Is My Cannabis Use Problematic? Take This Easy Self-Assessment And Find Out

Ask yourself the following six questions to find out whether or not your use of cannabis would be considered problematic by professionals:

  1. Have you ever smoked before noon?

  2. Have you ever smoked when you were alone?

  3. Have you ever had memory issues when you smoked?

  4. Have friends or family ever said you should reduce your use?

  5. Have you tried to cut down or stop smoking unsuccessfully before?

  6. Has your cannabis use ever caused problems, for example bad results at school or work, accidents, fights, being unable to do important things you were hoping to do, etc.)?

If you’ve answered yes to two or more of these questions, you could benefit from counselling.

The Must-Knows About Legal Weed In Canada

Effective October 17th, 2018, cannabis will be legal in Canada under the Cannabis Act.

Here's what you need to know: 

  • To buy, possess or use cannabis, you must be of legal age (that's 19 in Ontario). Selling to or sharing with people under the legal age is strictly forbidden. 

  • The only place to buy legal cannabis for now is online, via the Ontario Cannabis Store. This means that street dispensaries will remain illegal. 

  • You can possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis.  

  • Legal cannabis can be distinguished from illegal cannabis, because it has an excise stamp. 

  • Medical marijuana will continue to be provided by health care practitioners. 

  • Your weed needs to be stored away from children, youth and pets. 

  • Driving high and working high remain illegal. This is because cannabis can impair your ability to operate vehicles and equipment safely. 

  • You won't be able to take any weed across the border. This applies to all countries, irrespective if cannabis is legal there or not. You might want to be extra cautious when travelling to the US. 

If you are worried that legalization will negatively impact your frequency or amount of use of cannabis, consider the following suggestions: 

  • Try to identify the feeling that makes you want to use. Many people use cannabis to self-medicate symptoms of depression and anxiety. It might be a good time to look into treatment options and support groups. 

  • Reach out for support. Everything is easier when loved ones are able to assist you. Try it - people love being asked for help, whether they are family members, friends, or professionals. I'm always happy to speak with you, too, and might be able to point you in the direction of additional support. 

  • Reducing or stopping your cannabis use usually takes more than one attempt. It's especially hard when you surround yourself with other users.

  • Seek out sober environments and make non-cannabis related activities and people a priority. 

Cannabis Use In Pregnancy Isn't Safe

I recently attended an excellent presentation on substance use in pregnancy, which was held by Dr. Erin Lurie, addiction medicine fellow at the University of Toronto and staff member at the Substance Use in Pregnancy Clinic (SUP) at St Michael’s Hospital.

Dr. Lurie's presentation was part of a series of educational events called Addiction Rounds facilitated by CAMH.

If you are interested, you can find out more about these and similar events through the EEnet connect  events calendar.

Of the issues that Dr. Lurie discussed, I personally found her research update on cannabis use in pregnancy most fascinating. 

With the pending legalization of Cannabis in Ontario, I thought it could be helpful to share some of her findings in this newsletter.  

Below, please find an interview with Dr. Lurie on substance use in pregnancy and while breastfeeding:

Dr. Lurie, as someone who is directly involved in medical work with women who use alcohol, cannabis or heroin in pregnancy and while breastfeeding, what is the most important thing you would like us to know about your area of expertise?

The most important thing to know is that any active substance use in breastfeeding has the potential to be harmful. It sounds like a bit of a hard line, but the risk is really both with the exposure of the specific substance through the breastmilk as well as the risk of caring for a young newborn and infant while intoxicated. While we do not have great Canadian guidelines on substance exposure and breastfeeding, the American Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has excellent guidelines on the issue.

Thank you for pointing that out. In my experience, most people focus on substance use during pregnancy and hardly ever talk about substance use when breastfeeding - other than, perhaps, when they try to play down the risk of alcohol consumption during that time. Specifically with regards to cannabis use, what is it that people need to be aware of in this context?

With the upcoming legalization of cannabis it’s important to point out that there is NO safe timeline after use for exposure with breastfeeding.

Meaning that even if we were to smoke at the end of the day, it would not be safe to breastfeed the next morning?

Correct. THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis. It stays in the body for a very long time: up to 48 hours in infrequent users, and in chronic users or people who use nearly daily even up to four days. THC also likes to store in fatty tissue, and breast milk, especially early on, is very very fatty. THC has been shown to be concentrated in breast milk and be up to eight times the amount that would be in the same person’s bloodstream.

Wow! And with regard to cannabis use in pregnancy - what would you tell those that advertise cannabis as anti-nauseant?

Well, we know that both the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, as well as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommend to abstain from cannabis use during pregnancy in their 2017 guidelines. This is because it has been shown that some of the risks of prenatal exposure to cannabis include decreased fetal growth, preterm birth, miscarriage, stillbirth, and significant long-term neurobehavioural changes. The latter have been documented by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction [see infographic below] and can impact children and young adults up to 22 years of age.  

So, when we compare all of this to the effects of opiate replacement therapies during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, is it safe to say that the negative effects of alcohol or cannabis use are actually much worse for the child, both long-term and short-term, than, say of Methadone?

Correct. In the absence of any other substance use, opiate replacement therapy - including Methadone and Suboxone - is very safe, and even protective to prevent neonatal abstinence syndrome (the withdrawal a baby experiences when they are no longer exposed to opiates from the mom after delivery). For women who are stable in their recovery from opiates, breastfeeding is encouraged.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions, Dr. Lurie. 

As always, I hope this article has been helpful to you. 

Annina Schmid

The Substance Use in Pregnancy Clinic (SUP)
at St Michael’s Hospital is open to referrals:

St. James Town Health Centre
410 Sherbourne St., 1st Floor
Open Wednesdays 12:00 – 4:00

Using a multidisciplinary health care model, the clinic helps to support women with previous or active substance use throughout their pregnancy

Patients can be seen within the week and can drop in for their first appointment.
Please email either Dr Lurie ( or Dr Turner ( for referrals of pregnant patients only.