Cannabis, also known as marijuana, pot or weed, is a mood-altering substance that is tobacco-like greenish or brownish material consisting of the dried flowers, fruiting tops and leaves of the cannabis plant, cannabis sativa.

Hashish or cannabis resin is the dried brown or black resinous secretion of the flowering tops of the cannabis plant and can be further processed to produce hash oil, wax or shatter. (Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, 2018)

Health Canada states the short-term effects of cannabis use include, but are not limited to:

  • Feelings of euphoria or being high and relaxed.
  • Impairment of the ability to drive safely since cannabis affects your perception, distorts reaction time and affects your attention span and coordination.
  • Feelings of panic and anxiety.
  • Psychotic episodes may be triggered whereby the individual may not know what it real, feel paranoid and/or experience hallucinations (Health Canada, 2018).
  • Increased heart rate
  • A small but growing number of cases have been reported of myocardial infarction which often leads to a heart attack occurring in men, even young men, who smoked cannabis recreationally. (Franz & Frishman, 2016)

According to Health Canada, using cannabis regularly (daily or almost daily) and over a long time (several months or years) can:

  • Damage your lungs making it harder to breathe.
  • Increase your risk of experiencing depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment, schizophrenia or psychosis.
  • Lead to addiction, which is increased for people who started using frequently in adolescence.
  • It is estimated that nine per cent of those who use cannabis in their lifetime will become addicted.
  • This rate increases to 16 per cent for those who start using cannabis during adolescence.
  • Cannabis withdrawal symptoms can occur when someone who is addicted stops or greatly reduces their consumption.  Withdrawal symptoms include: insomnia or difficulty sleeping, anxiety, nausea, tremors, and chills.
  • Lead to cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome which includes recurrent episodes of nausea, vomiting and stomach pain (Beech, Sterret, Babluk, & Fung 2015; Alaniz, Liss, Metx, & Stickrath 2015)

More information and resources:

Government of Canada Online Portal, Cannabis In Canada: Get the Facts. An online portal where the public can find answers to their cannabis-related questions. This includes the health effects, both long and short term, effects on youth, addiction, and impairment.

Cannabis in Newfoundland and Labrador: Your Cannabis Questions Answered, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Have cannabis questions? This site provides the relevant answers.

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Last updated: 2019-08-07