Ontario public health measures
COVID-19 Info | Information sur la COVID-19 | COVID-19 Vaccine Vaccine Receipt | COVID-19 Self-Assessment

Middlesex-London Health Unit

Inner Nav


The non-medical use of cannabis is now legal in Ontario for people 19 years and older. Know the law. Know the facts. If you choose to use cannabis, help lower your potential risk.


5 Things to Know about Cannabis (Video by University of Waterloo)


The Law

On October 17, 2018, cannabis was legalized in Canada. There are various pieces of legislation at the federal and provincial levels that provide the legal framework to control the production, possession, use and sale of cannabis. On October 17, 2019, cannabis edibles, extracts and topicals were also legalized for purchase in Canada. The Ontario Government has clearly outlined:

  • The minimum age requirement to buy, use, possess and grow cannabis
  • Where you can and cannot smoke or vape cannabis
  • Where you can legally purchase cannabis
  • How much cannabis you are able to possess
  • Driving impaired by cannabis penalties
Federal Legislation Provincial Legislation
The Cannabis Act, 2018 controls the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada. The Cannabis Control Act, 2017 and its regulations control the sale, distribution, and possession of cannabis within Ontario.

On October 17, 2019, cannabis edibles, cannabis extracts, and cannabis topicals were legalized for purchase in Canada. On this date, the Federal Cannabis Regulations were amended to include rules related to the production and sale of other cannabis products including edibles, extracts, and topicals.

The Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and its regulations control the licencing and authorization of cannabis retail stores as well as the sale of cannabis through retail stores within the province.
The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 regulates the smoking and vaping of cannabis.

You cannot smoke or vape cannabis in any location where smoking tobacco is already banned. This includes any enclosed workplace, any enclosed public place, and other places designated as smoke-free and vape-free.1


Just like tobacco, smoking or vaping cannabis on or within 20 metres of school property is illegal.1 It is also illegal to smoke or vape cannabis on hospital grounds or within 9 metres of any entrance or exit of a hospital.1


It's illegal for drivers and their passengers to smoke or vape any substance in the vehicle if anyone is 15 years old or younger.1 No one in a motor vehicle can consume cannabis while the vehicle is being driven, or at risk of being put into motion.1 It's illegal to drive while impaired, whether it’s from alcohol, cannabis or any other drug.2


Strict laws are in place to keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth. It is illegal to sell or distribute cannabis to anyone under 19 years of age.3


The Facts

Cannabis use can have short- and long-term harmful health effects (PDF). Using cannabis can increase the risk of impaired driving, injuries, reproductive concerns, respiratory problems, mental health issues including dependence, and impacts on youth brain development.4 5


Brain development (PDF) in youth and young adults can be negatively affected by cannabis use. The brain continues to grow and change until a person is approximately 25 years old. When cannabis, alcohol, or other drugs are introduced during this critical time in brain development, it can disrupt the way these connections are made.6 7


Cannabis use before, during and after pregnancy (PDF), and while breastfeeding, can be harmful to a baby. The chemicals from cannabis can pass from a woman’s body to the baby during pregnancy, and from breastmilk to a baby when breastfeeding.8 9 10 To avoid any possible negative health effects (PDF) it is safest to avoid all forms of cannabis use while pregnant or breastfeeding.


Cannabis use impacts the children and youth around you. Children tend to copy what they see (PDF) and are influenced by any type of smoking around them. Substance-free role models can be a positive influence on youth in the community.11 12


It doesn’t matter if it’s impairment from cannabis, alcohol, or any other drug, impaired driving is illegal and increases the risk of a crash (PDF).2 13 Always drive sober, and never ride in a vehicle with a driver who has used cannabis, alcohol or other drugs.


Cannabis use can increase the risk of developing a mental illness, especially in youth and young adults. It's an addictive substance and starting use at an early age can increase the likelihood of a person developing a problem. Regular cannabis use before the age of 25 can also increase a person’s risk of developing psychosis, schizophrenia, depression, and/or anxiety disorders 7 12 6


Cannabis use is a personal choice, but it comes with risks to your health and well-being. If you choose to use cannabis, follow Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines (PDF).

Cannabis and Alcohol

Alcohol increases the effects of cannabis. Mixing alcohol and cannabis can significantly increase the risk of over-intoxication and could result in anxiety, panic, nausea, vomiting, and paranoia. Avoid mixing cannabis with alcohol or other substances.


Cannabis Edibles

Cannabis edibles are products that you eat or drink, which contain THC and/or CBD. If you choose to consume cannabis edibles, know the risks. They affect you differently than inhaling cannabis, and they can look like common foods such as cookies or brownies.

Cannabis Edibles

It takes a long time for your body to absorb the THC from cannabis edibles. The intoxicating effects of cannabis edibles do not kick in for about 30 minutes to 2 hours. It can take up to 4 hours to feel the full effects. Effects can last up to 12 hours after use. Taking more before feeling the effects can result in over-intoxication. Wait. Go slow.

Cannabis Edibles

The effects of cannabis edibles can be more intense than inhaling a similar dose of dried cannabis. Starting with a lower amount of THC and waiting to feel the effects before consuming more will reduce the risk of over-intoxication. Start low. Go Slow.

Cannabis Edibles

Cannabis edibles may look appealing to children and youth, so make sure they are properly labelled, locked up and stored out of sight and reach of children and youth. Poisoning could occur if children or youth unintentionally eat edibles which could lead to serious health problems.




Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines

Cannabis use is a personal choice, but it comes with risks to your health and well-being. If you choose to use cannabis, follow these recommendations to reduce your risks.



Additional Resources

Learn more about the health and social effects of cannabis, how to talk to your kids about drug use, and resources to get help with cannabis use.


Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis Series
Regular Use and Mental Health (PDF) Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis: Respiratory Effects of Cannabis Smoking (PDF)
Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis: Maternal Cannabis Use during Pregnancy (PDF) Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis: Medical Use of Cannabis and Cannabinoids (PDF)
Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis: Cannabis Use and Driving (PDF) Regular Use and Cognitive Functioning (PDF)
Date of creation: February 1, 2013
Last modified on: November 28, 2019


1Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care. (2018). Where you can't smoke or vape in Ontario. Retrieved from
2Ministry of Transportation of Ontario. (2018). Impaired Driving. Retrieved from
3Queen’s Printer for Ontario. (2017). Cannabis Control Act, 2017, S. O. 2017, C. 26, Schedule 1. Retrieved from
4The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction. (2018). Cannabis Retrieved from
5The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. (2018). Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines. Retrieved from
6The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction. (2015). The Effects of Cannabis Use during Adolescence. Retrieved from
8The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. (n.d.). Cannabis and Pregnancy Don’t Mix. Retrieved from
9The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. (2018). Are you pregnant or considering pregnancy? Did you know the use of cannabis may be harmful to your baby? Retrieved from
10Best Start Resource Centre. (2017). Risks of Cannabis on Fertility, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Parenting. Retrieved from
11Linkenbach, J. (2002). The Main Frame: Strategies for Generating Social Norms News. Montana, US: Montana State University. Retrieved from
12Drug Free Kids Canada. (2018). Cannabis Talk Kit – Know How to Talk to Your Teen. Retrieved from
13The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction. (2017). Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis – Cannabis Use and Driving. Retrieved from