Use responsibly

If you are 19+, you are now able to use cannabis legally in Ontario. If you are planning to use, you can follow these tips to help you make a responsible choice that considers your mental health, physical health, and safety.

Know when it is not for you
What to know: Using cannabis can come with risks, especially for people who are under 25, use often, or use high levels of THC.

How to reduce your risk: Consider not using cannabis if you are under the age of 25, at risk for mental health problems, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Have more cannabis free days

What to know: Using cannabis everyday or a few times a week can increase the risk of negative effects to your mind and body.

How to reduce your risk: Limit your cannabis use to one day a week at most.

Go easy on your lungs

What to know: Cannabis smoke has many of the same chemicals as tobacco smoke. After you take a hit, it only takes a few seconds for the smoke to get to your lungs that absorb the THC. The high can last up to 6 hours.

How to reduce your risk: Instead of smoking, use a different method like vaping or edibles, but be aware that these may have their own risks. If you want to smoke, take short shallow breaths and exhale right away. It only takes a few seconds for the THC to be absorbed through your lungs so you will still get high without holding the smoke in your lungs.

Start low and go slow

What to know: Different strains of cannabis and the way you use it can have different effects. While you feel the effects of smoking or vaping within minutes, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to feel the effects of edible cannabis. The effects of edibles can last up to 12 hours.

How to reduce your risk: Start with a small amount, especially if it is your first time, and wait 30 minutes or more to feel the effects before deciding if you want to have more.

If you have had too much or you are not enjoying your experience, try to keep calm until the effects wear off. Use with friends you trust, find a safe space you feel comfortable in, stay with a friend, drink water and have something to eat. Remember to call for help when you or the people you are with need it.

Consider the strain

What to know: Strains that are high in THC can increase your risk of developing certain mental illnesses and increase the risk of negative affects to your brain development if you are under the age of 25.

How to reduce your risk: Use strains that are lower in THC and have some CBD. Now that cannabis is legal, you will be able to know how much THC is in your cannabis by reading the label on the package. If you are sharing with a friend, ask them how much THC there is.

Avoid mixing in alcohol or other drugs

What to know: Alcohol and cannabis cause impairment. Using them together can increase impairment, which increases your chance of accidents and injuries.

How to reduce your risk: Stick to one drug at a time.

Avoid mixing in tobacco

What to know: Burning cannabis and rolling papers produces smoke that has the same harmful chemicals and carcinogens as the smoke caused by burning cigarettes. Tobacco also has nicotine, which is more addictive than cannabis. Smoking cannabis with tobacco means you are getting the chemicals from the smoke and are at risk for becoming addicted to tobacco.

How to reduce your risk: Instead of smoking use a different method, like vaping or edibles, and leave tobacco out of your mix. If you are using with friends, make sure you ask if they added tobacco.

Share with care

What to know: When you share your joint, bong, vaporizer or whatever else you use, you may also be sharing germs and infections from your mouth and saliva with each other.

How to reduce your risk: Try to avoid sharing with other people. If you are sharing, try to find ways to avoid direct contact where someone else’s mouth has been

Don’t drive high

What to know: Cannabis impairs coordination, attention, judgement and response time. All of these are important for keeping yourself safe and injury free.

How to reduce your risk: If you are planning to use cannabis, plan a safe ride with a sober friend, use OC transpo, Lyft, Uber, or a taxi.

Know where to go for help 

Signs you may need help with your cannabis or other drug use:

  • Ignoring responsibilities at work, school, or home.
  • Giving up activities that you find important or enjoyable.
  • Using more often.
  • Feeling unable to cut down or control use.
  • Changes in mood (e.g., feeling irritable and paranoid).
  • Changing friends.
  • Having difficulties with family members.
  • Being secretive or dishonest.
  • Changing sleep habits, appetite, or other behaviors.

If you are concerned about yourself or someone else, there are places where you can turn to for help.

Learn more about additional local mental health and addiction services.


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