Recreational marijuana usage became legal for adults in Canada yesterday – October 17 – as the Cannabis Act officially ended prohibition.
The ramp up to that legalization date impacted nearly all sectors of public and private life, from some apartment complex owners discouraging marijuana use to calls from former pro players for changes to NHL cannabis policies.
Adults are allowed to carry up to 30 grams of marijuana, but driving under the influence, or driving while actively smoking marijuana, remains illegal.
Police forces around the nation engaged in extra training for officers on methods for testing drivers who may be impaired by cannabis.
It didn’t take long for that training to be needed, as Winnipeg police officially issued the first citation for consuming cannabis in a car a mere hour after legalization went into effect yesterday morning.
According to a report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the first ticket was issued during a routine traffic stop at 1 a.m.
Winnipeg Police Service traffic division Insp. Gord Spado commented: “An hour into legality, and something illegal happens.”
Spado went on to clarify that any marijuana usage – including consuming an edible – is prohibited while operating a motor vehicle.
“If somebody has an edible in a car and we can prove it, that’s also an offense,” Spado said. “Sometimes we can prove it, sometimes we can’t. And when edibles are legally produced commercially, then it might be a little bit easier, because there’ll be packaging and things like that that might be visible.”
Based on the time of the offense, the driver who was issued Winnipeg’s first citation almost certainly purchased the marijuana illegally prior to the Cannabis Act going into effect.
“It doesn’t look like anything was pursued as far as the illicit component of it goes,” Spado said. “I think that’s just the education piece of our members, knowing where to go with that. It’s still new to us, too, so we’re still learning.”
According to an update to the official Manitoba government website, smoking in provincial parks, transporting cannabis that isn’t properly stored, or supplying cannabis to a person under 19 years old are all punishable by stiff fines.