Reduce your risk: Choose legal cannabis
While cannabis is legal in Canada, illegal products are still being sold and consumed in Canada. Learn to recognize the differences between legal and illegal cannabis, and find out why it matters.
On this page
- Why you should choose legal cannabis
- How to recognize legal cannabis
- How to recognize illegal cannabis
Why you should choose legal cannabis
Adults of legal age may purchase legal cannabis products from authorized retailers in Canada.
Legal cannabis products must meet the requirements of the Cannabis Act and its regulations, which set out rules for product quality, promotion, packaging and labelling. If you choose to consume cannabis, reduce your risk by choosing legal cannabis products.
- is quality controlled and tested for harmful levels of contaminants
- is tested for accuracy of THC and CBD levels, so you know exactly what you're buying
- can be recalled by manufacturers, licence holders or Health Canada if there's a potential safety or quality issue
- is not tested or quality controlled and may contain harmful levels of contaminants, including:
- heavy metals
- cutting agents
- shows levels of THC and CBD that may be unknown, misleading or false
- may be produced and sold using products or practices that could harm you
- can contain harmful levels of THC, resulting in accidental poisonings, visits to the emergency department and hospitalizations, particularly in children
- could put you at risk for identity theft and financial fraud
How to recognize legal cannabis
Legal cannabis products for non-medical use are sold only by retailers authorized by a province or territory.
A legal cannabis product will always have certain information on its package and label. Look for these features to determine if a cannabis product is legal.
- Excise stamp with specific colours indicating the province or territory in which the product is intended to be sold
- Yellow box with a health warning message in English and French
- Standardized cannabis symbol
- Plain and child-resistant packaging (with the exception of plants and seeds)
- Nutrition facts table for edible cannabis
For more information on legal cannabis packaging and labelling, refer to How to read and understand a cannabis product label.
How to recognize illegal cannabis
Here are differences you can look for. An illegal product may:
- have a multi-colour package
- look like a popular brand of candy or snack food
- have a name that's similar to a popular brand of candy or snack food
- look like candy that might appeal to children, such as gummy bears
- have glitzy or flashy promotions or other types of publicity such as celebrity endorsements
- come in a package that:
- isn't child-resistant
- shows the product through the packaging
- not have:
- an excise stamp
- the standardized cannabis symbol
- a health warning message in English and French
- claim to contain more than 10 mg of THC per package (edibles only), which exceeds the maximum permitted in legal edible products.
THC limits for legal cannabis products
There are rules about how much THC is permitted in legal cannabis products. If a product claims to contain more THC than the allowed limit, then it's not a legal product.
The THC limits vary by legal cannabis product type:
- dried or fresh cannabis: no extra THC can be added (it can only contain as much THC as the plant produced)
- edible cannabis: maximum 10 mg of THC per container (no matter how many edibles are in the container)
- cannabis extracts for ingestion or inhalation (like capsules, or oils, or contained in vape pens): maximum of 1,000 mg of THC per container
- topicals: maximum 1,000 mg of THC per container
If you're concerned or have a complaint about a possible illegal cannabis retailer, contact your local law enforcement or nearest RCMP detachment.
- How to read and understand a cannabis product label
- Buying cannabis online (video)
- Authorized cannabis retailers in the provinces and territories
- Consumer information
- Submit a report on cannabis
- Reduce your risk: Choose legal cannabis (infographic)
- Public Advisory: Accidental ingestion of illegal 'copy cat' edible cannabis products causing serious harm to children
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