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Cannabis (marijuana) is a drug that's made up of the leaves, flowers, and buds of the cannabis plant. People may use cannabis for medical or recreational reasons. The two most active chemicals in cannabis are THC and CBD. THC can make you feel "high." CBD can help you feel relaxed without the "high."
There are many ways people can use cannabis. For instance, people can smoke it as a dried plant or inhale it as a vapour. They can brew it into tea, spray it under the tongue, or apply it to the skin. Or they can eat it in prepared or homemade foods (edibles).
People often use cannabis for the way it makes them feel. Or they may use it for medical reasons. Using it may make them:
Cannabis can also cause unwanted side effects, such as:
Long-term use of cannabis may increase the risk of problems such as:
Using cannabis isn't safe for you or your baby. If used during pregnancy, it can harm a developing baby (fetus). It can pass from the mother's blood to the baby's blood. And it can pass from your breast milk to your baby during breastfeeding.
Cannabis can cause problems for you during your pregnancy and when it's time for your baby to be born. It may also affect your baby both before and after the birth. This is even more true for people who regularly use a lot of cannabis.
Health Canada says that cannabis use during pregnancy may:footnote 1
THC is found in breast milk. It can cause problems with feeding. Health Canada says that babies exposed to THC in breast milk may:footnote 1
Using cannabis before the age of 25 can affect a young person's brain development, as well as emotional and social development. Some young people who use cannabis may develop cannabis use disorder. They may find it hard to control their use. They may keep using cannabis even though it's having harmful effects on their lives.
Cannabis affects the parts of the brain that deal with judgment, decision making, and emotions. This can make it harder for young people to think, learn, reason, remember, solve problems, and make good choices. And they may be less able to control their emotions and actions. For example, they may engage in risky behaviours like driving when "high," having unsafe sex, binge drinking, or using other drugs.
Young people who use cannabis may be more likely to have anxiety and depression than others who don't. And they may have more problems in school, relationships, and work.
Synthetic cannabis is made of dried plant material that is treated with chemicals that produce effects like cannabis's effects. It is sold in the form of incense under many names, such as K2 or Spice. The labels often claim that these products are "safe" or "natural." But in fact, the active chemicals are created in a lab. And they have not been tested for safety.
Some people try these products because they are easy to buy and they may not be detected by drug tests.
People think that using these drugs will make them feel the same as when they use cannabis. But these drugs can be stronger than cannabis. And the effects are hard to predict. That's because the type and strength of the chemicals used are often unknown. Some people have reported severe symptoms, such as:
CitationsGovernment of Canada (2018). Is cannabis safe during preconception, pregnancy, and breastfeeding?: Cannabis evidence brief. Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/drugs-health-products/is-cannabis-safe-during-preconception-pregnancy-breastfeeding.html. Accessed February 27, 2019.Public Health Agency of Canada. (2019). Canada's lower-risk cannabis use guidelines. Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-medication/cannabis/resources/lower-risk-cannabis-use-guidelines.html. Accessed April 26, 2022.
Current as of: March 22, 2023
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Patrice Burgess MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineMichael F. Bierer MD - Internal Medicine, Addiction Medicine
Current as of: March 22, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Patrice Burgess MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Michael F. Bierer MD - Internal Medicine, Addiction Medicine
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