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Curious about cannabis?

This information is meant to update you and help you make decisions that are right for you about cannabis.  As with many drugs, there are potential risks and benefits of using cannabis. It is important to know that cannabis has become stronger over the last 20 years or so. 

If you are thinking about using cannabis to help with a physical or mental health concern, speak to your health care provider to decide what’s best for you.

Some people may choose to use cannabis recreationally to:    

  • relax,
  • be more social,
  • improve their mood or feel more energetic,
  • increase focus or creativity,
  • increase appetite or arouse the senses.

Before you choose to use cannabis it is important to know the short-term and long-term health effects that may be experienced and ways to reduce risks.

Possible unwanted negative effects

  • Short-term effects on the brain can include: sleepiness, confusion, impaired memory, concentration and attention, anxiety, fear or panic and risk of mood disturbances or psychotic symptoms.
  • Short-term effects on the body can include: increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure (risk of fainting or passing out), increased risk of heart attack, and lung irritation.
  • Impairment, including impaired coordination, reaction time, attention, and decision-making can increase your risk of injury or death during activities like driving, biking or skiing.
    • Combining cannabis with tobacco or alcohol can increase impairment.
  • Long-term effects can include: dependence, increased risk of mental illness, decreased memory, concentration, intelligence, and ability to make decisions, lung damage (including bronchitis, infections, and chronic cough) and heart disease.

Top five ways to reduce cannabis risks

1. Choose safer products

2. Start low and go slow

    • Start with a small amount and wait to see what effect it has on you before trying more.
    • Be careful with edibles; it can take up to two hours to feel effects and it can produce a stronger high, so take care not to use too much.
    • Limit yourself to occasional use and avoid daily or near daily use which can lead to more risks and dependence.

    3. Avoid smoking or harmful smoking practices

    • Smoking cannabis is the most harmful way of using cannabis. Instead, consider vaping or edibles.
    • If you choose to smoke, avoid inhaling deeply and/or holding your breath.

    4. Plan for a safe ride

    • Driving impaired by cannabis is illegal and increases your risk of being in a crash. Also avoid being a passenger with an impaired driver.

    5. Protect others

    • Store you cannabis products safely out of reach of children, unknowing adults and pets.
    • Don’t smoke around children.
    • If cannabis is unintentionally consumed by a child call 911 or the Ontario Poison Control Centre 1-800-268-9017.
    For more detailed information about cannabis and cannabis laws 
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