Canada’s Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines

Cannabis Use Guidelines

At Greenestone Muskoka we encourage an abstinence-based lifestyle but we recognize that each individuals journey is different; we aim to embrace the desires and needs of each person which includes meeting all of our clients where they are at. With the recent legalization of Cannabis in 2018, it’s important to draw light to harm reduction, especially in regards to substances that are legal in Canada. Harm reduction is an approach used to reduce the harms associated with drug use for those who are not prepared to discontinue their use of substances. The goal is to find the safest way to continue use that will result in the least amount of health and social impacts.

The following is a list of 10 guidelines of Lower Risk Cannabis Use developed by the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse and funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

  1. Abstinence is the only way to ensure you do not experience any impacts of cannabis use: all substances, if misused, can lead to health, social, financial, and possibly legal consequences. The only way to completely avoid the risks associated with cannabis and other drugs is to not use them.
  2. Delay cannabis use for as long as possible: as our brains continue to develop into early adulthood, using cannabis at a young age increases all associated risks, especially in those younger than 16.
  3. Use products with lower amounts of THC: products with higher amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are more likely to cause dependence and/or mental health issues. Choose products lower in THC and higher CBD (cannabidiol). CBD products have been linked to support pain and anxiety relief, speak to a health care profession for more information.
  4. Do not use synthetic cannabis products: these products are dangerous and can lead to serious health complications including seizure and death (example: K2, spice).
  5. Avoid smoking cannabis: smoking anything can increase negative health impacts on our lungs. If engaging in cannabis use, safer use methods include vaping and edibles.
  6. If smoking, avoid inhaling deeply: deeply inhaling smoked products and holding the breath can put us at increased risk for absorption of chemicals and the development of lung problems.
  7. Limit the frequency of your use: using cannabis frequently will increase the likelihood of developing a dependence or experiencing negative consequences. Limit your use to 1-2 times weekly.
  8. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery: cannabis impairs our judgement and reaction time; the effects of cannabis use can last 6+ hours. When combined with alcohol, impairment will increase. It is illegal to drive a vehicle while impaired by cannabis.
  9. Avoid use if you have a personal or family history of mental illness and/or addiction, or if you are pregnant: users who identify with the above are at increased likelihood of experiencing risks associated with cannabis use.
  10. Avoid combining any of the above-mentioned factors: the purpose of these guidelines is to reduce the risk of harm associated with cannabis use. The most risks you take, the greater chance you have of experiencing negative impacts.

Cannabis Use Guidelines

Please take note that these guidelines have been developed for recreational use of cannabis and do not apply to cannabis use for medical purposes. If you are concerned about your medical cannabis consumption, please connect with your prescribing doctor. If you have concerns regarding your recreational use of cannabis, please call Greenestone Muskoka at (705)762-5501 to speak with one of our intake workers on the supports available to you.


Fischer, B., Russell, C., Sabioni, P., van den Brink, W., Le Foll, B., Hall, W., Rehm, J. & Room, R. (2017). Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines (LRCUG): An evidence-based update. American Journal of Public Health, 107 (8). DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.303818.

My experience at Greenestone Muskoka – A client’s testimonial

My experience at Greenestone Muskoka

The following interview was completed by an individual who successfully completed the Greenestone Muskoka’s 45-day inpatient treatment program in early 2019.


Where was your life at before coming to Greenestone?
“It was a disaster, I couldn’t go on the way I was living, I was out of options. A friend of mine had been through the program (at Greenestone) before. I needed something different, a new way of living. What I was doing to be clean on my own was not working”

Why did you choose Greenestone?
“I heard it was a lovely facility that had all of the amenities I needed with a beautiful scenery. It was a get-a-way from my fast-paced life in the city”
What did you learn while you were at Greenestone that helped you the most in early recovery?

“I learned a lot, I learned that I had a disease, not a moral deficiency, I wasn’t aware of that. I learned that I was not the only person who was suffers from this, it (can be) hereditary. I learned many coping skills and tools and I learned that life can be beautiful.”

What made the biggest difference in your treatment?
“I couldn’t go on the way I was living, I didn’t have a choice. I got involved with 12 step programming… it’s like a family now.”
“The counsellors and supports were great but I had to be the one to do the work”

How is Greenestone a part of your recovery today?
“I try to stay in touch, I keep in touch with the people I was here with (co-residents). I am very grateful for what they have done for me, I wouldn’t be clean otherwise.”

How long have you been in recovery for and what is most important to your recovery?
“Three months and 17 days.”
“I go to 12 step meetings everyday. I do service work within the 12-step community. I want to give back. I keep a busy schedule and I took my life back. I put my recovery first and take things day-by-day.”

If there anything else you would like to say about your experience at Greenestone?
“The counsellors are wonderful, I learned a lot of life lessons and how to live life without the use of drugs. I am very thankful for my experience and stay (at Greenestone), I would recommend it to anyone who asked me”

Do you have any advice for anyone interested in addiction treatment?
“You get out what you put in, you have to put the hard work in to get success. Be proactive in your recovery. Get on the right path or you won’t get anything out of it.”

• Past male client of Greenestone Muskoka