Medicinal Marijuana in Ontario

2018 has been quite a year for anyone who enjoys consuming marijuana either medically or recreationally in Canada. Complete legalization took effect all across the country on October 17, 2018 and ever since, suppliers have been struggling to keep up with the huge demand.

With both recreational and medicinal marijuana now available for legal purchase, it’s important to understand the legal differences and differing regulations that apply to each.

This is important as there are quite a few cases where the laws concerning recreational cannabis and medicinal cannabis are vastly different.

Recreational Marijuana Laws in Ontario

Recreational Marijuana Laws in Ontario

Once complete legalization came into effect in October of 2018, all provinces across Canada established their own rules and regulations concerning the purchase and consumption of recreational cannabis.

In Ontario, the minimum legal age required to purchase cannabis is 19 – the same age required to purchase alcohol or tobacco. As long as you’re at least 19 years of age, you may purchase recreational cannabis online from the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS). This is the only legally authorized retailer of marijuana in the province, although the government is looking into launching a private retail model by April 1, 2019. This retail model will of course be tightly regulated.

Ontario residents are able to order a maximum of 30 grams (just over one ounce) of dried cannabis at one time. This is the same amount that you will be legally allowed to carry in public at any time.

Medicinal Marijuana Laws in Ontario

The laws for acquiring a prescription for medical marijuana in Ontario are identical to everywhere else across Canada. The production and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes is exclusively regulated by the federal government.

You will first need your family physician to fill out the medical documentation required to register as a patient for medicinal marijuana. Once you have a valid prescription, there are only three ways to purchase your medicine in Ontario:

  • Online with a federally licensed producer
  • By written order
  • Over the phone – delivered by secure mail

It’s also possible to receive a license to grow your own medical marijuana from Health Canada, or to have someone designated to grow it for you.

Where Can You Use Cannabis in Ontario?

Compared with some of the other provinces and territories in Canada, residents of Ontario have quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to where they’re allowed to consume cannabis. The following rules about where you are allowed to smoke or vaporize cannabis apply to both recreational and medicinal marijuana use.

Where Can You Use Cannabis in Ontario

Ontario residents can smoke or vape marijuana in the following places:

  • Private residences – excluding those that are also used as a workplace, such as a retirement home
  • Most outdoor public spaces, such as sidewalks and parks
  • Guest rooms in hotels, motels, and inns – designated rooms only
  • Residential vehicles and boats that are parked or anchored -- other requirements may apply
  • Scientific research and testing facilities
  • Controlled areas in the following locations – long-term care homes, some retirement homes, residential hospices, provincially-funded housing, some psychiatric facilities, and some veterans facilities

Locations where individuals are not allowed to consume cannabis include:

  • Common areas located indoors in apartment buildings, non-designated guest rooms in hotels, motels, or inns, and enclosed public and/or work spaces
  • Within 20m of school grounds, playgrounds, or any other location where children gather – including locations where home childcare is provided, even when there are no children present
  • Within 9m of hospital, psychiatric facilities, independent facilities, or long-term care home entrances/exits
  • Any publicly owned spaces
  • In a vehicle or a boat that’s being operated – you could face harsh penalties if caught
  • A variety of other outdoor locations, including restaurant and bar patios, certain Ontario government office buildings, and others

It’s important to note that driving while under the influence of cannabis in Ontario is considered illegal and subject to similar penalties as drunk driving laws. These penalties could possibly include:

  • Suspension of license
  • Fines
  • Vehicle impoundment
  • Criminal record
  • Jail time

Police officers in Ontario also have zero tolerance for young drivers under the age of 21, individuals with a learner class license, or anyone driving a road-building machine caught driving while under the influence. In these cases, any amount of marijuana found in your system will get you into legal trouble.

It’s definitely better to be safe rather than sorry if you fall into one of these categories. Medicinal marijuana can be an incredibly helpful tool for patients in need. It’s just important to remember to take your medication responsibly – just as you would with any other kind of prescription medication.

