Cannabis facts

If you choose to use, it's good to know the facts.

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What's legal in Alberta?

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What cannabis products will I legally be allowed to have?

Upcoming federal legislation policies will allow for any legally purchased or grown:

  • Dried cannabis
  • Oils
  • Plant seeds
  • Live plants
  • Fresh cannabis 
  • Capsules 

Commercially prepared edibles will not be legal during the initial stage of legalization. They have been proposed for October 2019. Home prepared edibles, such as baking or teas, are allowed for personal use for those over 18.

Some creams can contain cannabis, but these will not be legal under the proposed recreational federal legislation policies, and there are no plans to legalize them at this time.

How much cannabis am I personally allowed to have?

An adult (18+) in Alberta will be legally allowed to possess up to 30 grams of legally produced dried-cannabis (or the equivalent volume in other forms).
The Government of Canada has developed ratios for other cannabis products that can be used to determine a possession limit for those products.
One (1) gram of dried cannabis is equivalent to:

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

How does the new legislation affect youth?

No person can sell or provide cannabis to any person under the age of 18. Individuals under the age of 18 will not be allowed to enter cannabis retail locations, even when accompanied by a parent or guardian.  

To prevent youth from using cannabis, the Cannabis Act addresses specific concerns about minors, and prohibits:

  • Products that are appealing to youth
  • Packaging or labelling cannabis in a way that makes it appealing to youth
  • Selling cannabis through self-service displays or vending machines
  • Promoting cannabis, except in narrow circumstances where the promotion could not be seen by a young person

Penalties for violating these prohibitions include a fine of up to $5 million or three years in jail. In addition, the Cannabis Act would create two new criminal offences, with maximum penalties of 14 years in jail, for giving or selling cannabis to youth and using a youth to commit a cannabis-related offence

What about the guidelines for medical cannabis?

In Canada, medical use of cannabis is legal if documentation is provided by specific healthcare practitioners.

Why buy legal?

For Albertans, cannabis will only be able to be purchased legally to grow or buy from a licensed cannabis retail store or albertacannabis.org. Here are a few reasons why if you choose to use cannabis you should buy legally.

  • Quality Control
  • Strain Selection
  • Product Availability
  • Strong Communities
  • Ease of Access
  • Education

Lower-risk use

Cannabis will be legal for adults (18+), but like many controlled substances, there are negative health effects. Be informed on how to lower the risk of these negative effects, if you choose to use.

What are the tips for Lower-risk use?

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Consider waiting and using cannabis later in life
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Choose lower-risk products such as products with low THC content
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Limit and reduce your use of cannabis
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Avoid combining cannabis with alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
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Don’t use and drive
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Don’t use if you or your family has a history of psychosis, substance use disorders or other mental health problems
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Do not use if you are pregnant or think you might be
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Avoid smoking cannabis in favour of other methods of consumption
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Don’t use synthetic cannabinoids (e.g. K2, Spice)
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Be aware of bad reactions

There are some people who should not use cannabis. These include those with a personal or family history of psychosis or substance abuse disorders

Health effects of cannabis

How much cannabis, how often and how you use it have the most influence on cannabis-related health problems. 

Lungs
Lungs
Smoking cannabis has potential to damage lungs. Second-hand cannabis smoke is at least as harmful, or more harmful, than tobacco.
Stomach
Stomach
Long-term, frequent cannabis use can cause recurring episodes of severe nausea and vomiting for some people, known as Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS).
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Goals and Performance
Using cannabis can negatively affect performance at work, school and other life hobbies and activities. This is especially true for young adults.
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Memory and learning
Cannabis use can affect your memory, learning and attention
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Judgement and decision making
Cannabis use affects judgment and can lead to risky behavior and poor decision making.
Mental health
Mental health
In some people, particularly young people frequent cannabis use may increase the risk for mental health problems like depression, anxiety and psychosis.
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Dependency
There are reports that early, regular use is associated with higher risk of dependency.
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Other health risks
Other health risks include risk of testicular cancer and poor outcomes for pregnancy.
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Is there a difference when using edibles from other methods of consumption?

Yes. Because absorption of cannabis is much slower when it is swallowed or eaten, it can be more unpredictable than smoking it.

Can you overdose on cannabis?

Yes. Being familiar with the symptoms of a cannabis overdose will prepare you in the case of an emergency

Should you mix cannabis and alcohol?

No. the two substances can worsen the effects of the other and affect your body’s ability to deal with a potential overdose.

