Cannabis Health & Safety
Can I give cannabis to a minor in my home?No. According to the Cannabis Act, even parents or guardians can face significant legal consequences for distributing cannabis to a minor, including up to a 14-year prison penalty. The rules and penalties for distributing cannabis to minors are different than those set for alcohol distribution to minors.
How can I reduce the risks of consuming cannabis?
Cannabis use has health risks that are best avoided by not using it. However, there are steps that can be taken that will reduce the health risks associated with use:
- Delay cannabis use until later in life (after the age of 25)
- Avoid using synthetic cannabis (e.g., K2, Spice)
- Avoid use of cannabis before operating a vehicle, and wait at least six hours after using cannabis before operating a vehicle
- Avoid mixing cannabis with alcohol or tobacco
- Avoid smoking cannabis
- Limit and reduce how often you use cannabis
Can I use cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding?There is no known safe amount of cannabis to use during pregnancy or when breastfeeding. Cannabis use during pregnancy has been linked to low birth weight, and can harm a child’s brain development. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not consume cannabis, as it could harm the fetus or baby.
Does cannabis consumption lead to other drug use?There is limited evidence that suggests cannabis use is likely to precede the use of other legal and illicit substances and the development of addiction to other substances. The majority of people who consume cannabis do not go on to use other harder substances, such as stimulants or opioids.
Is it unhealthy to inhale cannabis smoke?Inhaling smoke of any kind can lead to lung damage and respiratory problems. Certain smoking practices such as deep-inhalation or holding one’s breath increases these risks. It is known that cannabis smoke contains chemicals and tar that are similar to tobacco smoke.
Is it possible to overdose on cannabis?Consuming too much cannabis can result in significantly unpleasant effects, but they should be experienced temporarily. There is no documented case of death resulting from a toxic overdose of cannabis.
Are there programs to help me if I think I’ve become addicted?If you feel you have developed a cannabis-use disorder or addition, help is available.
Why shouldn’t alcohol be consumed with cannabis?Combining cannabis and alcohol can elevate the felt effects and lead to extreme intoxication, dizziness and nausea. Combining cannabis with alcohol can also increase the risk of vulnerable people experiencing psychotic symptoms. Combining the two further lowers concentration and reaction times.
Why shouldn’t tobacco be consumed with cannabis?Tobacco is harmful on its own, and the co-use of tobacco and cannabis has been associated with developing a dependence on either substance, negative mental health outcomes, engagement in other risk-taking behaviours, and increased difficulty stopping cannabis use. There is some evidence that suggests combining tobacco with cannabis can lead to smoking initiation as well. In addition, using both substances may also lead to increased health risks compared to using just one or the other, such as the impact on the respiratory system.
Can I drive while or after using cannabis?
Driving while experiencing the psychoactive and intoxicating effects of cannabis containing THC is extremely dangerous. Do not drive after using cannabis, and ensure you are informed about the driving laws in Ontario. Although the effects of intoxication from cannabis that contains THC may wear off, cannabis stays in your system for some time. It is recommended that individuals who use cannabis refrain from driving (or operating other machinery or mobility devices) for at least six hours after using cannabis. If tested, you could test positive for cannabis content in your body.
There are strict penalties for driving and cannabis in Ontario.
For more information please visit the Ministry of Transportation website here. Also be aware that combining alcohol and cannabis can elevate the felt effects and cause severe impairment.
What are the mental health effects of cannabis use?In some people, cannabis use increases the risk of developing mental illnesses, such as psychosis or schizophrenia. Any cannabis use is associated with a 40% increased risk of psychosis. Consuming cannabis can produce effects that induce mild or temporary symptoms of anxiety, paranoia and delusional beliefs or cause more permanent mental impairment.
Those who start using cannabis at a young age, use it daily, and have a family history of mental illness are at a greater risk. The effects and onset of these illnesses may also be worsened by using higher-strength cannabis products.
Frequent cannabis use has also been associated with an increased risk of suicide, depression and anxiety disorders. Cannabis use may also exacerbate symptoms of existing mental health problems, though further research is required.
Can I get hurt consuming cannabis?
There is no documented case of death resulting from a toxic overdose of cannabis.
However, it is possible to “overconsume” cannabis, whereby short-term and long-term adverse effects can occur, especially if you consume large amounts. Short-term adverse effects may include confusion, fatigue and anxiety, panic, paranoia, elevated heart rate, and a significant impact to your ability to make decisions and react quickly.
The potential long-term risks include harm to your memory, decision-making ability, concentration, intelligence and mental health harms. Inhaling cannabis long term may also lead to lung damage and infections.
Driving or operating large machinery after consuming cannabis would present great risks to yourself and others. Remember that driving while impaired is against the law.
It’s also crucial to keep all cannabis products stored safely to avoid consumption by children or pets.
Is cannabis addictive?It can be. Some people are more prone to becoming addicted than others, and studies suggest that using cannabis in youth increases the risk of addiction.
Approximately one in 10 adults who have ever consumed cannabis will develop an addiction, also known as “cannabis-use disorder.” The early onset of use, long-term use and combining cannabis with tobacco increase the potential of addiction and other health risks. Initiation of use in adolescence increases risk of developing cannabis use disorder to one in six.
Is second-hand smoke harmful?Second-hand smoke is harmful, but the relationship is mediated by several factors, including the amount of smoke, frequency of use, ventilation and more. Little is factually known about the effects of cannabis smoke on lung health. However, cannabis smoke irritates the throat and lungs, and contains chemicals and tar that are similar to tobacco smoke, which can raise risks for cancer, and lung disease.
What should I do if I’ve consumed too much cannabis?Stay calm and in a safe place. Try to distract yourself by listening to music or watching a movie. Have something to eat and drink plenty of water. If you are feeling distressed, call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or 1-866-797-0007 (TTY). If you’re experiencing a frighteningly rapid heartbeat, call 911.
Can cannabis have adverse effects when used with any medications?
Yes. Cannabis can have interactions with other drugs or medicinal products. Please check with your doctor or pharmacist for possible adverse effects when combining with medication.
What should I do if my child ingests cannabis?
Contact 911 immediately.
How should I store cannabis?
Dried cannabis should be kept in a dry, cool place. If you have children or pets in your home, ensure that all cannabis products are kept safely out of reach and ideally kept in a secure childproof container.