What is cannabis?

Cannabis is a psychoactive drug that comes from the cannabis sativa plant, and is used for both medical and non-medical purposes in Canada.

Cannabis contains hundreds of chemicals. Two of the main chemicals are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (T H C) and Cannabidiol (C B D). T H C is responsible for the “high” that can come with cannabis use and Cannabidiol has little or no psychoactive effects. For more information on what cannabis is and how it is used see The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

How does cannabis affect you?

Cannabis affects everyone differently, depending on factors such as:

  • How much is used
  • How often it is used
  • The concentration of different chemicals
  • Whether it is smoked, vaped, or eaten
  • Your age and if you have any medical conditions
  • If you are mixing cannabis with alcohol or other drugs

You may feel:

  • Happy, relaxed, giddy
  • Tense, anxious, confused, panicked, tired, or have trouble concentrating or thinking
  • That you are experiencing distorted perceptions (how you see, feel, hear, and sense things)

Cannabis use can have negative effects on your health:

  • Cannabis can impact the growth and development of your brain. The human brain is still developing until the age of 25, which puts youth at greater risk for negative impacts on their memory and thinking abilities.
  • Like smoking tobacco, smoking cannabis can lead to lung and breathing issues.
  • Heavy, frequent cannabis use can lead to dependence, which can impact your health and many other aspects of your life such as relationships and work.
  • Using cannabis may increase your risk of mental illnesses such as psychosis, especially if you start using at a young age or have a family history of psychosis.
  • The Government of Canada provides more information regarding the Health Effects of Cannabis.

How can you reduce your risk?

Not using cannabis is the best way to reduce your risk.

If you do choose to use non-medical cannabis, check out this resource from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health on how to reduce your risks: Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines. Here are some examples:

Medical use of cannabis

Research is ongoing for the medicinal use of cannabis. Cannabis has been prescribed to manage nausea (such as for chemotherapy patients) and for specific types of chronic diseases (for example, cancer related pain).

  • If you are considering using cannabis to treat a medical issue it is important that you talk to your health care provider first.
  • Keep any medicinal cannabis secure and stored in a place where infants, children, and youth cannot reach it.
  • Just like with other prescription drugs, do not share medicinal cannabis with friends, family, or youth.

Looking for help?

If you are looking for help, or worried about someone else’s substance use here are some supports: