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General Questions
Cultivation Questions
Consumption Questions
Possession Questions
Purchasing Questions
Health Risks



General Questions

Q: What is medical cannabis?

A:

Medical cannabis is subject to different rules than recreational cannabis.

The production and sale of medical cannabis is regulated exclusively by the Health Canada (a federal agency).



Q: What is non-medical cannabis?

A:

Non-medical cannabis = “recreational cannabis”



Q: What is Bill C-45?

A:

Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, is a federal bill that has received Royal Assent, but will not come into effect until October 17, 2018. Bill C-45, once in effect, will regulate and restrict the production, distribution and sale of cannabis.

The stated objectives of this legislation are to prevent young persons from accessing cannabis, to protect public health and public safety by establishing strict product safety and product quality requirements and to deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those operating outside the legal framework. The Act is also intended to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis.

Until October 17, 2018, it remains illegal to buy, possess or use cannabis for anything other than authorized medical or research purposes.



Q: How does Ontario’s Cannabis Act differ from Bill C-45?

A:

Ontario’s Cannabis Act received Royal Assent on December 12, 2017.

On and after October 17, 2018, adults 19 years and older will be able to purchase, use, possess and grow cannabis for non-medical purposes. This is the same minimum age for the sale of tobacco and alcohol in Ontario.

Until October 17, 2018, it remains illegal to possess, consume or distribute cannabis for anything other than authorized medical or research purposes.

At the time of publication, the provincial government is taking a hybrid approach to cannabis sales, whereby as of October 17, 2018, the legal sale of cannabis will only be allowed online, through the Ontario Cannabis Store website. After April 1, 2019, the province will allow non-medical cannabis to be sold in private retail stores.



Cultivation Questions

Q: How many cannabis plants can I grow?

A:

For recreational cannabis users, the legislation will permit four cannabis plants, not exceeding a height of 1 metre, per residential premise (indoors and/or outdoors). Until October 17, 2018, it remains illegal to grow cannabis for anything other than authorized medical or research purposes.

Individuals with a prescription to use cannabis may grow it themselves in quantities stipulated by that prescription. Additional details are available here: https://bit.ly/2swrnpw.



Q: Is each person in my residence allowed to have up to four plants, or is there a household limit?

A:

On and after October 17, 2018, there will be a household limit of four cannabis plants for recreational users.



Q: I rent a property. Can I grow cannabis plants in my unit?

A:

Landlords will be able to prohibit growing of cannabis on their property.



Q: I own a property. Can I stop my tenants from growing plants?

A:

Landlords will be able to prohibit growing on their property.



Q: Landlords will be able to prohibit growing on their property.

A:

Landlords will be able to prohibit growing on their property. This will include tenant boards for owner-occupied units.



Q: I have a medical cannabis license, once the new legislation is in place, will any cultivation rules change for me on October 17, 2018?

A:

If a health care professional has already authorized you to use cannabis for medical reasons, you will still be required to register under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) to produce cannabis for your own medical purposes. Details here: https://bit.ly/2MfD7sy.



Q: Who can I call if I think someone is growing more cannabis plants than they are allowed?

A:

If someone is growing more cannabis than the legislation allows, and you wish to report this, you can do so by contacting Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, online at http://stthomascrimestoppers.ca/ or by contacting the St. Thomas Police Service non-emergency line at 519-631-1224.



Use / Consumption Questions

Q: Where can I use non-medical cannabis?

A:

The government has proposed legislation that, if passed, would provide the following rules for using cannabis, both medical and recreational.

Where you could smoke and vape cannabis*

  • Private residences – this does not include residences that are also workplaces (e.g. long-term care and/or retirement homes)
  • Many outdoor public places (e.g. sidewalks, parks)
  • Designated guest rooms in hotels, motels and inns
  • Residential vehicles and boats that meet certain criteria (e.g. have permanent sleeping accommodations and cooking facilities, and are parked or anchored)
  • Scientific research and testing facilities (if the cannabis use is for scientific research and testing purposes)
  • Controlled areas in:
    • long-term care homes
    • certain retirement homes
    • residential hospices
    • provincially-funded supportive housing
    • designated psychiatric facilities or veterans’ facilities

*Additional restrictions on smoking and vaping may exist in municipal bylaws, lease agreements, and the policies of employers and property owners.

