Canada has had a legal national medical marijuana program for many years. In 2018, Canada became the second country to legalize cannabis for adult-use, following Uruguay. Today the medical and adult-use markets exist side by side with significant variation in the markets and regulations across the 10 provinces.
Legalization Dates:Medical: July 20, 2001
Adult-Use: 2018 via the Cannabis Act
Relevant Legislation & Regulation:Cannabis Act (Bill C-45 2018)
Bill C-46, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code
Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) (as of 2016)

Quebec has raised the legal age for adult-use to 21 while most other provinces have a minimum age of 19 or 18 (Alberta). For the first year of adult-use legalization, Health Canada restricted product forms to flower, creams and oils, consistent with previously approved medical cannabis forms. More recently vapes and other cannabis forms are able to receive Health Canada approval for sale.
National Regulatory Bodies:Health Canada
Licensing Model:Cultivation and processing licenses are managed nationally by Health Canada, with licensed organizations able to produce both medical and adult-use products.
Retail licensing is managed on a province-by-province basis with significant variations in the type and number of licensed stores and the role of the provincial government. Some provinces, such as Alberta, have an open licensing model for private retailers while others, such as Nova Scotia and Quebec, restrict cannabis retail sales to government stores. Ontario’s licensing approach has undergone multiple revisions under successive governments including a license lottery for retail licenses. Newfoundland has issued some private licenses while also opening some government stores.
Example Firms: Aurora Cannabis, Aphria (CBC interview with CEO Vic Neufeld, CEO Profile), Aqualitas (Nova Scotia aquaculture cultivator, Coast profile of CEO), Aurora Cannabis, Auxly, Broken Coast Cannabis, Canna Farms, CannTrust Holdings, Canopy Growth, Chronos Group, Emerald Botanicals, The Green Organic Dutchman, Hexo (which acquired Redecan), Hydropothecary (Quebec), MediPharm, Sundial Growers, Tilray, Truro Herbal Company (Nova Scotia), Wayland Group (formerly Maricann), Organigram (Moncton, NB), Spectrum Cannabis, Tokyo Smoke
Industry Associations:Canadian Cannabis Association, Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers (ACCRES), Cannabis Council of Canada, Canadian Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, Craft Cannabis Association of British Columbia
Market Size:Since adult-use legalization the market size in Canada has fallen short of expectations due to a combination of limited product forms (for the first year of legalization), limited retail outlets, and consumer dissatisfaction with price and quality. Health Canada provide regular market updates on both legal and non-legal cannabis sales.

Why legal pot was taking a hit in Canada, weeks before COVID-19 sent markets plunging (Maclean’s, April 2, 2020)
Why legal cannabis growers can’t compete with the black market – yet (Toronto Star, Feb 1, 2019)
Where’s the weed? Clues to Canada’s cannabis shortages (The Conversation, Jan 25, 2019)
Cannabis boom or bust: How US firms could be affected by Canada’s adult-use market (MJBizDaily, July 12, 2018)
National – How government is working to keep mail-order weed out of the hands of kids (Toronto Star, Sept 9, 2018)
Why the World Is Watching Canada’s Pot Legalization (Bloomberg, Sept 5, 2018)
Canada plans a crazy quilt of cannabis retailing rules (Economist, Aug 2, 2018)
Four issues to be resolved in cannabis legalization (Policy Options Magazine, July 12, 2018)
How the great pot reckoning will play out this fall (Globe & Mail Report on Business, July 9, 2018)
Canadian cannabis workers targeted by U.S. border guards for lifetime bans (Toronto Star, July 5, 2018)
Marijuana firms use creative marketing tactics to skirt strict regulations (Globe & Mail, April 2018)
Canada’s marijuana millionaires surprised by stock surge (Toronto Star, April 5, 2018)
Brownies and beer: How edible cannabis businesses plan to cash in on legalization (CBC, Feb 13, 2018)
Shoppers Drug Mart partners with producer Aphria for medical marijuana (Toronto Star, Dec 2017)
Trudeau vowed to legalize marijuana across Canada by July. It hasn’t been that easy (Oct 2017)
CBC article on changes to Cannabis Act (April 2017)
Time magazine feature (April 2017)
Alberta – City of Calgary receives hundreds of applications from people wanting to open cannabis retail stores (April 2018), Large American pot producer, retailer enters Canada with stake in Calgary startup (Calgary Herald, Nov 15, 2017), Puff, puff, pass: Alberta to allow dope-smoking on street corners (Oct 2017)
New Brunswick – Final Report of the Select Committee on CannabisUNB Announces Cannabis Health Research Chair (Aug 2017)
Newfoundland – Provincial Preview: Newfoundland’s cannabis entrepreneurs temper expectations (MJBizDaily, June 1, 2018) N.L. Liquor Corp calls for proposals from stores who want to sell pot (CBC, Feb 21, 2018), CBC article on taxation (Oct 2017),
Nova Scotia – 24 weeks later: a look at Nova Scotia’s weed industry (The Coast, April 4, 2019), Cannabis producer planning for 2018 market launch (Chronicle-Herald, Nov 2017), Wentworth company gets first N.S. go-ahead to grow (Truro Daily News, Nov 14, 2017), Province tight-lipped on how legal pot might be taxed (CBC, March 2017), Only legal weed you’ll find this spring is a dandelion, despite pot bill (CBC, April 2017), Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Symposium (May 26, 2017), Oct 2017 CBC article on retail format surveyArticle on Truro Herbal Company (Nov 2016)
Ontario – Weed stores near schools? Everything is near schools (Toronto Star, April 2018), Ont. pot producer Aphria launches new brand ahead of legalization (CBC, April 2018), Canopy Criticizes LCBO Plan (Sept 2017), Ontario LCBO plan announcement (Sept 2017), Toronto defers dispensary report again (Oct 2016)
Quebec – Quebec to use government stores to sell recreational cannabis (Oct 2017)
As of May 26, 2022
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