Cannabis use becomes legal on October 17th, 2018. In response to the federal government's plan to legalize cannabis, Ontario has committed to a safe and sensible framework to govern and carefully control cannabis within the province (Smoke Free Ontario Act, 2017; Cannabis Act, 2017). This approach will support Ontario's priorities of protecting youth and vulnerable populations, focusing on public health and safety, promoting prevention and harm reduction, and eliminating the illegal market.
Once legal, Ontarians aged 19 and over will be able to purchase cannabis online through the Ontario Cannabis Store. A wholesale distribution network to supply cannabis to legal private stores in Ontario will be established once legislative requirements are put in place. Medical cannabis will continue to be available through a federally licensed producer online or over the phone.
Drug impaired driving is, and will remain, a criminal offence. Cannabis impaired driving is a significant public health and public safety concern. A collaborative approach between public health and law enforcement is required to effectively prevent harms resulting from impaired driving.
Cannabis legalization brings about much debate regarding its physical and mental health effects and subsequent public health concerns. These are driving education, awareness and prevention initiatives to avoid the potential social and health consequences for not only individual users but their families, friends, colleagues, health and social sectors and economic development.
Public Health Key Messages on Cannabis Legalization:
Key messages have been developed with the following prevention principles in mind:
- if you don't currently use don't start
- delay use as long as possible or at least until the age of 25
- if you currently use, do it safely (see link to lower-risk guidelines below)
- seek help if you or someone you know is having dependence issues with cannabis use
Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines
If you choose to use cannabis you are strongly encouraged to reduce your risk by following the 10 evidence-based recommendations outlined in the newly created lower-risk use guidelines.