What you need to know about legally ordering marijuana online

As of Oct. 17, each person of legal age in their province can legally purchase and possess 30 grams of marijuana.

But in many communities, retail cannabis stores won't be open right away. That could push people to online sales.

Canada Post, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Health Canada all declined interviews on the topic, but did provide statements to CBC News about online shopping for cannabis. 

How will online cannabis orders and delivery be policed?

From the RCMP: Canada Post has standard operating procedures in place related to the inspection of mail while in transit.

From Canada Post: Canada Post has been delivering medical cannabis safely since 2013. Canada Post will follow the law, regulations and any guidelines from the federal government and also from the provincial and territorial governments, which will oversee the sale and distribution in their respective provinces and territories. 

Once recreational cannabis is legalized, it will be the responsibility of licensed distributors to ensure their shipments, including packaging and labelling, follow the laws and regulations of the federal and provincial governments.

Is there a concern from police that this will lead to an increase of other drugs moving through the mail?

From the RCMP: The RCMP's federal policing program investigates the most severe threats to the safety and security of Canada. The majority of ongoing organized crime investigations are related to drug trafficking and are linked directly or indirectly to transnational criminal organizations.

The RCMP will continue to monitor, track and assess the evolution of criminal organizations' methods and tactics, including the use of the mail system to delivery illicit materials.

We cannot predict what will happen with the illicit cannabis market when cannabis becomes legal. Fentanyl has been an issue, though.

In response, the RCMP has implemented a national investigative strategy to be completed in partnership with [the Canada Border Services Agency], Canada Post, Health Canada and law enforcement partners (municipal, provincial and international). 

Key activities include:

  • Gathering information and data to identify shipping and manufacturing trends, international exporters, domestic distributors, clandestine labs and criminal networks.
  • Raising awareness among law enforcement agencies and the public.
  • Collaborating with international partners to combat illegal drug trafficking networks and disrupt the flow of fentanyl into Canada.
  • Co-ordinate information sharing between partners.

In addition, the RCMP-led Joint Operations Centre (JOC), a partnership with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Canada Post Corporation, leverages each agency's investigative tools to supply intelligence on both domestic and international fentanyl shipments.

In particular, the JOC focuses on synthetic opioid seizures from mail sorting facilities in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.

Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images

Will the RCMP and Canada Post be monitoring drug activity via mail?

From the RCMP: Canada Post has standard operating procedures in place related to the inspection of mail while in transit. The RCMP will continue to provide assistance to Canada Post, when required.

For instance, Canada Post may request the assistance of the RCMP when recovering and identifying suspected illegal contraband found in packaged mail.

Also, the RCMP may seek a judicial authorization to search mail as part of a criminal investigation. 

From Canada Post: We will work with licensed distributors to ensure they are fully aware of the expectations and requirements.

Most of our procedures are in place for medicinal marijuana and we continue to enhance our approach.… As is the case today, if a parcel in our delivery network is emitting a strong odour due to improper packaging, the item will be removed from our delivery network to reduce safety concerns.

If we intercept an item or deem it to be suspicious, our postal inspectors will work with local law enforcement as we do today.

Some online sites sell edibles, even though they can't be legally sold (for now). Can I order them anyway?

Health Canada: Edibles will remain illegal until regulations are developed and brought forward as noted here.

According to the Cannabis Act … you are allowed to make your own, "legal cannabis-containing products at home, such as food and drinks, provided that dangerous organic solvents are not used in making them."

If you've ordered a significant amount of cannabis and it has been stolen, should you report it?

From the RCMP: If you feel you have been the victim of a crime, you can report it to your police of jurisdiction.

How will people know they will be buying from a safe, licensed source?

From Health Canada: The only safe sources are from the licensed producers listed on our site and the provincial and territorial sources that have been communicated by those jurisdictions.

Any problems with products should be reported to the licensed producer or provincial/territorial authority they were purchased from.

How is marijuana ordered online delivered to ensure it is going to someone of legal age?

From Canada Post:  For all shipments of recreational cannabis from a licensed seller that we deliver or [are] picked up at a postal outlet, proof of age will be mandatory, as it is for other regulated products. The required minimum age to receive recreational cannabis is defined by each province and territory.

If the receiver appears to be younger than 25 years old, our trained delivery agent will require an acceptable photo ID … before handing the parcel to the individual. The proof of age requirement means we must also record the name and signature of the receiver.

All cannabis shipments will continue to require the use of a trackable service. Therefore, the sender, the receiver and Canada Post can track the package as it works its way through our processing and delivery network.

Detailed commercial and packaging guidelines based on federal and provincial requirements will be made available to licensed distributors, ensuring the parcel can be safely processed through the delivery network once inducted to a Canada Post facility.