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  1. I learned something here for using marijuana in Canada. Thanks for sharing.

  2. So its legal to smoke in “most” public places such as sidewalks and parks…
    But then it’s illegal to do it in “any” publicly owned spaces like sidewalks and parks?? Please clarify

    • Hi Mike, Thanks for the question:

      In the wake of Canada’s federal legalization of cannabis, Ontario marijuana laws are more or less in line with all national rules. Under current Ontario marijuana laws, people 19 years and older are allowed to purchase, possess, and consume both medical and recreational cannabis. Consumers are limited to 30 grams of cannabis at any one time. Under Ontario marijuana laws, it is legal to consume cannabis in the following places:

      In Ontaria it is LEGAL to smoke or vape marijuana in these locations:
      > Private residences
      > Outdoor public places, so long as it doesn’t violate any other consumption restrictions (e.g., consuming too close to a school, hospital, or care facility)
      > Designated smoking areas in hotels and motels
      > Residential vehicles and boats, so long as it meets other legal requirements for these types of vehicles
      > Research labs and testing facilities
      > Other controlled and specifically designated consumption spaces

      It is ILLEGAL in these areas:
      > Indoor common areas
      > Enclosed public spaces
      > Non-designated indoor spaces
      > Schools or other places where children commonly gather
      > Hospitals, hospices, care homes, and other care facilities
      > Publicly owned spaces
      > Outdoor public spaces that are too close to restaurants, bars, governmental buildings, sports and entertainment venues, recreational facilities and parks, sheltered outdoor areas such as bus shelters, and other restricted areas

      Smoking recreational cannabis is permitted wherever smoking tobacco is allowed. It is legal to consume marijuana in private residences, including porches and backyards. Renters can smoke inside units or on balconies unless prohibited by lease or property agreements.
      Breaking those rules is punishable by a $1,000 fine for a first offense and $5,000 for subsequent violations.
      Universities are considering their approaches, although many already have smoke-free policies for tobacco and vaping that will extend to cannabis.
      Proprietors and supporters of existing lounges, where medical marijuana has been consumed, hope to be allowed to permit recreational marijuana.
      It is illegal to consume cannabis in a vehicle or boat for all occupants, regardless of whether the vehicle is in motion. In a vehicle, cannabis must be stored in a sealed container that is not accessible to drivers or passengers during transport.

      My understanding of for public places is that smoking or vaping in outdoor public spaces would be restricted in ‘Publicly owned spaces’ which would likely include parks or maybe the outdoor areas around government buildings. This is a bit vague, but a literal interpretation of the rules also shows that ‘outdoor public places’ are ok ‘so long as it doesn’t violate any other consumption restrictions’ and ‘publicly OWNED spaces’ being illegal would add a fairly broad restriction. Bit of a catch 22 but I would think that using commonsense in public spaces would keep you out of trouble. A major and popular city park would probably be policed and this would be an illegal area under the interpretation. A little used public space being away from schools, hospitals and government building would probably be ok. Coastal areas near the sea or around a lake I would think would be fine. I would also suggest that national forest or park areas are fine too as long as you don’t consume at a heavily used public area like a popular barbecue spot. I would advise that as long as you are discreet and not upsetting people, especially when children are present, then you would be most likely left alone, but following the law is the wisest approach, even when it is a bit vague. I would also suggest that dry herb vaping is a more discreet use of marijuana outside in public spaces than the old-fashioned joint.

      Thanks Mike!

      Special thanks to for the latest legal detail for Ontario used in this reply

  3. Just figured it out, you should’ve put its legal to smoke wherever tobacco can publicly be smoked, and where tobacco is prohibited so is marijuana. Just trying to understand the laws
    Thank you for your website

    • Hi Mike,

      Yes, you’re right. Following the rules for tobacco consumption has you covered. I gave a detailed response to your first comment, so please check that one.

      Thanks for the visit Mike and thanks for taking the time to comment with a great question. Cheers!

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