Health Reports

Cannabis legalization: the opinion of medical specialists

Since 2001, access to cannabis for medical purposes has been legal in Canada. In 2018, the federal government legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Following in its footsteps, the Quebec government passed a bill and created the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC).

From a medical point of view, several specialties feel directly concerned and apprehensive about the issue of legalizing cannabis, particularly because of the expected effects on the health of the population in general, and particularly on the health of young people or more vulnerable clienteles.

The FMSQ then issued several recommendations aimed at protecting the population. Subsequently, the Quebec government adopted a bill tightening the framework for the legalization of cannabis and raising the legal age from 18 to 21. The FMSQ supported this legislation because science shows that cannabis consumption has harmful effects on young people under the age of 25.

Cannabis use: what are the effects on behaviour and health?

The harmful effects of cannabis on health are numerous. The FMSQ is concerned about the impact of the legalization of cannabis in Quebec on the increase in the prevalence of certain diseases such as :

  • Lung cancer
  • Obstructive Lung Disease
  • Cases of asthma and bronchitis
  • Pregnancies at risk
  • Adverse interactions with certain types of drugs
  • Trauma resulting from motor vehicle accidents
  • Digestive disorders
  • Reproductive health disorders

Effects on the brain

Numerous studies have demonstrated the effects of cannabis use on the brains of young people under the age of 25. A scientific study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry shows that young people who stop using cannabis for just one week see their academic learning and memory improve very quickly.

Another study published in the Journal of Neuroscience shows changes in brain regions affecting emotions in youth who smoke cannabis at least once a week.

Other concerns

THC levels

The THC content of cannabis and its derivatives is a major factor influencing the level of risk to the consumer. The FMSQ has requested that this content be determined and that it be subject to both strict supervision and rigorous control measures by the government. The causal link between THC content and product dependency must also be studied by the Institut national d'excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS).

Cannabis edible products

Edible cannabis products, in solid or liquid form, also pose a health risk. The FMSQ expects a strict regulatory framework and rigorous control mechanisms. Cases of intoxication of elderly people with pot cookies have been reported recently.

The link between tobacco and cannabis consumption

Many health professionals, including medical specialists, have expressed concerns about the effects of tobacco and the predisposition to use cannabis. This causal link has been demonstrated in numerous studies, including that of the Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ).

Preventing Cannabis Use Through Awareness

The FMSQ expects that the legalization of cannabis use will result in increased costs to the health care system. An awareness campaign among youth on the effects of cannabis use on physical and mental health is therefore essential. Awareness of the health harms of tobacco and cannabis use should be an integral part of the academic curriculum, as should nutrition, health management (hygiene and basic health care) and the adoption of healthy lifestyle habits.

Our specialists in the media

"We know that during pregnancy it's dangerous for the baby. Whether it's pot, other drugs or alcohol, there's no minimum requirement."

Dr. Diane Francoeur, FMSQ President, 98,5 FM March 13, 2019


"Cannabis smoking among youth under 21 years of age will increase the prevalence of certain long-term diseases, such as lung cancer, obstructive lung disease, asthma and bronchitis, high-risk pregnancies and adverse drug interactions, trauma from motor vehicle accidents, digestive disorders and reproductive health.”

Dr. Diane Francœur, FMSQ President, Le Devoir, December 8, 2018


"In Quebec, cannabis use is already too normalized. We see young people suffering from toxic psychoses and victims of accidents due to faculties impaired by cannabis and other drugs. »

Dr. Gilbert Boucher, President of the Association des spécialistes en médecine d'urgence du Québec (ASMUQ), ASMUQ press release, December 5, 2018


"One thing I'd like parents to understand as well is that today's cannabis is not the cannabis they smoked when they were 15 years old."

Dr. Karine J. Igartua, President of the AMPQ, Le Soleil, January 17, 2018


Useful links

Institut national de santé publique : 

Association des médecins psychiatres du Québec :

Collège des médecins du Québec : 

Ontario Medical Association :