Cannabis legalization

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

The province is using feedback collected from public consultations, as well as the experiences of other jurisdictions, to make key decisions about the legalization of cannabis. This follows the federal government’s decision to legalize recreational cannabis by July 2018.

In creating a well-regulated legal market, our first priority is the health and safety of Nova Scotians, especially children and youth. That means:

  • keeping cannabis out of the hands of children
  • keeping impaired drivers off the roads
  • keeping profits out of the hands of organized crime

The province plans to make additional announcements about the legalization of cannabis as decisions are finalized. Government will continue to review the feedback it received through consultation as it develops the plans and strategy going forward. This website will be updated as announcements are made.

Legal age

The Province of Nova Scotia has set a legal age of 19 for cannabis use, purchase, and possession.

Throughout its consultation, the province heard differing views on what the legal age should be. A legal age of 19 strikes a balance between keeping cannabis out of the hands of youth, protecting the health of young people, and restricting the illegal market.

Nineteen aligns the legal age for cannabis with the legal age for alcohol and brings Nova Scotia in line with New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Distribution and retail

The distribution and sale of cannabis will be through the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) both online and in existing NSLC stores. The NSLC has the experience and expertise to distribute and sell restricted products, ensuring the province’s public health and safety goals are achieved.

For July 2018, we expect to have cannabis available in a number of stores, as well as online. Future expansion will be based on supply and demand.

During consultations, stakeholders were overwhelmingly in favour of a public distribution and retail model. They told us that the NSLC allows Nova Scotia to best protect children and youth, and that it made sense to use a crown corporation that already has retail experience and infrastructure. In the online survey 49% of respondents agree or somewhat agreed with this approach.

Personal possession

Nova Scotia intends to allow adults to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, in line with federal legislation and with the approach taken by many other provinces. The legal age of 19 applies to possession, as well as purchase and consumption.

Young people – those under the legal age of 19 – will not be allowed to purchase or posses any cannabis. Youth found with less than 5 grams will be subject to seizure of the cannabis, notification of parents or guardians, and fines similar to those for underage possession of alcohol or tobacco. There may also be a restorative justice approach. This approach treats youth possession of cannabis similar to alcohol or tobacco.

The federal legislation treats possession of more than 5 grams by those under 18 as a criminal offence. These offences will be prosecuted under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, as is the current process for youth drug offences.

Cultivation

Nova Scotia intends to allow adults to grow up to four plants per household, in line with federal legislation and many provinces.

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