Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines (LRCUG)


The Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines are an evidence based intervention project by the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM).

For more details about the LRCUG, please see the following:

The science-based recommendations of the LRCUG aimed at reducing health risks related to cannabis use include:

  • Cannabis use has health risks best avoided by abstaining
  • Delay taking up cannabis use until later in life
  • Identify and choose lower-risk cannabis products
  • Don’t use synthetic cannabinoids
  • Avoid smoking burned cannabis – choose safer ways of using
  • If you smoke cannabis, avoid harmful smoking practices
  • Limit and reduce how often you use cannabis
  • Don’t use and drive, or operate other machinery
  • Avoid cannabis use altogether if you are at risk for mental health problems or are pregnant
  • Avoid combining these risks

The recommendations are aimed mostly at non-medical cannabis use.  They have been endorsed by:

Canadian Centre on Substance Use & Addiction (CCSA)

Marijuana & Youth

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use & Addiction (CCSA) has engaged in extensive public consultation & research to determine how to address marijuana/cannabis use in youth.  In these efforts, CCSA has:

  • Conducted qualitative research, speaking with youth across the country to understand their views about marijuana. See the technical report, What Canadian Youth Think about Cannabis (2013) and Canadian Youth Perceptions on Cannabis (2017).
  • Developed a five​​-part marijuana research series, “Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis,” which includes a look at marijuana’s impact on cognitive functioning and mental health, respiratory functioning, pregnancy and driving. The series also reviews the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
  • Conducted a ​meta-analytic review of school-based prevention programs​ for marijuana use in an attempt to identify features that influenced program effectiveness.
  • Released The Effects of Cannabis Use during Adolescence, the next installment of the Substance Abuse in Canada research series. This report gives parents​, teachers, healthcare providers and policy makers the opportunity to use the evidence in the report to develop and employ more effective youth drug use prevention and intervention programs.

Other key publications include:

Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis

In 2017, CCSA researchers determined that driving under the influence of cannabis (DUIC) costs an estimated $1 billion per year in Canada in the study “Estimating the Harms and Costs of Cannabis-Attributable Collisions in the Canadian Provinces.”  Cost was estimated by studying DUIC associated fatalities, injuries and damage to property in the Canadian provinces and territories in 2012. The highest costs are associated with fatalities, with young adults between the ages of 16–34 accounting for two-thirds of all DUIC fatalities.
Other key findings include: ​

  • In 2012, cannabis collisions in Canada resulted in an estimated 75 fatalities, 4,407 injuries and 7,794 victims of property damage only (PDO) collisions, with an estimated economic and social cost of approximately $1 billion.
  • The highest costs are associated with fatalities, accounting for more than 58% of the costs.
  • While less than fatalities, injury costs and costs related to PDO collisions are also substantial.
  • 16–34 year olds represent only 32% of the Canadian population, but 61% of the cannabis-attributable fatalities. This group also disproportionately represents 59% of the cannabis-attributable injuries and 68% of the people involved in cannabis-attributable PDO collisions. ​

This information has been summarized in the following publications:

  • Cost of Cannabis Collisions in Canadian Provinces in 2012 (infographic)
  • Collisions Attributable to Cannabis: Estimating the Harms & Costs in the Canadian Provinces (report at a glance)

Other Resources

  • Legalizing & Strictly Regulating Cannabis: The Facts (Government of Canada, 2017) provides a rationale for the Federal decision to legalize/regulate cannabis. The proposed Cannabis Act would create a strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada.
  • The Downside of High (44 min.) is a documentary hosted by David Suzuki and published by CBC as part of the series The Nature of Things in 2010. This documentary features the stories of three young people from British Columbia who experienced serious mental health issues as a result of cannabis use.  Interviews with researchers investigating the links between high THC cannabis and psychosis provide a scientific perspective on some of the little-known and little discussed risks of marijuana, particularly for teenagers.
  • Your kid’s brain on pot: the real effect of marijuana on teens is an article by Adriana Barton, published by the Globe & Mail newspaper on Oct. 16, 2014.  The article examines the effects of marijuana (cannabis) on the developing brains of teens, and finds there is no such thing as a harmless habit.