Cannabis is a plant that contains chemicals with psychoactive and therapeutic properties. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the chemical used therapeutically in medical cannabis products. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has psychoactive properties which affect the brain (mind-altering). Cannabis products include the dried herb as well as hashish and hashish oil. Cannabis is also known by other names such as marijuana, weed and pot.
If you think a child has consumed any form of cannabis, call the Ontario Poison Centre at 1-800-268-9017 or call 911 immediately.
There are a number of immediate and long-term health concerns with consuming cannabis around children. To protect a child’s health and well-being, parents/caregivers should ensure cannabis is safely stored, and avoid using cannabis when caring for children. A non-impaired adult should always be present to take care of children.
Cannabis for non-medical use is legal in Canada as of October 17, 2018. Under the new laws in Ontario, adults 19 years of age or older are able to:
The new legislation includes criminal offences for sharing/selling cannabis with/to minors and penalties for individuals who engage youth in cannabis-related offences.
Drug-impaired driving remains illegal in Canada. Law enforcement can currently detect drug-impaired driving using Standard Field Sobriety Testing and Drug Recognition Expert evaluation. Roadside Drug Screening Equipment has also been approved for use by law enforcement.
It remains illegal for travellers to take cannabis out of Canada or to bring it back from other countries.
The rules and regulations related to cannabis may be different in other provinces and territories.
The law on cannabis use for medical purposes is different and can be found at Health Canada.
Research shows that cannabis can be harmful to health if consumed frequently and to those who start using cannabis at a young age.
The only way to completely avoid the health harms associated with cannabis is to not consume cannabis. The potential health harms can be reduced by:
Smoking anything, including tobacco and/or cannabis is harmful to lungs. Health Canada is monitoring the safety of using a vaporizer.
Pregnant individuals and individuals with personal/family history of psychosis should avoid cannabis use.
Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines
Legal Access to Non-Medical Cannabis: Approaches to Protect Health and Minimize Harms of Use
Don’t drive high. If you have consumed cannabis, plan for a safe ride and avoid impaired driving.
Cannabis has been found to negatively affect the cognitive and psychomotor skills needed for driving including memory, attention and stop reaction time. This can significantly impact your ability to drive safely. Driving under the influence of both alcohol and cannabis causes greater impairment.
Law enforcement have the ability to detect drug-impaired driving using Standard Field Sobriety Testing and Drug Recognition Expert evaluation.
In Ontario, drivers who are 21 years of age or younger, and commercial and novice drivers are prohibited from driving with any amount of alcohol or cannabis in their system. Drivers breaking the zero tolerance rule may face immediate penalties including license suspension and potential criminal charges
The legal age limit for buying and consuming cannabis has been set at 19 years of age in Ontario. Early and frequent cannabis use during adolescence has been linked to a higher and longer-lasting health outcomes, including:
The potential risks associated with frequent cannabis use are higher during adolescence and up to age 25 while the brain continues to develop.
Youth who have supportive parents, teachers, and other adults in their lives are less likely to use alcohol and other drugs, including cannabis. When supportive adults create opportunities to talk about cannabis, it in itself is a protective factor against developing substance use issues.
Resources to help you talk to youth about cannabis:
Cannabis Talk Kit: Know how to talk with your teen
Research shows that cannabis can be harmful to your health before, during and after pregnancy. There are no known safe limits of cannabis use during pregnancy or when breastfeeding.
Frequent cannabis use can impact your ability to get pregnant. Studies have shown that using cannabis one or more times per day, is linked to:
Cannabis contains over 700 chemicals including THC and many of the same harmful chemicals as cigarette smoke. During pregnancy, these chemicals can pass from your body to your baby and may affect baby’s development.
Research shows that cannabis during pregnancy may increase the risk of:
Some people have reported that using cannabis during pregnancy helps to manage morning sickness. However, due to the potential risks to the pregnancy, unborn baby and mother, safer approaches should be discussed with a health care provider.
THC is stored in human fat cells, including the fat cells in baby’s brain. Cannabis use during pregnancy may affect baby’s brain development which may result in learning and behaviour difficulties later in childhood.
Video: There may be a time and a place, but is pregnancy one? Canadian Institute for Health Research
Pregnancy to Parenting Blog: Health risks of cannabis use during pregnancy
Risks of Cannabis on Fertility, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Parenting
THC and other chemicals from cannabis pass from your breast milk to your baby. THC is stored in fat cells of the breast and can be released into breast milk for several weeks. These chemicals can lead to decreased milk production and may impact your baby by:
Pumping and throwing out your breast milk shortly after using cannabis will not prevent your baby from consuming THC the next time you feed your baby.
Breastfeeding is still the healthiest choice for your baby. Until more is known about the short and long-term effects of cannabis on your baby, it’s safest to avoid using cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding.