Curious about cannabis? Here’s what you need to know about cannabis in Canada

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What is cannabis?

Cannabis is also called marijuana. Others call it weed, pot, grass, bud, mary jane, herb, joint, and ganga. It comes from the plant Cannabis sativa. It contains hundreds of chemicals called cannabinoids. These chemicals affect us in different ways.

Marijuana is used as medicine. It can ease pain, inflammation and nausea. It is also used for recreation. You can get high and feel drunk. This is caused by delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It can affect the mind. High amounts of THC harms our brain and body.

Before October 17, 2018, it was against the law to sell, buy and use marijuana. Only marijuana for medicinal use was allowed with doctor’s authorization.

Why are people talking about cannabis?

Cannabis became legal on October 17, 2018. Stores were allowed to sell cannabis bud, flower and oils. Persons aged 19 and older are able to buy and use it in their homes.

On October 17, 2019, edibles were also allowed. Edibles are foods and drinks containing cannabis. They will be sold by December 2019 (Cannabis edibles are now legal: Everything you need to know, Jeremiah Rodriguez, CTV News).

The government made cannabis legal to control its sale. Criminals and organized crime will not be able to profit from it. The law will also protect young people from the dangers of cannabis.

The Cannabis Act and provincial laws are strict. These set the legal age to buy and use marijuana. There are rules that tell us where to buy and use it. These also define the punishments for not following the law.

Read the Fact Sheet to understand the Cannabis Act. Go to Cannabis in Manitoba to know the provincial laws.

Can anybody get Cannabis?

No. You have to be at least 19 years old to buy or use it. You can buy it only in stores licensed by the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba (LGCA).

Other provincial laws:

  • Don’t grow cannabis plants in your home. Only those licensed for medicinal use are allowed.
  • Don’t smoke marijuana on streets and sidewalks, parks and beaches, school grounds, restaurant patios and decks, and near health-care facilities, among others.
  • You can smoke at home including in your backyard.
  • Don’t carry more than 30 grams of dried cannabis anytime.
  • Don’t bring young persons (under 19 years old) inside a cannabis store.
  • Don’t give cannabis to a young person. You will face criminal charges. You can also be jailed.

What other laws do I need to know?

Know the Impaired Driving Offences Act and laws on travelling internationally with cannabis.

Punishments for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are in the Impaired Driving Offences Act. This includes a person who is caught driving when high on cannabis. If this person caused harm or death, he can get a minimum of 14 years to life in prison. A permanent resident who commits such offences can be deported. Foreigners with a previous conviction may not be allowed to enter Canada.

Don’t bring cannabis when travelling. Canada’s border rules have not changed. Entering Canada or leaving Canada with cannabis is illegal. You may suffer criminal penalties here or abroad. It is also safer to use cannabis only within the province. Provincial and territorial laws on cannabis vary.

Read Alcohol, drugs and travel and Cannabis and international travel.

What are the health effects of cannabis?

Cannabis affects your brain quickly. The effects depend on your age and the type of cannabis used.

Short-term effects:

  • euphoria (feeling high)
  • relaxation
  • sense of well-being
  • strong sensory experiences
  • confusion
  • sleepiness or fatigue
  • damage to blood vessels
  • decrease in blood pressure (may cause a person to faint)
  • increased heart rate (which can be dangerous for people with heart conditions)
  • paranoia, delusions and hallucinations

Don’t work, drive, or operate machinery when high. Those high on cannabis become forgetful, have no focus and have slow reaction. Others experience anxiety, fear or panic.

You will feel the effects within minutes of using cannabis. It can last up to 24 hours.

Long-term effects:

  • decrease in memory and concentration
  • decrease in intelligence and ability to think and make decisions
  • affects lung health. May lead to bronchitis, lung infections, and chronic (long-term) cough.

Young people should not use cannabis. They can get addicted. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers using cannabis can damage the health of their baby.

Sources: Cannabis in Canada, Government of Canada; Cannabis Act stricter driving rules can impact immigrants, Steven Meurrens, Canadian Immigrant; The Can and Can’t of Cannabis, Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba; and Cannabis health effects, Government of Canada. Retrieved September 26, 2018.

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Community Resources

Know the latest news about cannabis, go to: Cannabis Canada CTV News.

Get the Cannabis Talk Kit by the Drug Free Kids Canada.org. It will help you if you need to talk to your kids about cannabis.

More resources:
The basics of cannabis, Addictions Foundation of Manitoba.
Cannabis guide, Centre for Addictions and Mental Health.
Fact sheet on the health effects of cannabis, Health Canada.
Lower-risk cannabis use guidelines for ways users can reduce health risks.

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