What you need to know about cannabis

Cannabis is not legal yet

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Laws about cannabis

When it will be legal

The Cannabis Act has received Royal Assent. Until October 17, 2018, it remains illegal to buy, possess or use cannabis for anything other than authorized medical or research purposes.

Between now and coming into force, there will be a transition period for:

  • the federal government
  • provinces and territories
  • the regulated industry and
  • law enforcement

Law enforcement will continue to enforce existing laws.

Reasons to legalize and regulate cannabis

The new legal framework takes a public health approach to cannabis legalization and regulation.

The new law will help to:

  • better prevent youth from accessing cannabis
  • displace the illegal cannabis market
  • protect public health and safety with product quality and safety requirements for cannabis

Learn more about important health and safety information on cannabis use.

What is legal now

Cannabis for medical purposes is legal if you are:

  • authorized by a health professional and
  • registered with a licensed producer or Health Canada.

Access to cannabis for medical purposes will continue to be permitted after the Cannabis Act comes into force.

Health Canada remains committed to maintaining a distinct system to provide patients with reasonable access to cannabis for medical purposes. Under the new Cannabis Act, individuals will still be able to:

  • purchase cannabis directly from a federally licensed producer
  • register to produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes
  • designate someone to produce it for them

Laws in your area

Each province and territory will have the ability to set its own rules for cannabis, including:

  • legal minimum age
  • where you can buy it
  • where you can use it
  • how much you 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.

Individual municipalities may also pass bylaws to regulate the use of cannabis locally. Check your municipality for local information.

It is illegal now and will remain illegal to take any amount of cannabis across Canada's international borders.

Road-side drug testing

Law enforcement are trained to detect drug-impaired driving. Learn more about road-side drug testing under Cannabis impairment.

Protecting youth

One of our top priorities is to protect the health and safety of youth.

The Cannabis Act establishes serious criminal penalties for those who sell or provide cannabis to youth. It also establishes new offences and strict penalties for those who use youth to commit a cannabis offence.

Growing cannabis

The Cannabis Act will permit adults to cultivate up to 4 cannabis plants per household (not per person). Provinces and territories have the flexibility to apply added restrictions on personal cultivation. There are recommended safety and security measures for growing plants that should be considered, such as safe storage and proper ventilation.

Health effects

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

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.

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

  • attention
  • memory
  • learning

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.

Substance use disorder

You should not use cannabis if you have a predisposition 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.

Share the facts

Everyone has something important to say about cannabis. Keep the conversation open with teens, students and patients:


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