Is cannabis addictive?
People can become addicted to cannabis. About 1 in 6 teenagers and 1 in 11 adults who use cannabis will develop an addiction.
Regular, often (daily) and heavy cannabis use can lead to a Cannabis Use Disorder, physical dependency, and addiction. The THC in cannabis causes an increase in levels of dopamine, the pleasure chemical in the brain, which can motivate people to keep using it. When you stop using cannabis, you can also get withdrawal symptoms that make you use it again for relief, such as:
- trouble sleeping,
- dysphoria – state of generalized unhappiness, restlessness, dissatisfaction, or frustration,
- depression or anxiety,
- cravings, or
- changes in appetite and weight loss.
Can you overdose on cannabis?
While overdose of cannabis does not happen in the same way as things like opioids, there is still a risk of consuming too much and having a bad reaction such as high levels of anxiety, fear or panic, and psychotic episodes of paranoia, delusions or hallucinations. Hyperemesis syndrome may also occur, where consuming cannabis triggers uncontrollable vomiting.
Overdose or poisoning from other substances: When cannabis is purchased from an unregulated supplier (i.e., off the street or black market), you have no guarantee of what you are getting and the cannabis could contain other substances such as opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA, LSD, or household chemicals.
For the reasons above, you should always “start low and go slow” with your cannabis consumption, and always purchase from a licensed retailer.
Overdose in children: If cannabis is stored in areas that can be accessed by children, the possibility of them either intentionally or unintentionally consuming the product is increased. Similar to alcohol, it is important that products that can cause impairment, overdose, or poisoning are stored out of reach from children.
If you or someone else is having a bad reaction to cannabis, or a child ingests cannabis, call the Ontario Poison Centre (1-800-268-9017) or 911 immediately.
Is cannabis safer than tobacco?
Cannabis smoke has many similar carcinogens, toxins, and irritants that are found in tobacco smoke and known to cause cancer, heart disease and respiratory diseases like bronchitis.
Cannabis is not harmless just because it’s more “natural”. Any substance, whether it’s tobacco, alcohol, or cannabis, will have effects on your mental and physical health, so it’s important to know what those are.
What are the harms of second-hand cannabis smoke?
Although the risks from exposure to second-hand cannabis smoke are still being studied, cannabis smoke has many similar carcinogens, toxins, and irritants that are found in tobacco smoke and known to cause cancer, heart disease and respiratory diseases like bronchitis. For this reason, exposure to cannabis smoke should be avoided. Cannabis should not be smoked indoors and should be kept away from children.
Are there certain activities I should avoid while using cannabis?
Do NOT use cannabis while:
- driving or operating heavy or hazardous machinery,
- being a caretaker for children,
- during situations where you need to make important decisions, or
- doing any other activity that requires full concentration and ability to react quickly (e.g., driving).
Should I avoid cannabis use if I have a personal or family history of mental illness or substance use disorder?
Individuals with a personal or family history of mental illness (depression, anxiety, schizophrenia), or problems with drug use should avoid cannabis because these conditions can be brought on or made worse with cannabis use.
What is the harm of using cannabis with alcohol or tobacco?
Mixing alcohol with cannabis increases the level of impairment you have, increasing your risk of harm.
Smoking tobacco and cannabis together (e.g. adding tobacco to cannabis joints) may increase your risk of lung or other cancers and addiction.