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What's legal in Alberta?

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Are vaping products legal?

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The long-term health effects of vaping remain unknown.

Given ongoing health concerns about vaping-associated lung illness, those who choose to vape cannabis extracts should know: 

  • Only use legal vaping products. Illegal vapes may carry additional risks, such as breathing difficulties and exposure to additional chemicals.
  • Avoid modifying vape products. Do not add nicotine or any other substance to your vape. If a product is not intended for vaping, do not vape it.
  • Limit how much and how often you use. Initial effects can be felt within seconds to minutes, but full effects can take up to 30 minutes.
  • Always know what potency of cannabis you are using. The concentration or THC (% or mg/g) can be found on the label of licensed cannabis products.
  • Avoid consuming other substances, such as alcohol or tobacco when using cannabis.

For more information please visit Council of Chief Medical Officers Statement on EET’s

 

How much cannabis am I personally allowed to have?

An adult (18+) in Alberta is 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)
  • 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 are not 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 is only able to be purchased legally to grow or buy from a licensed cannabis retail store or albertacannabis.org. Here are a few reasons why you should buy legally.

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

Methods of consumption

Cannabis is legal for adults (18+), but like many controlled substances, there are negative health effects.

 

Ingestion

Ingesting means eating, drinking or swallowing cannabis. Cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, are absorbed through the digestive track and processed by the liver. Ingested cannabis will affect you differently than inhaled cannabis and can have longer effects. Avoid driving or other safety-related tasks for an extended period of time after ingesting cannabis.

 
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Edibles

Edible cannabis comes in a variety of food and beverage forms.

 
  • Edible products contain varying amounts of cannabis. Read the label and do not exceed the recommended serving size to reduce the risk of consuming too much.
  • Edible products are easily mistaken for non-cannabis food and beverages. Keep cannabis locked and out of reach and sight of children and teens.
 
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Oils

Oils can be taken by mouth, put into food or beverages, or swallowed as capsules.

 
  • Droppers are controlled by the user.
  • Capsules have a consistent amount with every use.
  • People with allergies should check to ensure oils are safe for use. Some carrier oils contain nut products.
 
Effects of edibles and oils
  • May take between 30 minutes to two hours to start to feel the effects. It can take up to four hours to feel the full effects. 
  • Effects can last over 12 hours.
  • Waiting a minimum of four hours before consuming more can help reduce the risk of taking too much.
 
Health risks
  • If you have a pre-existing health condition, speak to your health care provider before use.
  • Negative side effects can happen if you consume too much. 
  • Delay using cannabis until later in life as the brain is still developing until about age 25.
  • Consuming too much cannabis can cause negative effects which can include:
    • Increased breathing rate
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Anxiety or paranoia
    • Psychosis, in extreme cases
 

Inhalation

Inhalation is the most common way cannabis is consumed. Cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, are absorbed into the body through inhaling vaporized or smoked cannabis into the lungs.

 
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Smoking

 

 

Smoking is the direct inhalation of smoke from dried cannabis. Delivery methods for smoking include, pre-rolls, pipes, bowls, water pipes, bongs and hookahs. Smoking cannabis is the most harmful way of using because it directly affects and damages your lungs.

 
Vape pen
Vaping

 

 

Vaping delivers cannabis in a vapour form through heating a cannabis extract or dried product. The high heat turns the product into vapour without burning, which is then inhaled. Vaping exposes you to different chemical compounds with their own risks and harms. Vaping directly affects and may damage your lungs. The long-term effects of vaping remain unknown.

 
Dabbing
Dabbing

 

 

Dabbing refers to inhaling high THC cannabis extracts through the use of equipment such as a dab rig. The extract is placed on a hot surface and the fumes are inhaled. Certain extracts used for dabbing may contain higher amounts of THC and can increase the risk of dependence and adverse effects. New or occasional cannabis users should avoid dabbing to reduce their risk of harm. Dabbing directly affects and may damage your lungs.

 
Effects of inhaling cannabis

Health effects are felt within seconds to minutes and can last up to six hours or more.

 
Health risks
  • First time and returning users should limit their initial use of cannabis extracts to 1 puff.
  • Smoking or vaping cannabis can damage your lungs. Cannabis smoke contains tar and toxins similar to tobacco smoke. Cannabis vapour can contain toxins that damage lungs.
  • Avoid inhaling deeply or holding your breath to reduce the risk of lung damage. 
  • Second-hand cannabis smoke or vapour is harmful, especially around children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • The higher the THC potency in a product, the higher the risk of experiencing adverse health effects. High potency THC products can increase the risk of serious and long-term problems, such as injuries and dependence.
  • The long-term health effects of vaping remain unknown. Vaping THC and/or nicotine has been associated with severe breathing problems requiring hospitalization. Deaths have occurred in some cases.
  • If you do not currently smoke or vape cannabis then you should not start.
  • People who have never smoked or vaped before should consider other forms of cannabis instead of inhaling to avoid the risks associated with smoking and vaping.
 

