What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is the most commonly used substance in both Oxford and Elgin/St. Thomas, aside from alcohol and tobacco. It is used for medical, non-medical and cultural purposes.
Cannabis refers to the whole plant (Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica), and the substances extracted from it. Marijuana is a term used by many to refer to the dried leaves and flowering tops of the plant.
- For more information on Cannabis visit Cannabasics
- For more information on edible cannabis and extracts visit: 7 Things you Need to Know about Cannabis Extracts – CCSA
Read the label carefully.
Always read the label before ingesting edible cannabis. Edible cannabis products vary widely in their appearance and ingredients, including how much THC and CBD they contain. The package must also contain information on recommended storage and intended use. Other information you may find on the package is directions for use, product form, or other warnings or precautions.
Start with low THC products.
For some people, the effects of edible cannabis can be more intense than inhaling a similar dose of dried cannabis. This intensity is partly because when you ingest THC, your liver turns it into a stronger form. Individuals who are new to cannabis edibles should start with products containing no more than 2.5mg of THC and wait to feel the effects before taking more.
Go slow and wait for the effects.
With edible cannabis, the intoxicating effects or “high” do not kick in for about 30 minutes to 2 hours. The effects peak at about 4 hours. Because it can take up to 4 hours to feel the peak effects, consuming more cannabis within this time period can result in over-intoxication. Over-intoxication can take the form of anxiety and panic, nausea and vomiting, and symptoms of psychosis or paranoia.
Store edibles safe and securely.
Cannabis edibles look like regular food items. Unintentional ingestion of edible cannabis by children and pets can lead to severe health problems. So, if you have edible cannabis at home, make sure that it is properly labelled, stored in child-resistant containers and stored out of the sight of children and pets. Seek medical attention right away if you think a child has eaten cannabis or products that contain cannabis.
If you choose to use, pick just one.
Alcohol can increase the intoxicating and impairing effects of cannabis. Consuming cannabis and alcohol at the same time could result in anxiety, panic, nausea, vomiting, and paranoia. Avoid mixing cannabis with alcohol or other drugs.
Buy from a licensed retailed.
Whether you’re making your own cannabis edibles or buying ready-made cannabis products, get your cannabis from a legal source, such as the Ontario Cannabis Store or a licensed cannabis retailer. Cannabis products from licensed producers are heavily regulated to ensure they are fit for human consumption, including mandatory testing for the presence of solvent residues and contaminants such as pesticides, mold, bacteria, and heavy metals. They’re also tested to confirm THC and CBD levels.
Some adults use cannabis for medical reasons. If you are considering cannabis for a medical reason, talk to your healthcare provider where you can obtain medical authorization. Just like any medication, you want to weigh the benefits and risks.
- Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis: Medical Use of Cannabis and Cannabinoids – Canadian Centre on Substance Use
- Process to Obtaining Medical Cannabis – Government of Canada
- Consumer Information for Medical Cannabis – Health Canada
- Research on Medical Cannabis – Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research
Medical Cannabis and Children
The Canadian Paediatric Society does not support the use of medical cannabis in children and states it should only be considered by Physicians on a case by case basis in extreme circumstances.
- Medical Cannabis and Children – Canadian Pediatric Society
Just as with alcohol or tobacco, cannabis is not a harmless substance. It’s important for you to be informed of what is known about the harms of cannabis use so you can reduce your health risks.
- Health Effects of Cannabis – Health Canada
- Cannabis and Your Health – Government of Canada
- Environmental Health Risks of Personal Cannabis Cultivation – National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health
- Your Questions Answered: How Can a Plant Be Harmful? - Health Canada
Less Risky Use
The only way to avoid any harm is by not using cannabis. If you choose to use cannabis, it’s important for you to be informed of things you can do to lower your risk.
- Low Risk Use Guidelines – Centre for Addition and Mental Health
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.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
- Risks of Cannabis on Fertility, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Parenting – Best Start
- Cannabis and Pregnancy Don’t Mix – Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
- Things You Need to Know About Cannabis, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding – Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
- Thinking About Using Cannabis Before or During Pregnancy? – Government of Canada
- Times Have Changed – Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Using cannabis while parenting affects how you interact with your child.
