Cannabis: Just Because It's Legal, Doesn't Mean It's Safe | Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Cannabis: Just Because It's Legal, Doesn't Mean It's Safe

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/October 15, 2018 - Cannabis legalization will take effect on October 17th, raising many questions for individuals, families, and communities across the country.

"The legalization of recreational cannabis is, and will be, a very complex topic for everyone including municipalities," states Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health at Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH). "We are committed to working with our partners to consider a public health perspective when making policy and regulatory decisions with regard to cannabis."

According to Oglaza, this approach aims to minimize any potential harm to the health of the public, such as increased usage among youth, renormalizing of smoking behaviour, or increases in drug impaired driving.

For parents, teachers and individuals who are 19 years or age or older, knowing the risks and how to reduce those risks is key to making an informed decision about cannabis use.

HPEPH will be focusing on public education with the objective of addressing the health hazards and the myths and mixed messages related to cannabis use.

Based on Canada's Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, HPEPH recommends taking these steps to reduce your health risks:

1.  If you don't use, don't start.

2.  Don't use if you are:

    • Are at risk for mental health problems
    • Are pregnant or planning a pregnancy
    • Breastfeeding
3.  Don't use cannabis and drive, or operate other machinery. Wait at least 6 hours – or even longer if you
     need. Being impaired substantially increases your risk of an accident resulting in injury or death.
     Combining cannabis and alcohol further increases impairment, so avoid this combination.

4.  Delay using cannabis until later in life, as the brain continues to develop until approximately 25 years of age.

5.  If you currently use, do it safely:

    • Follow Canada's Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines
    • Limit to only occasional use
    • Choose cannabis products that are less potent, such as those with a high CBD (cannabidiol) to THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) ratio. THC should be 10% or less
    • Choose vaping or edibles over smoking cannabis to avoid the harmful chemicals in cannabis smoke
    • Edibles have a delayed effect. To reduce risks, start slow and with low THC cannabis product
    • If you choose to smoke cannabis, avoid inhaling deeply or breath holding
6.  Seek help if you or someone you know is having dependency issues with cannabis use. Please call Open
     Line Open Mind at 613-310-OPEN.

Currently, under provincial rules, cannabis use will be permitted only where tobacco use is currently allowed; however, some municipalities may adopt stricter bylaws.

Please contact HPEPH if you have questions or are unsure where to legally use cannabis. Call us at 1-800-267-2803 or 613-966-5500 ext. 600.

For more information, visit or

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Media Contacts:

David Patterson, Health Promoter
613-966-5500 ext. 511
Roberto Almeida, Program Manager
613-966-5500 ext. 346
Dr. Piotr Oglaza, Medical Officer of Health
613-966-5500 ext. 200

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) operates one of 35 health units across Ontario. HPEPH provides dozens of programs and services, along with reliable health information, to a population of approximately 150,000 people in a 7,000 square km catchment area encompassing 17 municipalities. HPEPH's mission is to enable the people in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties to achieve and maintain optimal health through health protection and promotion, as well as disease and injury prevention. For more information, please visit You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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