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Note

In Quebec, only the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) can sell this drug. Cannabis can be sold in many forms, including dried flowers or leaves, resin (also known as hashish), oil and concentrates. It can also be found in beverages, but the sale of most edible products (candies, chocolate, desserts, etc.) are prohibited in Quebec.

What is cannabis?

Cannabis is a natural drug derived from the plant of the same name. It comes in many varieties, each of which produces a different effect.

Cannabis is composed of more than 500 substances. The two main components are:

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): this is the main psychoactive substance in cannabis. It is responsible for the plant’s psychoactive effects.
  • Cannabidiol (CBD): this chemical has no psychoactive properties. It may act as a “modulator” of THC by alleviating some of its side effects, such as anxiety. However, research in this area is still new and findings remain inconclusive.
What is a psychoactive substance?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Psychoactive substances are substances that, when taken in or administered into one’s system, affect mental processes, e.g., cognition or affect.” These substances may cause feelings of relaxation, euphoria and the loss of inhibitions, as well as more intense effects such as hallucinations.

The effects of cannabis

The effects caused by cannabis vary, depending primarily on the category of the variety consumed. The SQDC classifies varieties into three categories:

  • Sativa, whose effects are generally stimulating, energizing and uplifting.
  • Indica, whose effects are generally calming, relaxing and sleep-inducing.
  • Hybrid, whose effects are a mix of Sativa and Indica.
A number of effects may be observed across all categories of cannabis:
  • A sense of well-being and relaxation
  • Decreased short- and medium-term memory
  • Increased sense of creativity
  • Increased appetite
  • Decreased reaction times
  • Changes in the perception of time, colours and sounds
The effects caused by cannabis and their intensity also depend on other factors, such as:
  • Age
  • The amount consumed
  • The THC content of the variety consumed
  • The method of use (smoked, mixed with food and ingested, etc.)
  • The user’s mood
  • The social setting
  • The simultaneous intake of medication or other substances
  • The user’s mental state

The combined influence of all these factors means that the effects of cannabis can vary greatly, not only from person to person but also from one time to another, even if the variety consumed is the same. These various factors can also lead to undesirable effects such as anxiety or even paranoia.

When cannabis is inhaled (smoked or vaporized), its effects are almost immediate and usually subside within six hours. When ingested, its effects can be felt 30 minutes to two hours later and can last up to 12 hours.

Addiction and withdrawal

Like other psychoactive substances, cannabis can be both psychologically and physically addictive.

Psychological addiction is tied to the anticipated effects of cannabis. An addicted person may consume cannabis to feel good, to relax or to fall asleep. When addicted persons stop using, they may experience symptoms such as:

  • An irresistible urge to consume (cravings)
  • Irritability, anger, restlessness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Reduced appetite

Physical addiction stems from the body’s addiction to the effects of cannabis. When addicted persons stop using, they may experience symptoms such as:

  • abdominal pain
  • headaches
  • tremors
  • heavy sweating, fever

In Canada, it is estimated that nine percent of users will develop an addiction to cannabis. This figure rises to 17 percent when use begins in adolescence. The risk of addiction is higher when the brain is still developing. The brain reaches maturity around the age of 25. Among daily users, 25 to 50 percent will develop some form of addiction.

We can help you 

If you are concerned about your cannabis consumption or that of a loved one, you don’t have to face it alone: call us at 1-800-265-2626 or use the chat feature at the bottom of our site, on the right. We can offer you personalized support and information and refer you to resources tailored to your situation. Our services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Sources : Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) / Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Québec / Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) / Centre for Addiction and Mental Health / Institut national de santé publique du Québec / Association québécoise des neuropsychologues / Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction / Canadian Public Health Association / Cannabis Regulation Act