- Thinking About Using Cannabis While Parenting? – Government of Canada
Driving after using cannabis is illegal and it more than doubles your chance of motor vehicle collision. If you choose to use cannabis, don’t drive high.
Cannabis use alters skills needed to drive, including:
- Cognition – the way you process thoughts
- Reaction time
- Visual function
- Short-term memory
- Divided Attention – those tasks that require the ability to monitor and respond to more than one source of information at a time
- Impaired is Impaired – Ontario Ministry of Transportation
- Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis: Cannabis Use and Driving – Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
- Your Cannabis Questions, Answered: Driving - Government of Canada
Pay attention to signs that your child has unintentionally consumed cannabis. Signs and symptoms may not happen right away and can sometimes occur after several hours.
Common Signs of Cannabis Toxicity in Children Include (but are not limited to):
- A sudden onset of sleepiness or unresponsiveness
- Loss of muscle tone, muscle control and coordination
- Dilated pupils
- Fast and/or irregular heart beat
- Slow breathing
Strategies to Prevent Unintended Cannabis Poisonings in Children:
- Make sure you dispose of all unused cannabis and cannabis-related products.
- Ensure your cannabis is kept in a child-resistant package and placed in a locked area out of reach and out of sight of children.
- If you grow cannabis plants at home, create a dedicated grow space with controlled access (i.e., strong locks and or an alarm)
- Seek medical attention right away if you think a child has eaten cannabis or products that contain cannabis.
To Report a Poisoning or For Information Call The Ontario Poison Centre at 1-800-268-9017
Even though cannabis is legal, there are still rules that need to be followed for your safety, and to protect you from penalties such as fines or jail time. Know the laws so you can follow them and protect yourself and others from harm.
- Provincial Cannabis Laws – Ontario Government
- Federal Cannabis Laws – Government of Canada
- Cannabis and International Travel - Government of Canada
Talking With Your Kids About Cannabis
Talking with your child about drugs and alcohol can be tough, but there are ways to engage them that promote open and positive communication. Overall, talking with your child openly and regularly, and being actively involved in their life is most important. 81% of youth do not use cannabis, but it is still important to talk about it with your children.
- Cannabis Talk Kit: Know How to Talk With Your Teen – Drug Free Kids Canada
- Talking Pot With Youth: A Cannabis Communication Guide for Youth Allies – Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
- Why Prevent Alcohol and Other Drug Use? – Rethink Your Drinking
Facts About Cannabis
Youth and young adults under the age of 25 who use cannabis are at higher risk of harmful effects on brain development and function that may become permanent. This is because the brain continues to develop until the age of 25, and the THC in cannabis affects the parts of the brain that direct brain development.
- Cannabis: What Parents/Guardians and Caregivers Need to Know – Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
- Parents: Help Your Teen Understand What’s Fact and Fiction About Marijuana – Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
- The Effects of Cannabis Use During Adolescence – Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
- Practice the Cannabis Talk – Drug Free Kids Canada
- Cannabis and the Teenage Brain - NCPIC and Turning Point
Educators have a huge influence on young people and preventing drug use among students.
- Curriculum Connections
- Cannabis Education Resources – OPHEA
- Helping Schools – University of Victoria
- Preventing Substance Use Through Positive Youth Development- Western University
- Talking about Cannabis
- Cannabis Talk Kit: Know How to Talk With Your Teen – Drug Free Kids Canada
- Talking Pot With Youth: A Cannabis Communication Guide for Youth Allies – Canadian Centre on Substance Use
- Why Prevent Alcohol and Other Drug Use? – Rethink your Drinking
- Facts about Cannabis
- Cannabis: What Educators Need to Know – Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
- Cannabis Information for Schools and School Boards – Government of Ontario
- Cannabasics – Canadian Public Health Association
- What’s With Weed – Parent Action on Drugs
- Workplace Strategies: Risk of Impairment from Cannabis – Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
- Impairment and Workplace Health and Safety – Ontario Ministry of Labour
- Impairment and Cannabis in the Workplace – Government of Canada
- Questions and Answers on Cannabis and the Human Rights Code – Ontario Human Rights Commission
- Impairment in the Workplace: What Your Organization Needs to Know – CMHA – Consider
- E-Learning: Impairment and Cannabis in the Workplace – Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety