What you need to know about cannabis

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Public education resources

A number of tools and resources are available with information about cannabis.

The legalization and regulation of cannabis

On October 17, 2018, the Cannabis Act came into force.

It puts in place a new, strict framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in Canada.

The Cannabis Act will:

  • prevent youth from accessing cannabis
  • displace the illegal cannabis market

Protecting the health and safety of youth is a top priority. Be aware that the Cannabis Act establishes serious criminal penalties for those who sell or provide cannabis to youth. It also establishes a new offence and strict penalties for those who use youth to commit a cannabis offence.

In addition, the Act also prohibits:

  • products that are appealing to youth
  • packaging or labelling cannabis in a way that makes it appealing to youth
  • selling cannabis through self-service displays or vending machines
  • promoting cannabis that could entice young people to use cannabis, except in narrow circumstances where it will not be seen by a young person

Adult possession of cannabis

Store cannabis securely and away from children and youth.

The Cannabis Act protects public health and safety by:

  • setting rules for adults to access quality-controlled cannabis
  • creating a new, tightly regulated supply chain

Adults who are 18 years or older (depending on province or territory) are able to:

  • possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis, dried or equivalent in non-dried form in public
  • share up to 30 grams with other adults
  • purchase cannabis products from a provincial or territorial retailer
  • grow up to 4 plants per residence (not per person) for personal use from licensed seeds or seedlings

Possession, production and distribution, and sale outside of what the law allows remain illegal and subject to criminal penalties, ranging from ticketing up to a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

Laws in your area

Each province and territory also has its own rules for cannabis, including:

  • legal minimum age
  • where adults can buy it
  • where adults can use it
  • how much adults can possess

You must respect the laws of the province, territory or Indigenous community you are in, whether you are a visitor or live there.

Municipalities may also pass bylaws to regulate the use of cannabis locally.

Review your provincial and territorial guidelines. Also check your municipality's website for local information.

Identifying legal cannabis products

Legal cannabis products are only sold through retailers authorized by your provincial or territorial government.

Legal cannabis products have an "excise stamp" on the package. The stamp has security features to prevent forgery, just like passports and banknotes.

Each province and territory has a different coloured excise stamp.

Legal cannabis products will also carry the standardized cannabis symbol and mandatory health warning messages to provide information on risks of use.

Initially, adults will be able to legally purchase fresh and dried cannabis, cannabis oils and seeds or plants for cultivation from authorized retailers.

Other products, such as edible products and concentrates, will be legal for sale approximately one year after the Cannabis Act has come into force and federal regulations for their production have been developed and brought into force.

Travelling

It's illegal to take cannabis across the Canadian border, whether you're coming into Canada, or leaving. This applies to all countries, whether cannabis is legal there or not.

Consuming cannabis

Edibles and concentrates are not yet legal for purchase in Canada.

If you have any health issues or have questions about the effects of cannabis on your health you should speak to your health care provider.

If you use cannabis, learn how to use it responsibly and reduce risks for yourself and others. In general, start low and go slow.

  • Start with small amounts
  • Choose products with a low amount of THC and an equal or higher amount of CBD
  • Avoid combining cannabis with alcohol and/or other substances as this increases impairment
  • Use cannabis in a safe and familiar environment and with people you trust
  • Avoid smoking cannabis
  • Avoid frequent use
  • Don't drive or go to work impaired

Cannabis health effects

Cannabis, like alcohol and tobacco, poses a number of health risks.

The brain does not stop developing until around age 25. The younger you are when you begin cannabis use and the more often and the longer you use it, the more likely that it will have a bigger impact on your brain.

At any age, cannabis use affects the way the brain functions. This includes impacts on:

  • attention
  • memory
  • learning

You should not use cannabis if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It poses a risk to the fetus or new born child. Heavy cannabis use has been linked to lower birth weight.

There may also be other health risks associated with cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Substance use disorder

You should not use cannabis if you have a predisposition to or family history of psychosis or problematic substance use.

Cannabis can be addictive.Footnote 1 Close to 1 in 3 people who use cannabis will develop a problem with their use. Close to 1 in 10 people who use cannabis will develop an addiction to it. This statistic rises to about 1 in 6 for people who started using cannabis as a teenager.Footnote 2

Cannabis addiction can cause serious harm to your:

  • health
  • social life
  • school work
  • work and financial future

If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder with cannabis or other drugs, help is available.

Growing cannabis

You may not sell the cannabis you grow at home to others.

At home

The Cannabis Act permits adults to cultivate up to 4 cannabis plants per household (not per person). Provinces and territories may apply added restrictions on personal cultivation.

There are recommended safety and security measures for growing cannabis plants.

Growing for sale

You need to be authorized by Health Canada to be able to grow cannabis for sale.

In some cases, you may also need a licence from the Canada Revenue Agency to sell cannabis. Legal cannabis products must carry an excise stamp.

Access to cannabis for medical purposes

We are committed to keeping a distinct system for giving patients reasonable access to cannabis for medical purposes.

Cannabis for medical purposes will continue to be legal if you are:

  • authorized by a health care provider
  • registered with a licensed seller or with Health Canada

Funding for cannabis public education and research

We fund community-based and Indigenous public education and research initiatives. To apply for funding please see the Substance Use and Addictions Program - Call for Proposals - Guidelines for Applicants.

Drug-impaired driving

Drug-impaired driving is illegal. Do not drive high.

Law enforcement is trained to detect drug-impaired driving.

Learn more about detecting drug-impaired driving under Cannabis impairment.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: The current state of evidence and recommendations for research. Washington, D.C.: National Academies.

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Footnote 2

Volkow ND, Baler RD, Compton WM, Weiss SR. Adverse health effects of marijuana use. N Engl J Med 2014 Jun 5;370(23):2219-27.

Return to footnote 2 referrer