Where you could not smoke or vape cannabis

Indoors

You would not be able to smoke or vape cannabis in:

  • indoor common areas in condos, apartment buildings and university/college residences
  • enclosed public places and enclosed work places
  • non-designated guest rooms in hotels, motels and inns

Schools and places where children gather

You would not be able smoke or vape cannabis:

  • at school, on school grounds, and all public areas within 20m of these grounds
  • on children’s playgrounds and public areas within 20m of playgrounds
  • in child care centres, or where an early years program is provided
  • in places where home child care is provided – even if children aren’t present
  • Hospitals, hospices, care homes and other facilities

You would not be able to smoke or vape cannabis:

  • within 9m from the entrance or exit of hospitals (public/private), psychiatric facilities, long-term care homes, independent health facilities
  • on outdoor grounds of hospitals (public/private) and psychiatric facilities
  • in non-controlled areas in long-term care homes, certain retirement homes, provincially-funded supportive housing, designated psychiatric or veterans’ facilities, and residential hospices

Publicly owned spaces

You would not be able to smoke or vape cannabis in publicly-owned sport fields (not including golf courses), nearby spectator areas and public areas within 20m of these areas.

Vehicles and boats

You would not be able to consume cannabis (smoking, vaping, eating) in a vehicle or boat that is being driven or is at risk of being put into motion.

Other outdoor areas

You would not be able to smoke or vape cannabis:

  • in restaurants and on bar patios and public areas within 9m of a patio
  • on outdoor grounds of Ontario government office buildings
  • in reserved seating areas at outdoor sports and entertainment locations
  • grounds of community recreational facilities, and public areas within 20m of those grounds
  • in sheltered outdoor areas with a roof and more than two walls which the public or employees frequent, or are invited to (e.g. a bus shelter)


Q: My neighbour is smoking cannabis in their yard, and my kids are being exposed to the smoke, what can I do?

A:

You are encouraged to share your concerns with your neighbours so that the matter can be resolved between both parties. If appropriate, a third party mediator could be retained to assist in the resolution.

Such a scenario would not be considered a police matter.



Q: What are the laws about driving after consumption of cannabis?

A:

Drug-impaired driving has been illegal since 1925 and will remain illegal after the new legislation comes into effect.

Please refer to the FAQ on “Road Safety” for additional details regarding the detection and enforcement of drug-impaired driving.



Q: Who do I call if I believe someone is driving while impaired by cannabis?

A:

Drug-impaired driving is a crime in progress. Call 9-1-1 immediately if witnessed.



Possession Questions

Q: What is the legal age for purchasing cannabis or cannabis products?

A:

On and after October 17, 2018, the legal age for purchasing cannabis in Ontario will be 19 years of age.



Q: How much cannabis can I carry on my person?

A:

On and after October 17, 2018, an individual who is 19 or older will be permitted to carry a maximum of 30 grams (about one ounce) of dried legal cannabis or its equivalent in public.

The new legislation will decriminalize youth (12 to < 18 years) possession of up to 5 g of dried legal cannabis, however these amounts may be subject to seizure by law enforcement. Amounts exceeding 5 g will be addressed under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, including youth diversion. Until October 17, 2018, it remains illegal to possess cannabis for anything other than authorized medical or research purposes.



Q: Where will an individual legally be permitted to transport cannabis in a vehicle or boat?

A:

It will be illegal to operate a motor vehicle or boat that contains cannabis in Ontario unless the cannabis “is packed in baggage that is fastened closed or is not otherwise readily available to any person in the vehicle or boat.”

If a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that cannabis is being contained in a vehicle or boat in contravention of that rule, they will be able to search the vehicle, and any person found in it without a warrant.