Topicals

Topicals are lotions, creams, oils, etc. that have been infused with cannabis extracts and are absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin.

When topicals are used as recommended, it is unlikely that the cannabinoids will produce an intoxicating effect.

 

Pregnancy and Breast Feeding

 

 
It’s safest not to use cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding

Being aware of the potentially harmful effects of cannabis on pregnancy and a baby’s development is important. Research still hasn’t given us all the answers about the effects of THC or CBD on pregnancy and a baby’s development. For now, the safest choice is to avoid using cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding.  

Chemicals from cannabis pass into breast milk and are then absorbed by the baby

THC is stored in the same body fat tissues that produce milk and can stay in this tissue for days or even weeks. Dumping your breast milk the day after consumption will not prevent your baby from receiving any consumed cannabis.

Frequent cannabis use during pregnancy is associated with negative outcomes for your baby and increased risk of early labour.

Babies who were exposed to cannabis before birth may experience: 

  • problems understanding, learning, remembering 
  • hyperactivity, inattentiveness or impulsive behaviour  
  • increased risk of depression or anxiety  

Early labour can result in lower birth weight, breathing difficulties, temperature irregularities, hospitalization and/or potential cognitive problems for the baby when compared to full-term infants.  
 

Additional resources

 

 

Health risks of cannabis

According to reports from The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine and The University of Calgary, how much cannabis, how often and how you use it have the most influence on cannabis-related risks. For more information on the health effects of cannabis, visit drugsafe.ca.

 
Lungs
The long-term health effects of vaping remain unknown. Vaping THC and/or nicotine has been associated with severe breathing problems requiring hospitalization. In some cases, deaths have occurred.
If you do not currently smoke or vape cannabis, you should not start.
People who have never smoked or vaped before should consider other forms of cannabis instead of inhaling to avoid the associated health risks.
Second-hand cannabis smoke or vapour is harmful, especially for children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Lightning
Consuming too much cannabis increases the risks of negative effects. Symptoms include:
• increased breathing rate
• nausea and vomiting
• anxiety or paranoia
• psychosis, in extreme cases
Stomach
Long-term, frequent cannabis use can cause recurring episodes of severe nausea and vomiting known as Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS).
Low flag
If you have a pre-existing health condition, speak to your health care provider before using cannabis products.
You can experience negative side effects if you consume too much. Products that have a higher ratio of CBD to THC are more likely to minimize the feeling of being “high.” People with allergies should check oils to ensure safe consumption, as some carrier oils contain nut products.
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The higher the THC potency in a product, the higher the risk of experiencing adverse effects. High potency THC products can increase the risk of serious and long-term problems, such as injuries and dependence.

Delay using cannabis until later in life as the brain is still developing until about age 25.
Mental health
Frequent cannabis use may increase the risk for mental health problems like depression, anxiety and psychosis. If you have a history of mental health problems or substance use disorder, do not use cannabis.

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Is there a difference when using edibles from other methods of consumption?

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

 

Can you ingest too much cannabis?

Yes. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of consuming too much and prepare yourself in case you experience these negative effects.

 

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 an AGLC licensed retail store or online through albertacannabis.org. Purchasing from any other place or person is illegal and subject to fines and/or court proceedings, unless you have medical authorization to purchase.

 

Where can I use cannabis?

Albertans are allowed to consume cannabis in single-family homes and locations where their municipality allows. Use is 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 is prohibited from any place where tobacco is restricted, other locations where children might be present, on any hospital or school property.

Cannabis consumption is also 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 have submitted to roadside testing.

 

Growing, Storage, and Transportation

 

 

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What are the limitations on home-growing cannabis?

  • With the federal legislation, Canadians wishing to cultivate a small personal supply of cannabis are able to purchase their seeds from a provincially regulated retailer.
  • Canadians are allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants per residence for personal use from licensed seeds.
  • 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  number handy and close by: 1-800-332-1414. If you think your child has ingested cannabis call this 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?

  • Store products in a locked area out of sight and reach of minors and pets
  • Edible forms such as brownies or candies can look enticing to children and pets; do not leave products in areas that are easy to access, such as purses or suitcases
  • Keep products in original packaging which is marked with the universal symbol for THC
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  • If a child eats or drinks cannabis call Poison & Drug Information Service (PADIS), a free, anonymous and confidential service, toll-free-1-800-332-1414
  • If your pet consumes cannabis call your veterinarian
 

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 recreational 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 recreational cannabis in Canada are not allowed to take it across federal borders.
  • Carrying any cannabis or cannabis products (legal or illegal) across Canada's borders is a serious criminal offence, with individuals convicted of engaging in such activities liable for prosecution.
 
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