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Cannabis Products & Common Effects

Canadian Federal Legislature*

  • Legal Age: 18+ (minimum), or as specified per Province

  • Maximum Possession: Up to 30 grams, or equivalent, or as specified per Province

  • Retail: As specified per Province; online sales available in each Province

  • Consumption: Private dwelling and property, or as specified per Province. Prohibited in vehicles.

  • Cultivation: Up to 4 plants per household, or as specified per Province

A detailed summary of Canada's legal cannabis laws.

Adult-use recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada on October 17, 2018.

The information on this website reflects the compiled legal frameworks of the Federal, Provincial Gov and Municipal Governments of Canada.

Click here to view Bill C-45 CANNABIS ACT. Source: Government of Canada

Cannabis 101

Legal Cannabis Products in Canada


Cannabis use does not come without risks or harms. It is your duty to understand cannabis and what effects it may have. Please act responsibly.


Chemical Compounds: THC & CBD


Cannabis plants produce chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. These compounds interact with our bodies via the endocannabinoid system. The two most well-known cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).



The most researched cannabinoid is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is responsible for the way your brain and body respond to cannabis, including the high and intoxication. THC has some therapeutic effects but it also has harmful effects. Harmful effects may be greater when the strength of THC is higher.


The potency (concentration or strength) of THC in cannabis is often shown as a percentage of THC by weight (or by volume of an oil). THC potency in dried cannabis has increased from an average of 3% in the 1980s to around 15% today. Some strains can have an average as high as 30% THC.



Cannabidiol (CBD) is another cannabinoid. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce a high or intoxication. There is some evidence that CBD may block or lower some of the effects of THC on the mind. This may occur when the amount of CBD in the cannabis is the same or higher than the amount of THC. CBD is also being studied for its possible therapeutic uses.


Cannabis that contains very low amounts of THC in its flowers and leaves (less than 0.3%) is classified as hemp.


Click here for more information on THC & CBD.


Cannabis Products

  • fresh or dried herbal material

    • Flowers and leaves from the cannabis plant

    • THC Potency: up to 30%

  • cannabis oil

    • Cannabis extract dissolved in oil. Can be used to make other forms (e.g., edibles).

    • THC Potency: up to 3%

  • chemically concentrated extracts (e.g., hash oil/shatter/budder/wax)

    • Highly concentrated cannabis extract dissolved in petroleum-based solvent (e.g., butane). Shatter, budder and wax most highly concentrated.

    • THC Potency: up to 90%

  • physically concentrated extracts (e.g., hash/kief)

    • Loose trichomes or pressed resin from the cannabis plant.

    • THC Potency: up to 60%

  • edibles

    • Foods and drinks containing extracts of cannabis

    • THC Potency: Depends on the amount of extract added

  • tinctures/sprays

    • Cannabis extract dissolved in a solvent, often alcohol. Can be used to make other products (e.g., edibles).

    • THC Potency: varies

  • creams/salves/liniments

    • Cannabis extract preparation prepared with alcohol, oil or wax and applied to the skin.

    • THC Potency: varies


Click here for more information on cannabis products in Canada.


Ways of using cannabis

Cannabis may be consumed in different ways and forms. Cannabis products also vary in the level of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis. Commonly, cannabis may be consumed by:

  • Smoking/vaporizing

    • ​​Effects may begin in seconds to minutes and last up to 6 hours

  • Swallowing (food/capsules)

    • Effects may begin between 30 minutes to 1.5 hours and last up to 12 hours

  • Under the tongue (sub-lingual oil)

    • Effects may begin in 5-30 minutes and last up to 12 hours


Some effects could last as long as 24 hours. 


Click here for more information on ways of using cannabis in Canada.


Consumption basics

  • Start low and go slow

  • Start with small amounts

    • Choose products with a low amount of THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol)

  • Avoid combining cannabis with alcohol and/or other substances as it increases impairment

  • Use cannabis in a safe and familiar environment and with people you trust

  • Avoid smoking cannabis

  • Avoid frequent use

  • Store cannabis securely and away from children and youth


Health Effects of Cannabis


Short-term health effects

The flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant are used for their ability to cause effects on the mind, including:

  • feeling high (euphoria)

  • a sense of well-being

  • relaxation

  • heightened sensory experiences:

  • sight

  • taste

  • smell

  • sound


While cannabis may make you feel relaxed and happy, your body and brain may also experience effects that are negative, unwanted and/or unpleasant.


Some of the short-term effects on your brain can include:

  • confusion

  • sleepiness (fatigue)

  • impaired ability to:

    • remember

    • concentrate

    • pay attention

    • react quickly

  • anxiety, fear or panic


Short-term effects on your body can also include:

  • if smoking, damaged blood vessels caused by the smoke

  • decreased blood pressure, which can cause people to faint

  • increased heart rate, which can be dangerous for people with heart conditions and can lead to an increased risk of heart attack

  • Cannabis use can also result in psychotic episodes characterized by:

  • paranoia

  • delusions

  • hallucinations


Long-term health effects


Long-term effects develop gradually over time, with daily or near-daily (weekly) use that continues over:

  • weeks

  • months

  • years


The long-term effects of cannabis on your brain can include an increased risk of addiction. Long-term cannabis use can also harm your:


Effects appear to be worse if you:


These effects can last from several days to months or longer after you stop using cannabis. They may not be fully reversible even when cannabis use stops.


Other long-term effects of smoking cannabis are similar to the effects of smoking tobacco. These effects can include risks to lung health, such as:

  • bronchitis

  • lung infections

  • chronic (long-term) cough

  • increased mucus buildup in the chest


Health effects during pregnancy and breastfeeding


Just like with tobacco and alcohol, a pregnant woman or new mother's use of cannabis can affect her fetus or newborn child.


The substances in cannabis are carried through the mother's blood to her fetus during pregnancy. They are passed into the breast milk following birth. This can lead to health problems for the child.


Cannabis use during pregnancy can lead to lower birth weight of the baby. It has also been associated with longer-term developmental effects in children and adolescents, such as:

  • decreases in:

    • memory function

    • ability to pay attention

    • reasoning and problem-solving skills

  • hyperactive behaviour

  • increased risk for future substance use

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