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Curious about cannabis

Cannabis is stronger than it used to be. THC, the part of cannabis that causes impairment, has tripled in strength over the last 20-30 years.

Before you choose to use cannabis it is important to know:

  • How cannabis may affect you;
  • How long the effects may last; and
  • Ways to reduce the risks if you use cannabis.

Some people may choose to use cannabis recreationally to relax, be more social, improve their mood; feel more energetic, increase their focus or creativity, increase their appetite or arouse their senses.  Some people consider taking cannabis for a medical reason (mental and/or physical) without a prescription. If you are, consult with a health care provider (doctor, nurse practitioner or pharmacist) to determine the best treatment options for you.

Cannabis is legal, not harmless. Avoid using cannabis if:

  • you are taking prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs and/or herbal products and it may cause a drug interaction (check with a pharmacist);
  • you have a personal or family history of mental health or substance use problems;
  • you are thinking about becoming pregnant, pregnant, or breastfeeding;
  • you are under 19.

After using cannabis, you may experience:

  • feeling high
  • a sense of well-being
  • relaxation/sleepiness,
  • a heightened sense of taste, smell, sound or touch
  • increased heart rate (can be dangerous for people with heart conditions)
  • decreased blood pressure (can cause feeling of light-headedness, fainting)
  • confusion, anxiety, fear or panic
  • changes in your perception of time and space (including an impaired ability to judge distance and space)
  • impaired thinking, problem solving/decision-making and memory
  • impaired coordination, concentration, attention and reaction time

Combining cannabis with tobacco, alcohol or other drugs can increase impairment. Impairment can increase your risk of falls, injuries, death.

It is important to know that any method can have longer effects than expected and can have residual effects for up to 24 hours for some people. Effects depend on:

  • the person (age, genetic makeup, history/experience with cannabis, existing mental health conditions;
  • the content of the product (how much THC, CBD);
  • the amount of the product (you are more likely to experience unpleasant, negative or harmful effects if you use too much even if you choose a lower-potency product (lower THC, higher CBD)); and
  • the way the product is used (inhalation, ingestion, tincture/spray, or topical).
effects chart

Choose safer products

  • Choose legal products.
  • Choose products that have lower THC content and/or a higher amount of CBD.

 

Use in safer ways

  • Start with a small amount and wait to see how it affects you before trying more.
  • Avoid smoking; if you do smoke, avoid inhaling deeply and/or holding your breath.
  • Be careful with edibles; it can take a lot longer to feel the effects and they can be stronger. Start with a very small amount and wait four hours before taking any more. Having more within this time could result in adverse effects that require medical attention.

 

Not too often

  • Limit yourself to occasional use and avoid daily or near daily use which can lead to more risks and dependence.

 

Plan for a safe ride

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

 

Protect others

  • Store cannabis products safely out of reach of children, unknowing adults and pets.
  • Don’t smoke around children.
  • If cannabis is unintentionally consumed call 911 or the Ontario Poison Control Centre 1-800-268-9017.

For more detailed information about cannabis, its effects and cannabis laws check out our other cannabis pages. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Health Connection.

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