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



See attachment for recommendations:
LRCUG.KT.Professional.15June2017.pdf (809.9 KB)

Cannabis use and health

Cannabis use is common, especially among adolescents and young adults. There are well-documented risks from cannabis use, both to immediate and long-term health. The main risks include cognitive, psychomotor and memory impairments; hallucinations and impaired perception; impaired driving and injuries (including fatalities); mental health problems (including psychosis); dependence; pulmonary/bronchial problems; and reproductive problems.

Canada has among the highest cannabis use rates in the world.

  • Fatal and non-fatal injuries from motor-vehicle accidents, as well as dependence and other mental health problems, are the most common cannabis-related harms negatively impacting public health.
  • About 1 in 5 people seeking substance use treatment have cannabis-related problems.

How were the LRCUG developed?

The scientific version of the Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines was published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2017 (see reference below), where all data and sources can be found. The original LRCUG had been tabled in 2011; the current version has been updated by an international team of addiction and health experts.

Why Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines?

Cannabis has been illegal for decades, but Canada is moving toward legalizing and regulating its use and supply. The main goals of this policy are to protect public health and public safety. Towards that end, education, prevention and guidance on cannabis use and health are key elements for reducing cannabis-use–related harms and problems in the population. Extensive data show that cannabis use has inherent health risks, but users can make choices as to how and what they use to modify their own risks. The main objective of Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines (LRCUG) is to provide science-based recommendations to enable people to reduce their health risks associated with cannabis use, similar to the intent of health-oriented guidelines for low-risk drinking, nutrition or sexual behavior.

Who are the LRCUG for?

The LRCUG are a health education and prevention tool for:

  • Anyone who is considering using cannabis or has made the choice to use, as well as their family, friends and peers.
  • Any professional, organization or government aiming to improve the health of Canadians who use cannabis through evidence-based information and education.


The Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines (LRCUG) are an evidence-based intervention initiative by the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM), funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). A briefer version of the LRCUG, mainly aimed at people who use cannabis, is available at


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.