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Short-term effects

Cannabis has different effects on different people. The effects will vary depending on many factors including the type and amount of product used. 

For some people the effects of cannabis include feeling “high”, experiencing a sense of wellbeing, feeling happy, relaxed or sleepy, and experiencing a heightened sense of taste, smell, sound and/or touch. Others may become quiet and withdrawn or experience confusion, anxiety, panic attacks, fearfulness and paranoia and delusions.

Other immediate physical effects of cannabis may include red eyes, increased heart rate (can be dangerous for people with heart conditions), a drop in blood pressure (can cause people to faint), and light-headedness.

When using cannabis people may also experience changes to their perception of the time and the space around them. They may have difficulty with coordination, thinking, concentration, problem-solving and remembering things.

For more information, see Health Canada’s Health Effects of Cannabis

There are different methods for using cannabis. Different methods have unique timing and lengths of effect. Take this into account when planning a ride home and consider the timing of parenting responsibilities and work responsibilities.

There are four basic ways to use cannabis:

  • Inhalation (includes smoking, vaporizing, dabbing)

When inhaled, cannabis usually has an effect within seconds to minutes.  Full effects typically peak within 30 minutes, however, can last up to 6 hours after use, with some residual effects lasting up to 24 hours.

  • Ingestion (edibles, drinks, oils)

When eaten, cannabis products are absorbed by the stomach and liver. They take longer to have an effect (30 minutes to 2 hours). Full effects typically peak within 4 hours but can last for up to 12 hours after use, with some residual effects lasting up to 24 hours. 

  • Oral-mucosal (sublingual) 

A tincture or spray is put under the tongue or cheek of the mouth. They get into the blood stream through the lining of the mouth and can take 15 minutes to 2 hours to get absorbed. The effects may last for 2 to 6 hours, however, some residual effects that can last up to 24 hours.

  • Topicals

A balm, oil, rub, salve, or cream containing active cannabinoids that is put onto the skin and absorbed. They may provide localized relief of pain and inflammation, but more research is needed to support medical claims.

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