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The Tourist’s Guide to Canada’s Cannabis Culture

  • by Alfonso Colasuonno

The closing months of 2018 saw Canada legalize the recreational use of cannabis for its citizens. Tourists can also partake in the Great White North's newly established legal cannabis culture. Before you go out and buy your plane ticket, it’s a good idea to brush up on the specifics of how legalization in Canada works.

Canada’s Recreational Market

Although cannabis is legal in every Canadian province, its sale is heavily regulated. Legal cannabis is allowed to be sold only through dispensaries that are either government-owned and regulated (Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island) or from a combination of government stores and private enterprises (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador). Several provinces, including British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontariohave dedicated online cannabis retail with varying levels of age authentication. Alberta requires personal information that they’ll verify before you create an account. British Columbia and Ontario use a more lax verification method. Naturally, shopping online will require you to have an address, so if you have a friend you’re staying with, it might be best to have them order your cannabis ahead of time.

Finding a Dispensary

Of course, if you’re an authentic cannabis tourist then you’re going to want the “kid in a candy store” physical experience. Depending on which province you end up visiting, you’ll either have great difficulty or none at all in finding a dispensary. Canada has around 360 dispensaries, including planned locations that have yet to open. In comparison, the state of Colorado has over 560 cannabis stores. Of the 183 locations that were actually open at the start of 2019, 65 of them were in Alberta. 


One of the oddest aspects about Canadian legalization are the laws restricting where cannabis can be used. Many provinces (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, the Yukon) forbid consumption in any public space, including those where tobacco use is allowed. In these provinces, the smoking of any cannabis product is only allowed on private property. Even then, most hotels, Airbnbs, apartments, condos, and the like do not allow cannabis consumption in or around their properties. The whole situation is not exactly tourist friendly, but if you have a friend who owns property, they’ll probably let you smoke somewhere on it. Otherwise, your best bet is to simply find a secluded enough place outside and do what you like. Just remember to be a green tourist and don’t leave any litter wherever you end up smoking.

Not all provinces are particularly restrictive. In British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta, the rules around cannabis consumption are similar to tobacco use, albeit with a couple of added restrictions (no smoking in cars or boats, near schools or playgrounds, or any place where children frequent). Quebec’s current regulations mirror tobacco use in the province in every way; however, that may change in the future, so be sure to take a look at the latest legislation before you head over.

Legal Age

Canada's age regulations on who is allowed to purchase and use cannabis vary by province. Alberta and Quebec are currently the lowest at 18 years old, although Quebec might be changing their age to 21. Most provinces have set the limit at 19.

Three Favorite Destinations

What was once a Hershey's chocolate factory is now one of Canada's premier licensed cannabis producers. Known for their refinement of existing cultivars and their breeding of new genetics, Tweed sets the standard for Canadian cannabis. Best of all, their visitor center affords cannatourists the opportunity to visit their grow rooms and learn about both the science and history behind cannabis.

The Hotbox Lounge is Toronto's first cannabis-friendly lounge. They offer a patio area known as "the Potio" where you can consume cannabis on pleasant days and a vapor lounge available year-round (ideal during those frosty Canadian winters). The Hotbox Lounge features music and special events every night, so make sure to stop by during the evenings if you prefer to enjoy your cannabis in a lively atmosphere.

This top-notch dispensary sits in the heart of Calgary's trendy and historic Inglewood neighborhood. Aylmer Nelson's staff are some of the most knowledgeable and friendly budtenders in the North - or anywhere. While Alberta offers more options when it comes to cannabis than anywhere else in Canada, you can't go wrong with a visit to Aylmer Nelson. 

The Final Word

Everything listed above is just a taste of what Canada has to offer. The country is constantly progressing and as the cannabis scene evolves there are likely to be even more locations tailored specifically for the cannabis tourism crowd.

With all the information we’ve given you, the only thing left for you to do is book your tickets and start practicing your Canadian accent, eh!

Original post by Jake Cressy

Tagged with: Culture

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