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under 25

Cannabis use can impact brain development for people under 25.

That’s because, up until that point, your brain is still developing.

Using cannabis before the age of 25 could affect your attention, judgment, decision making and ability to learn.

The earlier in life you begin using cannabis, the higher your risk of serious health problems. Delaying cannabis use until later in life can reduce your risk.

But the fact is, all forms of cannabis use have health risks. The only way to completely avoid these risks is by choosing not to use cannabis.

If you do choose to use cannabis, here are some tips to reduce your risk of harm:

  • Choose products that have low levels of THC or a higher ratio of cannabidiol (CBD) to THC. Always read the label of any products you're thinking about trying. The type or strain, strength, and effects of cannabis can vary greatly.
  • Don't use synthetic cannabis, such as K2 and Spice. These drugs are stronger than cannabis and can have dangerous side effects including seizures, irregular heartbeat, hallucinations, and in rare cases, death. While cannabis is included in the name, these synthetic drugs do not contain actual cannabis.
  • Avoid smoking cannabis. The smoke can damage your lungs. Other forms of cannabis use, such as vaping or edibles, are less harmful for your lungs but still have health risks.
  • If you choose to smoke cannabis, avoid breathing in deeply or holding your breath. This can increase your risk of lung damage.
  • Try to limit your cannabis use as much as possible, such as one day a week, or only on weekends. Frequent use is associated with a higher risk of health problems.
  • Don't drive or operate machinery after using cannabis. Using cannabis may affect your judgment, coordination, and decision making. It can also increase your risk of being in a collision. If you are using cannabis, make a plan to get home safely. For example, choose a designated driver or take a taxi or bus.
  • Don’t ride in a vehicle with someone who has recently used cannabis.
  • Some people are at a higher risk for problems related to cannabis use. Avoid cannabis if you have a personal or family history of psychosis or substance use problems.
  • There is no known safe amount or form of cannabis to use while pregnant or breastfeeding. If you’re pregnant, think you might be, or are trying to become pregnant, avoid using cannabis. If you are unable to stop using cannabis completely, try using less and less often.
  • Avoid combining risky behaviours related to cannabis use. The more risks you take, the greater the chances of harming your health.

See Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines for more information.

Talking about Cannabis

Talking to Children & Youth about Cannabis

Have conversations early that reflect your own values toward the use of drugs and other substances such as alcohol and cigarettes.

It’s important to talk about the risks that come with using cannabis before 25. Until then, the brain isn’t fully developed and cannabis use could impact memory, learning, attention, judgment and decision making.

A good approach is to understand the facts around substance use. Taking anything that changes the way you think, act and feel could have consequences on major life areas. This could include poor performance in school and dropping out of things you enjoy.

If you know someone under the age of 18 who is using or considering using cannabis, encourage them to think about where they do it, who they are with, why they are using, and what they are doing while using. Thinking about the possible risks that come with cannabis use and brainstorming ways to reduce these risks is always a good idea.

Remember this: Whether or not they express it, children and youth care about your opinion. It matters and can help with decision making.

Keeping Children Safe Around Cannabis

  • Do not smoke or vapourize cannabis in the home or around children. Second-hand smoke is harmful, especially for children.
  • Do not use cannabis when children are present. Using cannabis may reduce your ability to make decisions, respond to your children’s needs, or react in an emergency.
  • Do not prepare or consume edible cannabis products when children are present. Edible cannabis products increase the risk of accidental consumption, as they may be mistaken for regular food or drinks.
  • Keep cannabis and all drugs (including alcohol, tobacco and tobacco-like products) in their original containers and make sure they are clearly labelled.  Keep all drugs locked up, out of sight and out of reach of children and pets.
  • If a child is exposed to cannabis and shows signs of distress, contact Poison & Drug Information Service (PADIS) (tollfree 1-800-332-1414) or Health Link (call 811 or 1-866-408-5465 for internet phone users).
  • For more parenting resources, please visit Healthy Parents, Healthy Children.

Help & Support

If you are concerned about your own or someone else’s use of cannabis, alcohol, or another drug, please contact Health Link at 811 (1-866- 408-5465 for internet phone users) or the Addiction Helpline at 1-866-332-2322.

Get resources

Know the Rules

Cannabis became legal across Canada on October 17, 2018. Find out what it means for Albertans by visiting www.alberta.ca/cannabis.

For Health Professionals

General Cannabis Resources

Medical Cannabis

Drugsafe.ca cannabis information is primarily dedicated to non-medical cannabis, but here are some links related to medical cannabis:

Edibles, Extracts and Topicals

For Parents, Families & Influencers of Youth

For Educators

Alberta Health Services is working with school health partners to provide key cannabis resources for teachers, school administrators, and other educators.

Clarity on Cannabis Series

Éclaircissements sur le cannabis

For Pregnant & Breastfeeding Women

More Cannabis Info

For more information visit:

help and support

If you need help or are concerned with someone else’s substance use, call:

Health Link at 811 or
1-866-332-2322 the Addiction Helpline
(available 24 hours a day, seven days a week)