Cannabis legalization

Until federal legislation comes into effect, it is still against the law to possess, use, cultivate, or sell recreational cannabis in Nova Scotia.

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.

Legal age

The legal age will be 19 for cannabis use, purchase, cultivation, and possession.

Retail and distribution

Cannabis will be sold through the NSLC.

Road safety and impaired driving

Cannabis use of any kind in vehicles will be prohibited.

Consumption

Public consumption will be restricted by the Smoke-free Places Act.

Possession and cultivation

Adults will be allowed to have up to 30 grams of cannabis and grow up to four plants per household.

Medical cannabis

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 as they are for underage possession of alcohol. 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.

Fines will be established for persons who sell or distribute cannabis to a young person, involve a young person in an offence, sell or distribute a cannabis accessory to a young person, sell cannabis illegally, operate an unauthorized store that sells cannabis, purchase cannabis from someone other than the NSLC, and knowingly and sell or distribute cannabis to an individual who is, or appears to be, intoxicated.

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.

Fines will be established for persons who sell cannabis illegally, operate an unauthorized store that sells cannabis, purchase cannabis from someone other than the NSLC, and knowingly sell or distribute cannabis to an individual who is, or appears to be, intoxicated.

Store locations

The nine NSLC locations that will sell cannabis are:

  • Amherst – 26 South Albion 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
  • Sydney River – 95 Keltic Drive
  • Truro – 6 Court Street
  • Yarmouth – 104a Starrs Road

Online sales

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.

Products

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 province has not decided whether the NSLC will sell plants. 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.

Suppliers

The federal government licenses the growers and processors who supply to retail cannabis stores.

Cannabis dispensaries

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 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.

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.

Officers will have authority to decide how they handle drivers they suspect of being under the influence of cannabis. All drivers, including medical users, must not be impaired when driving.

Like alcohol, there will be zero tolerance for drivers in the Graduated Licence program.

Consumption

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 is being amended to add more protections from second-hand smoke, including playgrounds, sport and recreation venues, parks, and beaches. The Smoke-free Places Act applies to medical cannabis use.

Municipalities may pass bylaws that put additional restrictions in place.

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

Possession

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. 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.

Cultivation

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. Extra care is encouraged around how cannabis is cultivated, especially in a home with children.

Medical cannabis

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.