These cannabis transport rules will also apply to medical cannabis.



Q: I think someone is selling the cannabis they are growing. How would I report this?

A:

The illegal sale of cannabis can be reported by contacting Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, online at http://stthomascrimestoppers.ca/ or by contacting the St. Thomas Police Service non-emergency line at 519-631-1224.



Q: Can I give cannabis I grow to a friend, for free?

A:

Under the new legislation, you will be able to share up to 30 grams of dried legal cannabis and legal cannabis products with other adults (19 years of age or older).



Q: What is 1 gram of dried cannabis equivalent to?

A:

For the purposes of the new legislation, one gram of dried cannabis is considered equivalent to:

  • 5 g of fresh cannabis
  • 15 g of edible product
  • 70 g of liquid product
  • 0.25 g of concentrates (solid or liquids)
  • one cannabis plant seed


Q: I have a medical cannabis license. Once the new legislation is in place, will the same rules about possession apply to me?

A:

If a health care professional has already authorized you to use cannabis for medical reasons, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations that currently apply to you will continue to apply to you.



Q: Who can I call if I think someone is carrying more cannabis than the legislation allows?

A:

One can report this by contacting Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, online at http://stthomascrimestoppers.ca/ or by contacting the St. Thomas Police Service non-emergency line at 519-631-1224.



Purchasing Questions

Q: When it is legal, where will I be able to purchase recreational cannabis?

A:

When it becomes legal, only people 19 years of age and over will be able to purchase cannabis.

At the time of publication, the provincial government is taking a hybrid approach to cannabis sales, whereby as of October 17, 2018, the legal sale of cannabis will only be allowed online, through the Ontario Cannabis Store website. After April 1, 2019, the province will allow non-medical cannabis to be sold in private retail stores.



Q: I have a medical cannabis license, once the new legislation is in place, do the same rules about purchasing apply to me?

A:

If a health care professional has already authorized you to use cannabis for medical reasons, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations that currently apply to you will continue to apply to you.



Q: Who can I call if I think a store is selling cannabis or cannabis products to minors?

A:

You are encouraged to report the sale of cannabis or cannabis products to minors by contacting Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, online at http://stthomascrimestoppers.ca/ or by contacting the St. Thomas Police Service non-emergency line at 519-631-1224.



Health Risks

Q: What is the Health Department’s role in the legalization of cannabis?

A:

The Southwestern Region Public Health Department plays a role in building healthy public policy, creating supportive environments and educating the public about potential harms associated with cannabis use. Since the Health Department currently enforces sale and places of use for tobacco products under the Smoke Free Ontario Act it is likely there will be some role regarding enforcement but that has not yet been identified.



Q: What are the short-term health risks related to cannabis use?

A:

There is strong scientific evidence that cannabis use is associated with a variety of health risks which can be acute (immediate or short-lived) or chronic (delayed and longer-lasting).

Short-term health risks can include:

  • altered perception of time, distance and space;
  • impaired judgment;
  • loss of coordination;
  • disorientation;
  • sleepiness;
  • increased heart rate; and/or
  • panic attacks or feeling paranoid.


Q: What are the long-term health risks related to cannabis use?

A:

Effects due to long-term use can include:

  • difficulty concentrating, and reduced memory and attention span;
  • psychological dependence and possible physical dependence;
  • increased risk of lung damage; and/or
  • worsening mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Health risks may also increase depending on a number of factors, including:

  • longer duration of use;
  • larger amount used and stronger potency of the product;
  • delivery system (smoking can be more harmful than smokeless);
  • high risk behaviours while impaired such as driving or consuming other drugs;
  • use of other substances or medications; and
  • health conditions such as chronic disease or a family history of psychosis.


Q: Is smoking cannabis less harmful than smoking cigarettes?

A:

Cannabis smoke contains tar, fine particulate matter and many of the same harmful chemicals and cancer causing agents as tobacco smoke.

