Information update

Alcohol, Cannabis and Drug Use During the Holiday Season

Starting date:
December 17, 2019
Posting date:
December 17, 2019
Type of communication:
Information Update
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Important Safety Information
General Public
Identification number:

Last updated: 2019-12-17

For Immediate Release

OTTAWA -Health Canada recognizes that some Canadians may choose to consume alcohol, cannabis or other drugs while celebrating the holiday season and the New Year. While your safest option is to not consume these substances at all, you can reduce the risk of potential harms by using moderation and understanding the health and safety risks.

Tips to reduce health risks and potential harms associated with using alcohol, cannabis and other drugs:

  • Do not drive after consuming alcohol, cannabis or other drugs. Decide who will be the designated driver before you consume any substances. Otherwise, take a taxi, walk, or use public transportation.
  • Do not get into a car if you suspect the driver has consumed alcohol, cannabis or other drugs, and ensure that the driver does not continue driving.
  • Avoid mixing substances such as alcohol, cannabis and other drugs. The results can be unpredictable and dangerous.
  • To buy, possess or use alcohol or cannabis legally, you must be of legal age. Check with your province or territory to confirm the legal age for where you live or are visiting.
  • If you are travelling over the holidays, remember that it is illegal to transport cannabis across the Canadian border. It is also illegal to transport medications that are not prescribed to you across the Canadian border (this includes products containing CBD).


  • Reduce your risk of injury and harm by not drinking more than 3 drinks (for women) or 4 drinks (for men) on any single occasion and no more than 10 drinks a week (for women) and 15 drinks (for men).
  • Never leave your drink unattended, and do not accept drinks-even water-from someone you do not know and trust.
  • Do not mix alcohol with energy drinks. This can mask symptoms of intoxication.
  • Know the signs of alcohol poisoning and call 9-1-1 or your local emergency help line if you think someone is experiencing a poisoning.


  • Start with a small amount of THC (2.5 mg or less for edible cannabis, or 1 or 2 puffs of a vape or joint with 10% or less THC) and wait until you feel the effects before you take more. Everyone's response to cannabis is different.
  • Edible cannabis products present unique health and safety risks. It takes longer to feel the effects of edible cannabis, which could increase your risk of overconsumption. To learn more about the differences between inhaling and ingesting cannabis, see our educational resource: What you need to know if you choose to consume cannabis.
  • Keep all cannabis products locked up and out of reach of children and pets.
  • Call a doctor or your local poison control centre if you or someone you know is experiencing an adverse reaction after having consumed a cannabis product. If someone is in medical distress, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency help line or bring them to the closest emergency room.

Other drugs, such as opioids

  • Any illegal drug can be contaminated with other dangerous substances, including highly toxic opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil. These substances cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, and consuming as little as the equivalent of a few grains of salt can lead to overdose and even death.
  • Never use drugs alone. Most deadly overdoses occur when people are alone without any access to help. Stay with your friends and people you trust.
  • Never use prescription medications intended for someone else.
  • If you choose to use drugs and are checking them with a test kit, know that test kits have limitations for detecting dangerous substances.
  • If you or someone you know uses drugs, carry naloxone, which can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose. Many locations across the country offer free kits.
  • If someone looks unwell and you suspect that they may have overdosed on drugs, do not leave them alone. Stay with them and immediately call 9-1-1 or your local emergency help line. Follow their instructions.
  • Stay until help arrives. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act protects individuals from simple drug possession charges and some violations of conditions related to simple possession when seeking emergency help during an overdose situation.

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