On October 17, 2018 cannabis becomes a legal substance in Canada. Like alcohol and tobacco, it will still be regulated which means there will be rules about who can use it, and where it can be used.
Most of the regulations are made by the provinces. Because Teen Talk is based in Manitoba, we are going to focus on what the rules are in our province.
Legalization in Manitoba
- The legal age to buy cannabis is 19. If you are younger than 19 and found in possession with cannabis, it will likely be treated in a similar way as alcohol which may mean a fine of $672. However, this may be at the discretion of the police officer.
- Someone who is 19 years of age or older will be allowed to be in possession of up to 30 grams.
- Like alcohol, driving under the influence is illegal.
- Like alcohol, being high at work will be frowned upon. There may be exceptions for medical users. Talk with your workplace to learn what their policies are and the potential impacts to your job.
- It can be bought at licensed retailers (stores) that specialize in the sale of cannabis. This means unlike tobacco, it is not available at corner stores or gas stations.
- Where, how and if stores can be located in a community will be up to the individual municipality. For instance, in Winnipeg stores will be required to not have clear glass windows. Some communities will be holding referendums (public votes) on if they will allow retail stores at all. Online shopping will be available to all communities regardless of local bylaws.
- While federal law allows for the growth of up to 4 plants at home, Manitoba has decided that home grown plants will remain illegal. Being found in possession of plants could lead to a fine of $2,542.
- No one will be allowed to smoke in public including parks, patios, and campsites or walking down the street. The only legal space to use will be in private homes. Smoking pot in public may mean a fine of $672.
- You will not be allowed to sample cannabis at a licensed retailer, and there will be no cannabis cafes.
- For now the new laws do not include the sale of edibles. Homemade edibles will be allowed if they are not made with solvents.
Health and Cannabis
Sometimes people think of cannabis as having no risks to one’s health. This is not true. Like all substances, there is a chance of risk as well as ways to reduce the risk or chances of something going wrong.
- Brains are still developing until around age 25. There’s a growing body of research that shows delaying the use of cannabis until after the teen years helps reduce the impacts of cannabis on mental health, memory and attention.
- Starting use at an early age has been linked to an earlier or stronger onset of mental illness including schizophrenia, especially among those with a family history. It doesn’t give someone a mental illness, but may affect how and when it develops.
- Like anything smoked, there is a risk of lung damage. Try to take shallow puffs when smoking, vape or use edibles to reduce the risk.
- If eating edibles, start low and go slow. Give it time to kick in fully before you decide to take more.
- If you are using cannabis to self-medicate, especially from stress, difficult times and/or trauma, then it’s important to talk with someone you trust too. It can also help in the long term to build other ways of coping too.