Cannabis also known as marijuana, weed, pot, dope, and hash is typically green, brown and or grey in colour and comes from dried flower buds and leaves from the cannabis plant. The main chemical in cannabis is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the ingredient that makes users experience a ‘high’. Cannabis can be smoked, vaped, or ingested through food or drink.

As of October 17, 2018, cannabis is now legal for recreational use for people aged 19 and over.

The Health Unit is responsible for enforcing cannabis use and distribution through the same framework utilized for Tobacco, under the Smoke Free Ontario Act. If you have a question or complaint about cannabis please call 519-753-4937 ext. 455. All complaints are kept confidential.

Cannabis is also called: marijuana, weed, pot, bud, green, honey oil, phoenix tears, shatter, edibles. Cannabis is a plant that contains chemicals called cannabinoids, the two most common being delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD):

  • THC induces the psychoactive or “high” effects.
  • CBD: does not cause psychoactive or “high” effects, but can cause drowsiness.
    • CBD is being studied for its medical uses. Long-term effects of CBD use are unknown.

Forms of Cannabis:

  • Cannabis is available in various forms, including fresh or dried flower, oils, extracts, such as oil, tinctures/sprays, and creams. The THC content of each variety varies. Cannabis can be used in many ways:
  • Inhaling, smoking: effects begin within seconds to minutes and can last up to 6-24 hours
  • Ingesting, sublingually: effects begin in 10-30 minutes, and can last 6-12 hours
  • Ingesting, oil based: effects begin in 10-60 minutes and can last up to 12 hours
  • Ingesting, food: effects can begin in 30 minutes-2 hours and can last up to 12 hours or more
  • Topicals, on the skin: onset of effects unknown, and can last up to 6 hours or more

Synthetic Cannabis:

Another form of cannabis is called, synthetic cannabis (man-made), also known as “K2” or “Spice”, that is not natural cannabis. It is illegal and often more dangerous than natural cannabis products as it is made of unregulated chemicals sprayed onto shredded plants of any type. Purchasing cannabis should be made through legal cannabis sources.

Potential Short-Term Effects of Cannabis: 

Short-term effects can develop from single-use or occasional use of cannabis:

  • Relaxation, calmness, or happiness
  • Feeling “high” or euphoric
  • Impaired memory, thinking, or judgement
  • Anxiety, fear, restlessness, or confusion
  • Paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased blood pressure, which can cause an individual to faint and fall
  •  Increased heart rate

Cannabis use can alter an individual’s judgment, decision-making, and perception, it may lead to dangerous situations such as driving while high.  If you are under 21, there is a zero-tolerance law for impaired driving which means you cannot have any alcohol or drugs in your system., or to harm to self or others.

Potential Long-Term Effects of Cannabis: 

Long-term effects can develop from regular cannabis use and prolonged use

  • Harms memory, concentration, and decision making
  • Negatively impacts mental wellbeing, and worsens symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Interferes with school, work, social and family responsibilities
  • Damages lung and respiratory system (if smoking or vaping cannabis), such as lung infections and bronchitis, or chronic cough
  • Affects brain development for individuals using cannabis that are under 25 years of age
  • Can lead to cannabis use disorder, or dependence as it can be hard to cut back or stop using. The risk is increased for those under 25 years of age.
  • Increases risk of experiencing psychosis and schizophrenia. The risk is increased for those under the age of 25 years old, if you use regularly, or have a family history of these conditions

Children and pets are at greatest risk of cannabis poisoning due to accidental consumption. Cannabis should be stored out of sight and locked away from children and pets. To prevent serious harm, know the signs of cannabis poisoning and actions to take to seek help for yourself and others.

Cannabis Poisoning:

Cannabis can be overconsumed, meaning there are high levels of THC in your bloodstream causing unwanted effects. Effects are often temporary, but can lead to dangerous situations, sometimes requiring emergency medical attention. Symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Severe anxiety or panic attacks
  • Suicidal thoughts, and/or psychosis (paranoia, hallucinations, delusions)

If you are concerned about your cannabis experience or are experiencing harmful effects, help is available:

  • Stay calm
  • Do not use any more cannabis
  • Have something to eat and drink water
  • Do not drive
  • Call the Ontario Poison Control Centre at 1-800-268-9017, or call 9-1-1

If you believe your child has consumed cannabis, act immediately:

  • Call the Ontario Poison Control Centre at 1-800-268-9017, or
  • If the child has lost consciousness, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Ingesting cannabis (i.e., edibles) has greater opportunity for cannabis poisoning as products can be confused with non-cannabis products or have a delayed onset of desired effects causing individuals to consume more, thinking effects will happen quicker.