Where can I buy cannabis?

Cannabis is only legal to purchase at a AGLC licensed retail store or online through albertacannabis.org. Purchasing from any other places or people is illegal and subject to fines and/or court proceedings unless you have a medical authorization to purchase.

Where can I use cannabis?

Albertans will be allowed to consume cannabis in single-family homes and locations where their municipality allows. Use will be banned in cars or any motor vehicle, with the exception of those being used as a temporary residence, such as a parked RV.

Public smoking or vaping of cannabis in Alberta will be prohibited from any place where tobacco is restricted as well as other locations where children might be present, as well as on any hospital property, or school property.

Cannabis consumption will also be prohibited at any cannabis retail outlet.

Cannabis and impaired driving

It doesn’t matter which substance you’re impaired by; impaired driving is still impaired driving. It’s always dangerous and it’s always illegal.

Studies have shown that, among younger drivers, driving after using cannabis is more prevalent than driving after drinking alcohol.

Many more young people report getting into a car with a driver who has recently used cannabis as opposed to having used it themselves and then driven.

After alcohol, it is the most commonly detected substance among drivers who died in vehicle crashes.

Growing, Storage, and Transportation

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What are the limitations on home-growing cannabis?

  • With the proposed legislation, Canadians wishing to cultivate a small personal supply of cannabis would be able to purchase their seeds from a provincially regulated retailer
  • Canadians will be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants per residence for personal use from licensed seeds or seedlings 
  • Renters, condo-dwellers and those who live in multi-family dwellings might be restricted from growing cannabis in their homes based on rules established in rental agreements or condominium bylaws. 
  • Individuals wishing to cultivate a limited amount of legal cannabis for personal use must do so themselves and may not designate another person to do so for them.
  • The only exception will continue to be for individuals who have been authorized by their healthcare practitioner to use cannabis for medical purposes. In these situations, they may, if they are unable to cultivate their own cannabis, designate an individual to do so for them. This ensures that an individual who may be physically unable to cultivate their own cannabis for medical purposes can continue to have reasonable access to cannabis for medical purposes

How can I home grow safely?

  • Cannabis products can harm children and pets. Lock your grow space and products and dispose of waste safely.
  • When home growing or storing cannabis, keep the Alberta Poison and Drug Information Service (PADIS) number handy and close by: 1-800-332-1414.   If you think your child has ingested cannabis call the number.
  • Keep your indoor air healthy. Monitor humidity levels. Use dehumidifiers and a carbon monoxide detector as needed both inside and outside the growing area.
  • Limit, select and carefully use pesticides. Even food-grade pesticides were not safety-tested for typical cannabis use.
  • Be aware of your building's electrical and fire safety limits.
  • Grow safely and within the law. Organic solvents for cannabis processing are dangerous and have legal consequences.
  • Check with your landlord or building manager for any restrictions before starting up a home grow space.
  • Limit ultraviolet light exposure to your eyes and skin.

How can I store my cannabis?

  • Cannabis should always be stored in a locked area out of sight and reach of children and teens. Keep the product in the original packaging which is marked with the universal sign for cannabis.
  • What happens if a child eats or drinks cannabis unintentionally?
    • Cannabis can make children very sick. If they eat or drink any cannabis products call the Poison and Drug information Service (PADIS) at 1-800-332-1414. PADIS can be reached 24 hours a day. If you have any reason to believe your child has been exposed to cannabis call PADIS.
    • In other areas that have legalized cannabis, the rates of poisonings from cannabis have gone up. Remember that children can be poisoned from eating butts, papers or other residues
    • Pets are also at risk of poisonings. Call your vet if your pet eats or drinks any cannabis products, or substances related to your personal cannabis consumption (butts, papers, residues, etc.)

What are the limitations on transporting cannabis?

  • Within Canada, you are allowed to transport cannabis in a vehicle, but it must be secured in closed packaging and not within reach of the driver or occupants.
  • Travelling with non-medicinal cannabis is allowed within Canada and its provinces, provided it was purchased from a provincially licensed retailer. However, international travel with non-medicinal cannabis is not allowed regardless of your destination. 
  • Tourists who purchase non-medicinal cannabis in Canada will not be allowed to take it across federal borders.
  • Carrying any cannabis or cannabis products (legal or illegal) across Canada's borders will remain a serious criminal offence, with individuals convicted of engaging in such activities liable for prosecution.
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