- in vehicles used as part of one’s job or work; this does not apply to a personal vehicle used for work purposes if they are the only person using the vehicle for work purposes.
A person may be fined up to $2,000 for violating the Smoke-free Places Act.
Municipalities may pass bylaws that put additional restrictions in place.
There are no legislated restrictions on cannabis consumption in private residences.
Landlords have the authority to amend leases to put reasonable rules in place about recreational cannabis smoking, as defined in the Smoke-free Places Act, and cultivation. Landlords must provide four months’ written notice of this change to the tenant before April 30, 2019. When the landlord provides this notice, the tenant may then choose to terminate the lease. The tenant has one month to give the landlord three months’ written notice to terminate. For more information and forms, visit Service Nova Scotia.
Possession and cultivation
Adults 19 and older will be allowed to have up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or equivalent in their possession when outside their home. Federal legislation sets fines and other penalties for possession above this amount, which vary depending on the amount of cannabis in possession. There will be no restrictions on how much cannabis you can keep at home or how you need to store cannabis in your home. Extra care is encouraged around how cannabis is stored, especially in a home with children and pets.
Adults will be allowed to grow up to four plants per household. Federal law defines a household as a "dwelling house." In general, each apartment in a house or larger building is considered a separate household. Federal legislation sets fines and other penalties for cultivation of more than four plants, which vary depending on the amount of plants. Extra care is encouraged around how cannabis is cultivated, especially in a home with children and pets.
The legalization of recreational cannabis will not affect the way medical patients access cannabis.
If you’ve been authorized by your health care practitioner and Health Canada to access cannabis for medical purposes, you’ll still be able to buy cannabis from a licensed producer, grow your own cannabis for your medical use, or designate someone to grow it for you. Medical cannabis will continue to be regulated by Health Canada.
The Smoke-free Places Act applies to medical cannabis use. The rules around cannabis in vehicles will also apply.