Cannabis refers to any of the products derived from the cannabis plant. There are many common names for cannabis such as marijuana, weed and pot. There are also other names for cannabis products depending on what part of the plant was used or how the product was processed.
Cannabis contains hundreds of chemical substances. These chemical substances can affect the way we feel and think. Two of the most studied chemicals in cannabis are THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Cannabis can be smoked, inhaled as a vapour, added to food or drinks, used as a tincture and topical form.
Cannabis use has been found to have therapeutic or medicinal effects to improve symptoms for some health conditions. However, there are a variety of health risks associated with using cannabis as well. Risks associated with cannabis use increase with frequency and length of use. Young people are especially vulnerable to the effects of cannabis since brain development is not complete until about the age of 25. There are also specific health risks associated with cannabis use for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Cannabis (non-medical) is currently a prohibited substance in Canada, but is the most commonly used illicit substance. According to the 2015 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Study about 1 in 7 males and 1 in 10 females aged 15 and older reported using cannabis in the past year. Cannabis for non-medical use is set to become legal in Canada as of October 17, 2018.
Up to date information about the status of cannabis laws in Canada can be found on the Federal Department of Justice Current Cannabis Law webpage.