Is it legal to consume cannabis while camping in Canada?
- Parks Canada permits cannabis on private sites but not in common areas.
- Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta campsites are mostly weed-friendly.
- Keep quantities under 30 grams (unless you have a medical exemption).
- Smoking in the wrong areas can come with hefty fines.
For Canadians, dusting off the boxes of gear labelled “camping” and packing them into the car for a weekend in the woods is a rite of passage. Especially come summertime; nature is calling us to take full advantage of the sunshine and warm-ish lakes in these fleeting, warm-weather months.
Driving out of the city and immersing yourself in natural beauty provides instant stress relief, but sometimes you want a little extra support from that old friend. Though weed is legal nationwide, there are still some places (and people) that frown upon taking a hit and even getting a whiff of pot in public.
Baby steps, right?
“Each province has its own set of guidelines to follow when it comes to cannabis consumption in Canadian Parks,” explains Owen Allerton, co-owner of Highland Cannabis, a Kitchener, Ontario-based retailer.
“Generally speaking, cannabis use is acceptable in most front-country individual campsites and trails across Canada, but regulations vary from province to province.”
Here are four things you should know about camping with cannabis in Canada this summer:
You can smoke cannabis on most Parks Canada campsites, but not in communal areas
Smoking or using weed on a campsite that you’ve booked through Parks Canada is completely legal. Blaze it! This is because Parks Canada considers these registered sites private spaces; you can think of the designated area as your own backyard as you roll up or pack a bowl.
However, shared spaces on Parks Canada land, like washrooms, kitchen shelters, parking areas and roadways, national historic sites, and playgrounds, are cannabis no-go zones.
Additionally, a certain number of Parks Canada campgrounds abide by their own sets of rules and can choose whether or not to permit 4/20-friendly activities, even on registered sites.
It’s sort of the same way that some grounds will ban alcohol at various times of the year “in an effort to ensure that all visitors enjoy their stay,” a Parks member told CBC.
Ontario, BC, and Alberta have the most weed-friendly campgrounds
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta are top of the list of the most weed-friendly camping locations in the nation. All three provinces have an abundance of retail stores and stunning campgrounds.
In fact, two-thirds of campgrounds in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario have embraced pot, according to Highland Cannabis’ research, and these three provinces have relatively relaxed rules when it comes to where you can get high and use weed when camping and hiking.
In Ontario, you can consume cannabis in Parks Canada public areas like day-use swimming holes and backcountry trails, in addition to registered campsites. But consumption in public parks across Ontario isn’t allowed in common areas (washrooms, for example) or within 20 metres of a playground.
British Columbia and Alberta follow similar parameters. Day-use areas, registered campsites, trails and backcountry all get the green light to light up, but keep an eye out for fire ratings before you go in these parts. BC has experienced its fair share of devastating wildfires and you don’t want to be that jerk who causes a fire by carelessly tossing a butt into the woods.
Quebec and the Prairies have the least weed-friendly camping options
Quebec’s view on weed, much like the Prairies, “is a little strained,” says Allerton. “Although cannabis is legal across the country, it’s only legal in Quebec if you buy it through the Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQDC).”
Given these strict laws, it makes sense that the rules around using cannabis while camping in Quebec are also tough.
The only place you can smoke cannabis in Quebec is at certain Parks Canada campgrounds while on your registered campsite; you cannot smoke in any outdoor public space (campground or otherwise).
Fines for cannabis smoking infractions are steep, ranging from $750 to $2,250 if caught breaking the rules.
You can legally carry 30 grams of dried weed (or the equivalent) on you at one time
When stocking up on booze for a camping weekend, you can grab as much beer or wine as you want. With cannabis, limits work differently. In Canada, adults can have up to “30 grams of legal cannabis, dried or equivalent in non-dried form in public,” according to the Cannabis Act.
The “equivalent” is varied and based on the consumption method. For example, one gram of dried cannabis is equal to 15 grams of edibles, which means you can legally carry 450 grams of your favourite gummies. Concentrates, on the other hand, are equal to 0.25 grams of dried product, so you can have 7.5 grams of solid or liquid concentrated on you at one time.
Still, it’s important to note that private campgrounds and different municipalities have varying rules on how much you can carry and where it can be used. Do your research into the specific community and facilities before you go in order to avoid any confrontations.