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Cannabis and your health

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Cannabis and Your Health

The plant cannabis contains hundreds of chemical compounds.

Two that get a lot of attention are:

  • THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is what makes people “high”;
  • CBD (cannabidiol) is used for its pain-killing properties and doesn’t make you feel “high.”

Effects can be felt within seconds to minutes depending on the way you consume cannabis.

Ways of using cannabis When effects could begin How long effects could last
Smoking/vaporizing Seconds to minutes Up to 6 hours*
Swallowing (food/capsules) 30 minutes - 1.5 hours Up to 12 hours*
Under the tongue 5 - 30 minutes Up to 12 hours*

*some effects could last as long as 24 hours

Cannabis can have different effects on the mind. Often, cannabis will cause you to feel “high”, have a sense of well-being, and relaxation. However, cannabis may also cause negative and unpleasant effects including fatigue, confusion, anxiety, fear or panic. Short-term risks of cannabis use are effects on memory and making it harder to learn things, and effects on attention and psychomotor function. Long-term risks of cannabis consumption include permanent harm to mental functioning and risks of depression and anxiety disorders. Smoking cannabis, especially with tobacco, harms your lungs and respiratory system.

Studies have consistently found that the earlier cannabis consumption begins and the more frequently and longer it is used, the greater the risk of potential developmental harms, some of which may be long-lasting or permanent.  

Combining cannabis with alcohol or other drugs greatly increases your risk.

Every time cannabis is consumed it can:

  • Impair your ability to drive safely or operate equipment by slowing your reaction time and reducing your physical co-ordination.
  • Make it harder to learn and remember things by lowering your ability to pay attention.
  • Affect your mood and feelings, and can cause anxiety or panic.
  • Affect your mental health, and can trigger a psychotic episode.

Consuming cannabis regularly (daily or almost daily) and over a long time (several months or years) can:

  • Harm the lungs and make it harder to breathe because cannabis smoke contains many harmful substances. Smoking cannabis, especially with tobacco, harms your lungs and respiratory system.
  • Affect mental health and increase the risk of anxiety, depression, psychosis and schizophrenia
  • Make you physically dependent or addicted. Contrary to popular belief, people can become addicted to cannabis. Approximately nine percent of those who consume cannabis are addicted. Use in adolescence increases the chance of addiction. Get help with problematic substance abuse:
    Tele-care 811
    Addiction Treatment Services, NB Health New Brunswick Addiction Centers

Health effect of Cannabis
Cannabis lower-risk use guidelines

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Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

A pregnant woman or breastfeeding mother’s consumption of cannabis can harm her baby.

The chemicals in cannabis are carried through the mother's blood to her baby during pregnancy. They are stored in the fat of breast milk and passed to infants while breastfeeding. Cannabis can harm a baby’s brain development and can affect important aspects of a child’s thinking and mental health later in life.

The smoke from cannabis is harmful and exposure may result in illness in babies and young children.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada - Not Just An Herb

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Youth and Cannabis

The human brain is not fully developed until age 25.

THC affects the same machinery in the brain that directs brain development. The higher the amount of THC in cannabis the more likely one is to be harmed.

The risks related to cannabis consumption are higher the younger you are when you start using it. Combining cannabis with alcohol or other drugs greatly increases your risk.

Effects on Youth
Talking cannabis with your teen