You Could Still Be Arrested For Marijuana Possession After Legalization

Legalization, if done correctly, can resolve the issue of black market weed. This isn’t always the case, however. States such as California who are unable to establish all the trappings of a cannabis economy run into issues with illicit weed.

In these circumstances, the black market often persists and even thrives. In Ontario, the Doug Ford Administration has demonstrated its unpreparedness for the nearing October 17 date. This will make the presence of a black market more than likely.

This is equally true of a province like Quebec, where all the mechanisms for legalization are in place, but those mechanisms are subpar. If you plan to purchase your marijuana illegally after legalization, pay attention because discretion might still be the order of the day.

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What Will Happen if You’re Caught Smoking Black Market Pot?

Police haul away vast amounts of marijuana for simple possession charge in Canada
Despite legalization, you could still be arrested for a simple possession charge in Canada (image via weed wire)

If you’re caught smoking illegal weed, you might receive more than a slap on the wrist. One consequence might be a hefty fine. This would range anywhere in the neighborhood of $200 to $5000.

On the most extreme end of the spectrum, possession of illegal marijuana could merit 5 years in prison. That’s right, you could go to prison for simple possession of marijuana… After legalization.

This raises an important question. How will police be able to tell if your weed is legal or illegal?

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The primary method the police will rely on is packaging and proof of payment. In Canada post-legalization, police officers will have the right to demand your receipt and, the container your weed came in to determine if its black market. RCMP spokesman, Harold Pfleiderer had this to say on the subject,

“Original store packaging and proof of purchase from a cannabis retailer sanctioned by the province of purchase could constitute proof that the cannabis is licit,”

In a world where everyone keeps their receipt and packaging near and dear to their heart… In preparation for an interaction with police… This plan works flawlessly.

For those of us who like to dispose of their receipt and packaging, officers have a plan b. Police will then be able to ask you to describe the packaging your cannabis came in to judge the veracity of your claim.

Packed cannabis yields a simple possession charge in Canada
Police can demand to see the packaging of your cannabis, if you cannot produce it, you could face a simple possession charge in Canada (image via The Smoking Bud)

This truly brilliant enforcement strategy is all well and good… Unless you happen to have seen a weed package in your life and are capable of describing it. For those with a working memory, this strategy is completely useless.

The second flaw in this plan is that not all legal marijuana, under the Trudeau administration’s plan, needs to be purchased from a dispensary.

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What About Home Grown Weed?

The Federal Government will permit you to grow as many as four pot plants. If you’ve seen how large cannabis plants can grow, you know that’s a significant amount of marijuana.

What will the police do if a smoker of illicit weed simply claims they grew their product themselves? This would alleviate the need to produce packaging or receipt surely. For this excuse, the RCMP has devised an equally as brilliant strategy. Sgt. Pfleiderer had this to say in the matter,

“A police officer can ask questions to this individual as to how the dried cannabis was made… Were there solvents used? How did the plant come into being, i.e. how did they obtain the seeds; did any youth help in growing the plants?”

Admittedly, growing cannabis is more difficult than one might imagine. There are undoubtedly aspects to the process, that only one who grows their own weed is liable to know. On this front, Canadian law enforcement seems to have all its bases covered.

This says nothing, however, of those who will claim that a friend, who legally grew or bought the dried cannabis, simply gifted it to them.

home grown weed and possession under 30 grams Ontario
Homegrown weed can produce large yields, thus making it difficult for police to determine the source of black market cannabis especially for possession under 30 grams in Ontario (image via PrioNet Canada)

This might be the perfect excuse for those who acquired their cannabis illicitly. Even in provinces such as Quebec and Manitoba that do not permit homegrown weed, 30 grams of cannabis remains the maximum amount one can be possessed. Claiming that you simply have generous friends, could be the legal loophole that black market purchasers of weed need.


While police have equipped themselves with the correct punishments and all the right question to sniff out users of black market cannabis… It appears that the Canadian government’s plan is no more than a paper tiger.

Using law enforcement in this scenario seems questionable, and petty… even laughable. Ultimately it represents a step in the wrong direction and a misappropriation of tax dollars. Prohibition has taught us that to fight black market cannabis with law enforcement, is to swim upstream. The only viable option to defeat black market weed is to establish a system of sales and distribution that is so effective that the black market can simply not compete.

By: Stefan Hosko
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