The second-hand smoke produced when smoking cannabis is considered as harmful to a non-smoker as cigarette smoke. To reduce the risk of lung disease, do not mix cannabis with tobacco and consider using smokeless forms of cannabis.



Q: How does cannabis use affect driving?

A:

The effects of cannabis can be somewhat unpredictable. Cannabis use impairs cognition, attention, memory, decision-making and psychomotor functioning. These effects can further be influenced by amount consumed, concentration, presence of contaminants, tolerance, metabolism and so on.

Coupling the consumption of cannabis, and/or other drugs, with alcohol, can also create further unpredictable effects on one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.



Q: How does cannabis affect pregnancy and breastfeeding?

A:

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada recommends that women should not use cannabis while they are pregnant or breastfeeding. There can be health risks such as pre-term labour, low birth weight, lower IQ scores and hyperactivity in childhood.



Q: Who should not use cannabis at all?

A:

People who should not use cannabis include:

  • youth 18 years of age and under;
  • those who have a family or personal history of psychosis;
  • those who have previous experience with or family history of substance use disorders; and
  • pregnant and lactating women.


Q: If I use cannabis, how can I lower my health risk and the health risk for others?

A:

There are several recommendations:

  • use smokeless methods, such as vaporizers or edibles;
  • stay away from synthetic products such as K2 or Spice;
  • have days that are cannabis-free;
  • stick to one drug at a time;
  • store in a safe place away from children and pets; and
  • wait at least six hours or longer before driving or using other machinery


Q: What are lower-risk cannabis products (in terms of health risks)?

A:

Lower-risk cannabis products contain higher amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) which counteracts some of tetrahydrocannabinol’s (THC) adverse effects.

Products such as shatter (which is a concentrated form of cannabis) has a high THC content and has more health risks. It is better to choose products that have a high CBD-to-THC ratio, and this depends on the strain of the cannabis plant.



Q: What are the health benefits for medical cannabis users?

A:

The Canadian government identifies positive and negative, short and long-term medical impacts of cannabis. This information can be found on the Health Canada website, along with guidelines for health care practitioners and patients.

There is still a lack of strong scientific evidence regarding the medical benefits of cannabis.



Q: Will legal cannabis be somehow safer to consume than cannabis that is purchased illegally?

A:

The reason for legalization is to have more controls in place such as a safer supply chain. You can visit the Health Canada website for a full listing of the controls.



Q: What are the second-hand smoke effects of cannabis?

A:

There is no safe level of second-hand tobacco smoke exposure either indoors or outdoors. Many studies have shown that cannabis smoke and tobacco smoke contain similar fine particles, volatile organic chemicals, carbon monoxide and heavy metals, all of which pose potential health risks.

There are at least 33 cancer-causing agents in cannabis smoke, some of which are at greater levels than in tobacco smoke. The second-hand smoke produced when smoking cannabis is considered as harmful to a non-smoker as cigarette smoke.

There has been little research on the health risks of second-hand cannabis smoke, but there is evidence that people who are exposed can have detectable levels of THC in their body. However, the potential for impairment depends on a number of factors (e.g., whether the air space is ventilated, duration of exposure, potency of the cannabis being smoked, number of smokers, etc.).



Q: How can cannabis affect young people’s health?

A:

Cannabis can impact the physical and mental health of youth. The brain does not fully develop until the age of 25. Early use of cannabis in the teen years can change the brain as it is still developing and can impair decision-making and problem solving.

Studies have shown that regular use during the teen years can increase the chance of developing mental health problems, including depression and psychosis, and dependence. It can also impact their lungs and make youth vulnerable to injury. This could affect education, job opportunities and relationships with others. Young people should consider delaying cannabis use until after adolescence.

Drug Free Kids Canada is a useful website for parents and has a link to the resource, The Cannabis Talk Kit.



Q: Are small children more at risk to second-hand exposure?

A:

There are many vulnerable groups of people who can be more affected by second-hand smoke, including those with chronic health conditions such as asthma and heart disease, as well as infants and small children.



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