Know how cannabis affects you

Cannabis is a plant that has hundreds of chemicals. Some of these chemicals are called cannabinoids, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is psychoactive, meaning it affects your brain to create a “high” feeling, while CBD is non-psychoactive. Some research shows that CBD may help treat specific medical conditions.

Leaves and buds from the cannabis plant can be smoked or vaped. Cannabis can also be used to make oils and waxes that are either smoked, vaped, eaten or drank. 

Cannabis can affect people differently. It can make you feel happy, relaxed and talkative or it may cause unpleasant effects. These can include confusion, sleepiness, anxiety, fear, and panic or seeing and hearing things that aren’t really there.  

Know how cannabis affects you 

There is still a lot to learn about cannabis. Here are a few things to know so you can make safe and responsible decisions about cannabis that will keep your mind and body at their full potential.

Cannabis can change the way your brain grows and develops. 

The brain grows and develops until you are about 25 years old. Brain development happens rapidly when you are a teenager.

Using cannabis often before you are 25 years old can affect the way your brain grows and develops.

During the teen years, the brain goes through changes to develop the “thinking brain”. The thinking brain controls important things like decision-making, judgement and problem solving. The THC in cannabis hijacks the system causing the thinking brain to not develop normally. When the thinking brain is not well developed, teens rely on their “emotional brain” instead which can cause things like poor decision-making.

These changes may make it harder to learn, pay attention and remember important things. In the short-term, cannabis impairment can cause poor decision-making and/or risky decisions. It can also effect decision making long term because of the effects on the thinking brain.

To help your brain reach its full potential for life, try to avoid using cannabis or wait until your mid-20s. Saying no to using cannabis doesn’t always have to mean never, but sometimes it should mean not yet.

Cannabis can lead to mental health problems. 

Using cannabis everyday or a few times a week in your teenage years can increase the risk of experiencing psychosis and schizophrenia, especially if someone in your family has or had these conditions.

Some people say they use cannabis to help them cope with stress or their mental health. If you find you are using cannabis for these reasons, check out how to deal with stress in a positive way.

Cannabis can be hard to quit. 

Using cannabis often while you are a teenager can make your body and mind need it more and make it hard to stop using. This is called dependence. Dependence typically happens when a drug is used repeatedly and your body adapts to having cannabis in your system.

If you are dependent you can experience unpleasant feelings called withdrawal symptoms when you reduce how much you use or stop using. Withdrawal symptoms can include feeling irritable or anxious, having an upset stomach, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite and sweating.

If you are concerned about your cannabis use or someone else’s use, there are places you can turn to for help.

Cannabis smoke can harm your lungs. 

Inhaling any kind of smoke can harm your lungs.

Burning cannabis and rolling papers produces smoke that has the same harmful chemicals and carcinogens as the smoke caused by burning cigarettes. These harmful chemicals are made by combustion (a fancy word for burning something) and not found in the cannabis plant.

Smoking cannabis often can lead to chronic bronchitis, which is a cough that doesn’t go away, lots of mucus and wheezing. Smoking cannabis can also lead to more infections in your lungs, like pneumonia.

Cannabis impairs your ability to drive safely. 

Cannabis impairs the skills everyone needs to drive safely, like judgement, quick response time, attention and coordination. Driving impaired could hurt you or other people on the roads. Nobody should use cannabis and drive.

If you are 21 and under, there is a zero tolerance law for impaired driving. Plan a safe ride with a sober friend, use OC transpo, Lyft, Uber, or a taxi. Never get in to the car with someone who is under the influence.


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Know where to go for help 

Using cannabis often while you are a teenager can make your body and mind need it more and make it hard to stop using. Check in with yourself regularly and ask yourself if cannabis is getting in the way of your life, school, work, sports or friendships in ways that do not feel good for you.

If you are concerned about yourself or someone else, there are places where you can turn to for help.


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