To reduce your risk, you should choose legal cannabis

In Canada, despite the legalization of cannabis, there continues to be a presence of illegal cannabis products being sold and consumed. It's important to understand the distinctions between legal and illegal cannabis and the significance of these differences.


To reduce your risk, you should choose legal cannabis

Even though cannabis is legal, purchasing and using illegal cannabis products poses several risks. Illegal products may not undergo the same rigorous testing and quality control measures as legal ones, potentially leading to health hazards. Additionally, purchasing illegal cannabis perpetuates an unregulated market, which can contribute to criminal activity and undermine the legal framework established for cannabis regulation.

Recognizing legal cannabis products involves understanding the regulations in place and purchasing from licensed dispensaries or authorized retailers. Legal cannabis products are subject to strict quality standards, labeling requirements, and potency limits, ensuring consumer safety and product consistency.

Understanding the differences between legal and illegal cannabis is crucial for consumers to make informed choices about their purchases and consumption habits. By supporting the legal cannabis market, individuals contribute to the overall safety and legitimacy of the industry while minimizing risks associated with illegal products.

Why you should choose legal cannabis

Adults of legal age can purchase cannabis products legally from authorized retailers in Canada. These products must adhere to the regulations outlined in the Cannabis Act, which governs aspects like product quality, promotion, packaging, and labeling. Opting for legal cannabis products is a way to mitigate risks associated with consumption.

Legal cannabis

  • Tested for quality control and harmful levels of contaminants
  • Tested for accuracy on THC and CBD levels so you know exactly what you’re buying
  • If there is a potential safety or quality issue, the manufacturer, licensee or Health Canada may recall

Illegal cannabis

  • Not tested or quality controlled and may contain harmful levels of contaminants, including:
    • heavy metals
    • pesticides
    • mould
    • cutting agents
    • bacteria
  • shows levels of THC and CBD that may be unknown, misleading or false
  • May be manufactured and sold using products or practices that could harm you
  • May contain harmful levels of THC, causing accidental poisoning, emergency room visits, and hospitalization, especially in children
  • May put you at risk for identity theft and financial fraud

How to identify legal cannabis

Legal cannabis products for non-medical purposes are only sold by provincial or territorial authorized retailers.

Legal cannabis products will always have certain information on their packaging and labels. Look for these characteristics to determine whether a cannabis product is legal.

  • An excise tax stamp with a specific color that indicates the province or territory where the product is intended for sale
  • Yellow box with health warning messages in English and French
  • Standardized cannabis symbol
  • Plain, child-resistant packaging (except plants and seeds)
  • Edible cannabis nutrition facts

How to recognize illegal cannabis

Here are the differences you can look for. Illegal products may:

  • Comes in a multi-color packaging
  • Candies or snack foods that look like popular brands
  • Names similar to popular candy or snack food brands
  • Looks like candy that might appeal to children, such as gummy bears
  • Have flashy promotions or other types of publicity, such as celebrity endorsements
  • come in a package that:
    • Not suitable for children
    • Showcase products through packaging
  • not have:
    • an excise stamp
    • Standardized Cannabis Symbol
    • Health warning messages in English and French
  • Claims to contain more than 10 milligrams of THC per package (edibles only), exceeding the maximum allowed content for legal edible products.

THC Limits for Legal Cannabis Products

There are regulations regarding the amount of THC allowed in legal cannabis products. If a product claims to contain more than the permitted limit of THC, then it is not a legal product.

THC limits vary depending on the type of legal cannabis product:

  • Dried or fresh cannabis: no additional THC added (it can only contain as much THC as the plant produces)
  • Edible marijuana: Up to 10 mg of THC per container (regardless of how many edibles are in the container)
  • Cannabis extracts for ingestion or inhalation (as contained in capsules, oils, or vape pens): up to 1,000 mg of THC per container
  • Topicals: Contains up to 1,000 mg of THC per container

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