Smoking Weed in Canada – A Visa and Immigration Perspective

You’ve probably heard that recreational marijuana will be legal in Canada on October 17, 2018. What you may not know is how this significant change will affect tourists, international students, temporary foreign workers, and those who intend to immigrate to Canada.

Before October 17, 2018

Recreational marijuana remains illegal until October 17. The existing “Controlled Drugs and Substances Act” recommends serious punishments for possession and trafficking of marijuana. As a result, if you are a foreign national who is convicted of marijuana use, possession, or trafficking in your home country or if you possess or traffic cannabis inside Canada, from Canada, or to Canada you could be inadmissible to our country (under subsection 36 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act).  Simply put, do not consider purchasing or smoking weed (or consuming edible marijuana) before the new changes come into effect.

On or After October 17, 2018

It is very likely recreational marijuana becomes legal in Canada on October 17, 2018. If this happens you may possess under 30 g of marijuana for personal use. You may also smoke weed without the fear of being prosecuted. However, keep the following points in mind.

  • Driving under the influence of cannabis remains illegal. The police will be equipped and authorized to use oral fluid drug screeners to make sure you are not under the influence of marijuana. The consequences could be serious for both permanent residents and foreign nationals. In fact, it may result in their deportation from Canada.  Read the following article for more information.
  • Beware of local regulations regarding the cannabis use (e.g. the provincial regulations or city bylaws may prevent you from using in certain locations or under certain circumstances). Violating local laws could have negative implications.
  • Possession for the purpose of trafficking remains illegal. As a foreign national you could become inadmissible to Canada or be deported from our country.
  • Changes in Canadian laws do not affect the laws of other countries. If you travel to Canada and smoke weed you may face prosecution back home. Remember that border officer of your home country could ask you questions about the use of marijuana or check out your cell phone or other handheld devices for pictures or texts. They may even use trained dogs or detection devices to scan your belongings. If you are a foreign national in your country of residence (for example you are in the United States on a work or study visa), you could lose your status and be deported from that country. Some countries may even initiate new screening measures for those who travel from Canada.

So while it seems exciting to many, the consequences of using cannabis in Canada could be complicated for foreign visitors, international students, and temporary foreign workers. Consider reading the following article as well:

If you wish to visit or move to Canada, please fill out our free assessment form. We will review the form for free, but we will contact you only if we find an opportunity for you. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session. Consultation sessions are not free, but you will receive formal advice from a licenced practitioner.

Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada


This article provides information of a general nature only. It may no longer be current. It does not give legal advice. Do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. We cannot be held responsible for the content of these articles. If you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. If you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment. All the characters in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Any resemblance in names, dates, and places (whether individuals, organizations, regions, or countries) is coincidental.

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Al Parsai

This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.