Health Risks and Harms

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The long-term impacts of cannabis use may include:

  • Increased risk of Mental illnesses such as Anxiety, Depression, and Psychosis, especially for people with a family history of these illnesses;

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  • Increased risk of developing an addiction to cannabis;
  • Difficulties with memory, attention, concentration, thinking, and reasoning when cannabis is used every day; 

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Breathing problems from smoking cannabis, such as:
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness of the chest
  • Worsening of asthma symptoms
Cannabis-related health problems can be made worse by using cannabis:
  • Regularly at a younger age
  • More frequently (every day or almost every day)
  • In large amounts

Risks for adolescents

It is recommended that children and youth not consume cannabis or be exposed to second-hand cannabis smoke.

Cannabis use impacts areas of the brain that are still developing until young adulthood (about 25 years of age). Cannabis use can cause changes to a young person's brain leading to problems with thinking, concentrating, and emotions. These changes may be less likely to reverse if cannabis use started at a young age.

Using cannabis often at a young age can increase the risk of developing psychosis or a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia.

Cannabis use may also cause problems with learning and school performance

Risks for pregnant women

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It is safest for pregnant or breastfeeding women to avoid cannabis use. It may harm the baby. Cannabis use during pregnancy may lead to a lower birth weight of the baby. The main mind-altering chemical in cannabis (THC) can also accumulate in the breast milk of nursing mothers.

Cannabis use during pregnancy can negatively impact the child throughout development, potentially leading to behavioural issues, difficulties with cognitive functioning, and increased likelihood of substance using behaviours later in life.

Is it possible to overdose on cannabis?

It is possible to take too much cannabis and feel sick. Heavy cannabis use can cause episodes of vomiting and stomach pain that may require medical attention. A common sign of this condition, known as cannabis hyperemesis syndrome, is that hot showers provide temporary relief.

There have been no deaths associated with plant-based cannabis overdose. However, manufactured or synthetic cannabinoids (e.g., Spice and K2) can cause death.

High doses of cannabis can result in intense emotions and sensations, including Anxiety, Panic, Paranoia, Psychosis, and Hallucinations.

 

Resources:

Cannabis Rack Card