Lower risk cannabis use

Last revised: March 18, 2024

Consider the time and place before you use cannabis. For example, if you are experiencing negative feelings before using, cannabis could make those feelings even worse. Make sure you have a safe ride home, and are with people you trust before using cannabis.

If you are planning to use, follow these lower-risk tips.

Start low. Go slow.

Different cannabis products and the way you use it can have different effects. Use products with low THC and an equal or higher amount of CBD. If you are smoking or vaping, start with 1 or 2 puffs of 10% (100mg/g) THC or less.

THC Content Anticipated Potency
0 – 1.99% Little to minimal
2 – 6.99% Very mild
7 – 11.99% Mild
12 – 16.99% Medium
17 – 20% Strong
> 20% Very Strong

Source: Ontario Cannabis Store

Edible products can have up to 10 mg THC per package. Start with 2.5 mg THC or less.

After you use, wait to feel the effects. Use this chart as a guide:

Ways of using cannabis When effects could begin When effects could peak How long effects could last



Seconds to minutes 30 minutes Up to 6 hours or more



30 minutes to 2 hours 4 hours

Up to 12 hours or more

Source: Government of Canada

Find out more: www.canada.ca.  

Go easy on your lungs.

Ingesting or vaping cannabis are less harmful than smoking, but be aware that these may have their own risks.

If you vape, monitor yourself for symptoms of lung (pulmonary) illness such as cough, shortness of breath and chest pain. Seek medical attention if you have concerns about your health. Be sure to indicate to your health care professional that you currently vape, or have in the past, and what you were vaping. Only dried cannabis is legally available for use with a vaporizer.

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.

If you choose to ingest cannabis (e.g. edibles, oils), review the Start Low. Go Slow section for more information.

Obtain cannabis from legal sources. Products from illegal or unregulated sources, are not subject to any controls for safety or quality.

If you smoke cannabis, avoid inhaling deeply or holding your breath.

Secure your substances (drugs).

Keep cannabis products in original or child resistant packaging and in a locked place that is out of reach and out of sight of children.

If you or your child has accidentally consumed drugs or medication, contact the Ontario Poison Control Centre at 1-800-268-9017. Cannabis poisoning in babies and children is a medical emergency.

Symptoms of cannabis poisoning in children include:

  • Changes in mood such as confusion
  • Agitation or sleepiness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Balance problems and difficulty breathing

Call 9-1-1 if your child is ill and/or has difficulty breathing.

Stick to one substance (drug) at a time - leave tobacco out of the mix too.

Using more than one substance (drug) at a time can lead to unpredictable changes to how you think, feel and act. Tobacco contains nicotine that also has addictive qualities and can make it hard to cut down or quit.

Plan a safe ride.

Cannabis impairs coordination, attention, judgement, and reaction time. The effects of using cannabis can last 6 to 12 hours. Use public transit, a rideshare service or walk with friends on a well-lit area.

Share with care.

Try to avoid sharing joints, bongs, vaporizers and equipment with other people to reduce your risk of sharing germs and infections. If you are sharing, try to find ways to avoid direct contact where someone else’s mouth has been.

Have more cannabis free days.

Regular use can increase the negative effects on your mind and body. Limit your cannabis use to one day a week at most.

For more information on resources and services, visit our Mental Health, Addictions and Substance Use Health Services and Resources webpage.

<< Back to Cannabis (Marijuana) landing page

Contact Us