Cannabis Health Risks

Now that cannabis is legal, is it healthy? Cannabis, like all drugs, has risks associated with use. The only way to avoid all risks completely is to avoid using cannabis (abstinence). If someone chooses to use cannabis, it is important to be informed of the potential effects and to also understand the risks. Don’t know where to start?

Check out your the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care FACT SHEET or for a more interactive experience, visit  CannabisIQ.

Cannabis and the Brain

  • The brain is still developing to the age of 25 and use is not recommended to those under this age
  • Short and long-term effects can include: confusion, sleepiness (fatigue) and impaired ability to remember, concentrate, pay attention, make decisions, intelligence (IQ), anxiety, fear, panic and reduced reaction time
  • Cannabis can also result in psychosis and cause paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations
  • Combining cannabis with tobacco can increase the strength of some of these effects, as well as increase the risk of mental health outcomes including dependence to tobacco products
  • Effects can be felt within seconds to minutes of smoking, vaping, or dabbing cannabis. These effects can last 6 hours or longer
  • If you eat or drink cannabis, these effects can occur within 30minutes but might be delayed up to 2 hours. These effects can last up to 12 hours or longer and users can have a tendency to use too much as the effects aren’t noticed right away.

Download Health Effects info sheet

Mental Health

Frequent cannabis use has been associated with increased risk of:

  • Suicide
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Addiction/dependence
  • Eating disorders

Mental health effects of cannabis are more likely when:

  • Cannabis use starts at a young age
  • Cannabis is used frequently (daily or almost every day)
  • There is a family or personal history of psychosis and/or schizophrenia
  • Prior cannabis use can increase the risk of mental health issues, and history of mental health issues can increase the likelihood of cannabis and other substance use.
  • More research is needed to better understand the effects of cannabis on mental health

Lungs and Cardiac Systems

  • Damaged blood vessels caused by smoke
  • Decreased blood pressure, increasing risk of fainting or passing out
  • Increased heart rate, which is dangerous for people with heart conditions, and can increase the effects of anxiety
  • Bronchitis
  • Lung infections
  • Chronic (long-term) cough
  • Increased mucus production in the throat

Body/ Physical

Cannabis can affect your

  • Coordination
  • Reaction time
  • Attention
  • Decision-making abilities
  • Judgement
  • Cannabis use increases the risk of accidents and injury during high-speed activities like driving, biking, skiing, skateboarding, etc. The impairing effects of cannabis can last for more than 24 hours after cannabis use, even after other effects have faded.
  • Combing alcohol or other substances with cannabis greatly increases the level of impairment and risk of injury or death from accidents

Maternal Health and Cannabis

  • Chemicals from cannabis can pass into breastmilk
  • Frequent cannabis use during pregnancy is associated with low birth weight and increases risks for other adverse health outcomes
  • Prenatal and early exposure to cannabis can affect brain development and lead to negative effects in cognitive and academic achievement
  • Cannabis use during pregnancy can increase risks of attention deficits, hyperactivity, and substance use in children and later in life

Download Women and Cannabis info sheet

Social

Increased cannabis use can contribute to many social issues such as:

  • Interruption or failure in fulfilling major duties at work, school, or home
  • Giving up important social, occupation, or recreational activities
  • Consuming cannabis often, and in larger amounts over a longer period than what was intended
  • Being unable to cut down or control cannabis use
  • Cost associated with increased use

If you or someone you know experiences an issue associated with cannabis use there is help available in our community.