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Cannabis Use and Health

  • What are the main short-term effects of cannabis use

    Cannabis affects the body's natural endocannabinoid system. The brain naturally produced compounds to affect mood, sleep, memory, appetite and more, though cannabis exaggerates these effects.

    • Effects on balance, coordination, and reaction time:
      • Clumsiness and slow reaction time
      • Walking may become more difficult
      • Driving becomes very dangerous
    • Effects on heart and lungs:
      • Faster heart beat
      • More blood flow to the brain
      • Change in blood pressure
      • May be dangerous to those with a heart condition
    • Effects on other parts of the body:
      • Cananbis may cause erectile dysfunction
  • What are the side effects of cannabis use?

    Common short-term side effects of cannabis use are:

    • Red eyes and large pupils
    • Dry mouth and increased hunger
    • Forgetfulness
    • Lack of focus, or extreme focus
    • Altered sense of time
    • Shallow breathing
    • Sleepiness
    • Dizziness
    • Sensitivity to sounds
    • Paranoia, anxiety, or depression
  • What if I consume too much cannabis?

    While no adult death has been confirmed to be caused directly by cannabis poisoning, risky behavior while high has resulted in death. Additionally, there is some evidence suggesting cannabis poisoning may be deadly to children. 

    For adults, if you think you may have used too much cannabis, the best thing to do is relax and wait in a safe place for the drug to leave your body. If your discomfort becomes so intense that you think you need medical attention, ask someone to take you to the emergency room or dial 9-1-1. Do not try to drive yourself.

    If you think a child is suffering from cannabis poisoning, take them immediately to the nearest emergency room or dial 9-1-1.

  • What are the long term effects of cannabis use?

    Many studies suggest that using cannabis frequently and in high doses could have long-term health consequences. Since brains develop through 25 years of age, the younger a person is, the more likely they are to see negative health outcomes from cannabis use.

    Some possible long-term effects of cannabis include:

    • Negative effect on working memory
    • Slow growth of sections of the brain
    • Being high can affect short-term attention and concentration, which could lower academic achievement over time.
    • Since the chemical in the brain responsible for happiness is triggered, it could cause or worsen symptoms of depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, psychosis, or schizophrenia.
    • For the same reason, it could cause psychological addition or physical withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, irritability, sleeplessness, and poor appetite (however, it does not cause chemical dependence).
    • The smoke (including secondhand smoke) has many of the same harmful chemicals and compounds in it as tobacco smoke. Long term cannabis use has been linked to lung disease, lung cancer, and respiratory problems, like chronic bronchitis.
    • Long term use could decrease male fertility.

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  • What is Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome?

    Frequent cannabis users may experience something called Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome. While this condition is still being researched, there are some things we know for sure:

    • Symptoms include repeated nausea, vomiting, and abdominal (stomach) pain
    • Sufferers find relief by taking frequent, hot baths or showers

    If you think you may be suffering from this syndrome, you should contact a doctor and inform them of your cannabis use.

  • What should I know about cannabis potency?

    The concentration of compounds in cannabis has changed a lot in recent years; since 1995, CBD concentration has generally decreased and THC has increased by 6-7 times in some samples. Few studies have been done with cannabis matching this new chemical profile.

  • What about contaminated cannabis?

    While stricter regulations are being developed and implemented, cannabis can be contaminated with molds or pests, or the chemicals used to treat them; one study found that 93% of samples were contaminated. Concentration of these contaminants could have a negative effect on health.

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  • Is cannabis safe to use?

    While it's easy to get excited about fewer restrictions on cannabis, it's important to consider how little is known about its long-term impacts on health. Because of how cannabis is classified by the federal government, long-term scientific studies have been very difficult to complete.

    While abstaining from use is the safest choice, to reduce health risks from using cannabis:

    • Wait until your body and brain are done developing - around 25 years of age
    • Consume it less frequently, and in lower concentration
    • Obtain it from a reputable source or licensed dispensary, where it has been lab tested for contaminants and potency
    • Avoid inhalation methods of consumption, such as smoking or vaping
    • Do not drive while under the influence of cannabis
  • What about synthetic cannabis?

    Synthetic cannabis, also known as K2 or Spice is a compound that is man-made to immitate THC. It is not legal and is very dangerous. It has been shown to have significant health consequences including death, even when used infrequently in small quantities.