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Cannabis

What is Cannabis?
The term Cannabis refers to the whole plant, Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis indica, and the substances extracted from it. The term “marijuana” is used to refer to the dried leaves and flowering tops of the cannabis plant. When a cannabis plant is grown it contains chemical compounds that are unique to the plant, also known as cannabinoids.  Delta-9-tetadydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the cannabinoids referred to most often. THC is the main psychoactive cannabinoid and is most responsible for the “high” people who use cannabis may experience.  CBD has little or no psychoactive effects and is thought to mitigate the “high” feeling from THC. 

The levels of THC and CBD in cannabis can var y between:
  • The strain of cannabis plants grown
  • The parts of the plant being used
  • The method being used to extract cannabinoids and processes the cannabis plant
Cannabis can be consumed in different ways. Cannabis can be breathed into the lungs by smoking or by using a pipe, bong or vapourizer. Cannabis can also be eaten if it is prepared as an oil, tincture, pill or cooked into an “edible” or food form. There are different risks linked to the different ways cannabis is consumed.

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How does cannabis make you feel if you use it? 
How cannabis affects you depends on:
  • how much you use
  • the potency of the product
  • the relative amount of THC and CBD in the product
  • how often and how long you’ve used it
  • how it was consumed (ie: whether you smoke, vape or eat it)
  • your age
  • whether you have certain pre-existing medical or mental health conditions
  • whether you’ve taken any alcohol or other drugs (illegal, prescription, over-the-counter or herbal)
People can have very different experiences with cannabis. Some may feel relaxed, lively, talkative and even euphoric, while others feel tense, sleepy, anxious, fearful and/or confused.

Risks of cannabis use
Cannabis can be harmful to your mental and physical health, especially if you use:
  • At an early age 
  • Often, such as every day or almost every day
  • A large amount 
  • With other drugs, like tobacco or alcohol
  • Higher THC level products
Combining alcohol, prescription drugs, or other illegal drugs with cannabis can produce unknown and dangerous reactions.

Cannabis use can affect your health in short and long-term ways. While there are some limitations to what we know, there are some well-documented risks associated with cannabis use, including:
  • cognitive, psychomotor and memory impairments
  • hallucinations and impaired perception
  • impaired driving and injuries (including fatalities)
  • mental health problems (including psychosis)
  • dependence
  • pulmonary/bronchial problems
There are also specific health risks associated with cannabis use for the following:
Reducing the Risks
Using cannabis is a personal choice.  If you choose to use cannabis there are things you can do that limit the possible harms to your health.

Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines recommends:
  • The safest choice is no cannabis use at all
  • Using cannabis at an earlier age increases health and social issues. Delay the use of cannabis until later in life
  • Choose lower risk cannabis products with lower tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels
  • Avoid synthetic (man-made) cannabinoids as they have higher THC levels
  • Avoid smoking cannabis and choose safer methods of using
  • If you do smoke cannabis avoid deep inhaling and breath holding
  • Reduce and limit the amount of cannabis you use and how often you use it
  • Wait six hours after using cannabis before using any type of vehicle or machinery
  • Do not use cannabis if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or you are at risk of mental health problems
  • Avoid combining these risks

If you choose to use cannabis ensure it is stored safely to prevent accidental ingestion by children or pets.

Where to go for help:
Try this quiz to see where you are at with cannabis

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