Can you legally grow your own pot? Yes – but no. At least for now. Here’s why

One of the questions Parliament struggled with was whether Canadians should be allowed to grow their own marijuana.


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Should there be a one-metre height limit on plants? That was rejected as impractical. Should provinces be allowed to ban home grows? (Ottawa said no; Manitoba and Quebec disagree; a judge will probably have to settle the issue sooner or later.)

Provinces that allow home grows have set rules of their own — in B.C, for example, plants can’t be visible to the public and in New Brunswick, they have to be in a locked enclosure.

So, after all that discussion, can you actually try out your gardening skills and start growing your own? Short answer: no.

Here’s the catch: your plants would only be legal, under federal law, if you grew them from seeds you legally bought. Right now, there’s no legal source of seeds.

Marijuana retailers, mostly governments so far, would have to buy them from licenced producers, and they haven’t made any available.

“I would expect it to happen within the next three to six months,” says Deepak Anand, an executive at Cannabis Compliance Inc., a consulting company.

The federal government is issuing “nursery licences” to small-scale producers who want to sell seeds or live plants. They can source their seeds from the bigger licenced producers or from abroad from countries like Jamaica or Uruguay (which Anand calls “not a terribly complex process”). They’re also allowed to buy seeds from grey-market producers, on a one-off basis — they have to declare them once when the licence is applied for, and not ever buy any more after that.

“We probably have hundreds of clients that are very interested in the nursery licences, specifically,” Anand says.

Canopy Growth, Canada’s largest licensed producer, promises seeds next spring.

“I can’t speak for all producers, but we’re going to launch ours closer to the time in the year when people plant seeds,” Canopy Growth’s Jordan Sinclair wrote in an email. “Late winter we’ll launch to the market so people can have them to plant in the spring.”

Sinclair did not agree to be interviewed.

The nursery licence system helps avert a situation where the big licensed producers refuse to sell seeds to the public, Anand says,

“It would be foolish for licensed producers to sit there and not partake in this system of selling to provinces. They could certainly delay it, and kick the can further down the line, but they’re not going to be able to avoid getting out of this issue.”

“I don’t expect this monopoly that currently exists to last very long.”

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis will sell seeds ” … whenever (LPs) are able to produce them and give them to us,” said spokesperson Chara Goodings.

As for when that might happen, “We have no idea – not a clue. We’re just trying to deal with the shortage issue at the moment.”

She is skeptical about the AGLC selling live plants any time soon.

“The logistics of trying to support live plants would be ridiculous.”

“If you think of the upkeep that would go into storing live plants, the warehousing space would be astronomical. You’d have to have a temperature-controlled area, watering, all of that.”

Cannabis NB is “working closely with suppliers to eventually add seeds to our portfolio” but wasn’t sure when that would happen, spokesperson Marie-Andrée Bolduc wrote in an email.

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