Whoa, duuuuude. It’s, like, 4/20 today. While you’re out there joining Willie and Woody and all our weed heroes celebrating, I’m here to like, totally bum you out man. Better turn on some Bob Marley or something while you read about all the ways you can get into trouble at the crossroads where weed and the internet meet.
Let’s start with a basic fact. Despite all the talk about how Canada is quite liberal regarding its weed and crime, marijuana possession, purchasing, sale, or growing is illegal in Canada. Point final (well, except for some medical exceptions). Cannabis (and its derivatives like sweet sweet Afghan hash) is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which is a law packed full of crimes! The Act says that even possessing weed can get you up to five years less a day (s. (4)(4)(a)). Drugs are bad, mmmkay?
So let’s talk about weed and the internet. It’s everywhere! A Google search for “Marijuana Canada” returns 36,700,000 results. That’s a lot of grass! There are all sorts of websites selling all sorts of things. And they are all pretty much fucked.
Obviously, selling actual weed over the internet would be illegal. Even if you think you could get around it by, say, hosting the website in The Netherlands and selling buds from Jamaica, if you are Canadian I still think you’d be guilty. You’re receiving the cash in Canada; that’s enough of a “real and substantial connection” for the Canadian courts to have jurisdiction.
But what about marijuana seeds? Take a look at a site like Single Marijuana Seeds Canada. What a selection! Interestingly enough, if you look at Schedule II that I just mentioned, marijuana seeds are not mentioned, except to say that non-viable seeds (i.e. hemp seeds that won’t have THC) are totally cool in the eyes of the law. But we have the Courts to add to the criminal law, and in R. v. Hunter, the B.C. Court of Appeal said that:
The exclusion of non-viable seeds appears to admit of no other inference or conclusion but that viable seeds are to be included in the definition of illegal substance.
So Hunter (who was selling seeds) lost his appeal. Booooo! While Hunter was selling seeds out of a retail shop, as I am sure I have said before, if it has application offline, it has application online. Selling or buying seeds online is illegal.
Selling drug paraphernalia online is a huge business. Just ask Tommy Chong. But is it illegal? Just ask Tommy Chong! Of course Tommy was in the States, so we need to look to Canadian law. Oh man this sucks. Here’s section 462.2 of the Criminal Code:
462.2 Every one who knowingly imports into Canada, exports from Canada, manufactures, promotes or sells instruments or literature for illicit drug use is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction
(a) for a first offence, to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both; or
(b) for a second or subsequent offence, to a fine not exceeding three hundred thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both.
Let’s parse out 462.2 a little bit, because laws are really fucking hard to read sometimes. If you remove some of the list and pull out some words, you get this:
Everyone who… promotes… literature for illicit drug use… is guilty
WTF??? That is totally harshing my buzz, man. Some have called this censorship, and they really could be right. What does this mean for the grandaddy of Canadian marijuana websites, Cannabis Culture? It means they’re fucked. I’m seeing promotion of literature all over that site.
Oh, and I should mention that “literature for illicit drug use” is defined in the previous section of the Criminal Code (462.1) and it includes videos. Think there are pro-weed videos on the internet? Search YouTube for “marijuana fun” and you get 12,800 results. Nice.
Let’s try an experiment. I am going to promote this video about making weed brownies. Awesome video! Promoting illicit drug use. On the internet.
Come and get me.