What is Cannabis?

Cannabis is known by many names and is referenced in many forms across popular culture. It is also known as: marijuana, weed, pot, hash, ganja and many other brand names and strains.  Cannabis refers to the greenish or brownish material that comes from the dried flowering tops/buds & leaves of the plants, Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica.

Cannabis contains over 140 cannabinoids – chemicals that affect how our brain functions and affects our mental state and physical movements.

The most common chemicals found in cannabis are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is the chemical that producers what users experience as the mental and physical effects of "being high".

Using Cannabis

There are many different methods and approaches to using cannabis in its vast variety of forms. Cannabis can be:

  • smoked as a cigarette, called a joint, spliff or blunt
  • smoked or vaporized through a pipe, bong or e-cigarette
  • mixed into food or drink
  • heated or inhaled as an oil, wax or in other resin forms (eg hash, shatter).

Health Risks

Cannabis use comes with potential health risks. People who have interest in using cannabis should consider the potential health impacts. Cannabis can be consumed in different forms, and some options present less health risk than others. The Low Risk Cannabis Guidelines provides helpful information.

Due to potential health impacts there are some groups that should not consume cannabis.

Women who are pregnant should avoid its use given cannabis consumption could increase the risk of adverse maternal and neonatal health outcomes, including low birthweight and growth reduction.

Women who are breastfeeding should avoid its use because it can be passed on to the child through breast milk.

Youth and young adults should also avoid consumption because it could have a negative impact on brain development which tends to stop by the age of 25.

People with a family history of mental health or substance abuse problems are more vulnerable to experiencing cannabis-related psychosis, and possibly other mental health problems.

For more information about health risks of cannabis use please visit the following:

MINISTRY HEALTH FACT SHEET https://ckphu.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Info-sheet-Cannabis-Health-Harms-October-17-2018.pdf

WOMEN AND CANNABIS INFO SHEET  https://ckphu.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/InfoSheet-Women-Cannabis0308.pdf

LEARN ABOUT YOUR CANNABIS IQ http://mycannabisiq.ca/know-the-risks/

Cannabis and the Law

Canadians were allowed to purchase and consume cannabis for recreational use starting on Oct. 17, 2018. Rules around purchase, growing, consumption and use are covered by a combination of federal and provincial laws, as well as municipal bylaws. An overview is available at https://www.ontario.ca/page/cannabis-legalization.

Reasons to legalize and regulate cannabis

The new legal framework takes a public health approach to cannabis legalization, regulation and use to:

  • better prevent youth from accessing cannabis
  • displace the illegal cannabis market
  • protect public health and safety with product quality and safety requirements for cannabis.


The Cannabis Act permits adults to cultivate up to 4 cannabis plants per household (not per person). Provinces and territories have the flexibility to apply added restrictions on personal cultivation. There are recommended safety and security measures for growing plants that should be considered, such as safe storage and proper ventilation. 


Cannabis, like many other drugs, slows the reaction time of drivers and increases the chances of being in a collision. If a police officer finds that a driver is impaired by any drug, including cannabis, the driver may face criminal offences including:

  • an immediate licence suspension
  • financial penalties
  • possible vehicle impoundment
  • possible criminal record
  • possible jail time.

Chatham-Kent Public Health can assist the people and business owners in the following ways:

  • provide health advice to potential users, parents, teachers and other professionals, as well as employers considering workplace policies
  • business and property owners can "opt-in" to be regulated by "Smoke Free Chatham-Kent" Bylaw 137-2014
  • support residents who use substances and are looking for help.

For more information about the legal use of cannabis in where you live, work and play please contact Chatham Kent Public Health at 519-352-7270.