What do you need to know about cannabis

The legalization and regulation of recreational cannabis in Canada raises more questions than answers for some. However, look no further, here is what you need to know about the use of non-medical cannabis in Ontario and across the country.

What the law allows

As of Oct. 17. 2018, the recreational use of cannabis is legal in Canada.

The national laws allow for adults who are 18 years or older to possess, share or buy up to 30 grams (approximately one ounce) of cannabis in public, whether dried or non-dried.

Each household is allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants for personal use and the making of cannabis products is allowed at home, as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products.

However, in Ontario, the laws are a bit different. One must be 19 years or older to buy, use, possess and grow recreational cannabis.

The only legal option for purchasing cannabis within the province is through the Ontario Cannabis Store website.

A highly regulated private retail model for cannabis is set to be launched by April 1, 2019.

The production and sale of medical cannabis is subject to different rules, which are regulated exclusively by the federal government.

Understanding the substance

Cannabis and other drugs such as alcohol and tobacco pose a number of risks to  the body and brain, with significant impacts on mental health.

The substance can alter mental processes such as cognition, and cognitive functioning, which refer to skills such as memory, attention span, psycho-motor speed, learning process and more.

Research indicates that frequent use of cannabis increases the risk of developing schizophrenia, other psychoses, social disorder and to a lesser extent, depression.

Cannabis can be addictive and develop problems with it’s use.

According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, D.C., about 1 in 10 people who use cannabis will develop an addiction.

“When people realize that they are having problems stopping cannabis use even when they want to, or maybe when they want to cut it down cannabis use, even, they planned to,” says Abby Goldstein, professor and clinical physiologist at University of Toronto.

Another hot topic relating to the use of cannabis is its effects on one’s academic or overall social performance.

“Especially for those use cannabis, the way that we consider most problematic, is heavy use, frequent use, we are talking about daily or almost daily use,” Goldstein said.

“For those individuals, what we’ve seen is they can have lower grade point average, maybe less likely to graduate and also may have difficulty in succeed in terms of occupations role,” she added.

Where can cannabis be used?

  • Private residences
  • Several public spaces (sidewalks, parks)
  • Designated guest rooms in hotels, motels and inns
  • Residential vehicles and boats
  • Scientific research and testing facilities
  • Controlled areas in long-term care homes, certain retirement homes, residential hospices, provincially-funded supportive housing and designated psychiatric facilities or veterans’ facilities

Places where cannabis is prohibited:

  • Indoor common areas in condos, apartment buildings and university/college residences
  • Enclosed public spaces and enclosed workplaces
  • Non-designated guest rooms in hotels, motels and inns
  • Within 20 meters of a school, on school grounds, and all public areas within 20 meters of these grounds
  • Within 20 meters of children’s playgrounds and public areas  of playgrounds
  • In child care centers and early education spaces
  • In places where child care is provided – even if children aren’t present
  • Hospitals, hospices, care homes and other facilities and other outdoor areas

Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal and dangerous.  Persons found in violation of this law will be subjected to serious penalties, including suspension of licenses, fines and possibly jail time.

No-smoking of cannabis at GBC

In keeping with the no-smoking policy currently in place at George Brown College (GBC) persons are prohibited from smoking cannabis on campus or college owned properties.

The college mandates that any smoking or vaping must be done at least nine meters away from any college entrance.

The vice-president, student success at GBC, Chris McGrath indicated that prolonged use of cannabis may affect persons ability to participate either as a student, or as an employee of the college. This is especially the case if the use can present a potential safety risk for themselves or others, while at the college.

Listen to The Dialog Podcast for an in-depth interview with McGrath on GBC’s response to the legalization of cannabis

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What do you need to know about cannabis