Eating cannabis raw will not produce any intoxicating effects, rather products must be heated to activate THC and other cannabinoids when consumed. In the case of purchased edibles and some oils and tinctures, the THC has already been activated and can be consumed as prepared.

Cannabis and Driving:

There is no safe level of cannabis use for driving. Driving a vehicle or operating machinery after cannabis use is illegal and dangerous. A vehicle includes cars, trucks, boats, snowmobiles, and off-road vehicles. Cannabis affects coordination, attention, concentration, and slows reaction time, increasing chance of accidents that can cause harm to self and others, including death. Impairment from cannabis varies, therefore it is best to delay driving after use for as long as possible.

Although the legal age of cannabis use in Ontario is 19, youth 25 years of age and younger are at highest risk of harms from cannabis.

The part of the brain that is negatively impacted by cannabis is responsible for memory, decision-making, problem-solving, and emotional regulation. Alterations to the developing brain puts youth at higher risk of addiction and health problems associated with cannabis use.

To reduce the risks associated with cannabis use, it is valuable to delay onset of use to as late as possible.

There is no safe amount or safe time to use cannabis when trying to get pregnant, during pregnancy, when breastfeeding or chest feeding, and parenting. The safest choice is to refrain from cannabis use and inform your healthcare provider for additional support.

  • If you are unable to stop using cannabis, or do not want to stop using cannabis, try using smaller quantities and less often.
  • If you are using cannabis for medical purposes, talk to your healthcare provider for safer alternatives during pregnancy and breastfeeding.


There are various reasons to be cautious about using cannabis while parenting. Parenting while using cannabis may reduce the ability to make good decisions and protect children from harm.

It is best to refrain from cannabis use when parenting to ensure the safety of the children, parents, and others around. It is important to ensure there is always someone available who is not consuming cannabis to take care of a child and their needs.

Parents are encouraged to continue to learn about the effects of cannabis as new information becomes available. For more information, call your healthcare provider, and visit the links below.

Cannabis use by older adults is increasing. Being informed of the risks associated with cannabis use and healthy aging lead to safer decisions about use.

There is limited research about how the body processes cannabis as individuals age. For older adults, cannabis use today is different than if it was used earlier in life, as the potency of THC has increased. For this reason, it is important to be aware of the health and safety risks of cannabis use that are up to date.

  • Cannabis can cause concentration and memory problems, impair motor skills and slow reaction time, which increases risks of falls and injury, and impair ability to drive safely. These abilities naturally decline with age and cannabis can further impair these abilities.
  • Using cannabis can affect your medications. It is important to discuss with your health care provider or pharmacist about possible interactions.
  • Lower kidney function and digestion associated with aging can affect how cannabis and other substances are cleared from the body.
  • Smoking cannabis can lead to respiratory problems and worsen symptoms in those with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
  • In people with pre-existing heart conditions, cannabis use may increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. Cannabis has an impact on heart rate and blood pressure.

The other information on the BCHU webpage about cannabis is applicable to older adults, in addition to statements in this tab.

Know where to go for help. If you need support with your cannabis use, resources are available to help in your community:

Emergency Crisis Lines:

If you need help in an emergency or are in crisis, contact a local distress centre:

If you are concerned about your cannabis experience or are experiencing harmful effects, help is available:

  • Stay calm

  • Do not use any more cannabis

  • Have something to eat and drink water

  • Do not drive

  • Call the Ontario Poison Control Centre at 1-800-268-9017, or call 9-1-1

If you believe your child has consumed cannabis, help is available:

Brantford/Brant Addiction Services:

Provincial and National Help Lines

  • Canadian Drug Rehab Services, call 1-877-254-3348

    • Free, confidential professional help and resources for drug and alcohol addiction in Canada. Referrals for clients seeking support with substances

  • ConnexOntario, call 1-866-531-2600 or text CONNEXT to 247247

    • 24/7 Mental Health and Addiction Services support for ages 18+

  • Get help with substance use –

  • Good2Talk, call 1-866-925-5454 or text GOOD2TALKON to 686868

    • confidential support services for post-secondary students:

  • Health Connect Ontario (previously Telehealth Ontario), call 1-866-797-0007 or call 8-1-1

    • 24/7 confidential support for health matters and addiction concerns

  • Kids Help Phone, call 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868

    • support for ages 0-20

  • Wellness Together Canada, call 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS to 741741
    • Mental health and substance use support for people in Canada and Canadians abroad. Always free and virtual, 24/7.