Limited studies show that cannabis can reduce nausea in those receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer and help relieve pain. However, just because non-medical cannabis is legal, doesn’t mean there aren’t health risks associated with it. It's important to think about how to decrease the risks, and how using cannabis can affect your day-to-day life, well-being, and long-term health.
According to the 2017 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey:
Cannabis is one of the most widely used substance in Canada with close to half of all Canadians aged 15 or older reporting having tried it
Canadian youth aged 15–19, have the second highest rate of cannabis use in the world.
14.8% of Canadians over the of age 15 had used it in the past year, and 18% had used it in the past 3 months. In 2019, 6.1% of Canadians 15 and older reported using it daily.
23.4% of people in BC reported using cannabis in the past year, which is far above the estimates for the rest of Canada
Those aged 15–24 tended to use it the most (about 19% aged 15–19 and 33% aged 20–24).
34.8% of Canadians aged 18-24 said they used it in the past three months.
About 12.5%% of people aged 18-24 said they used it every day.
12.7% of people 25 and older said they used it in the past year.
Studies show that using cannabis under age 25 can affect how the brain develops. The damage can affect the person for the rest of their lives. Using under age 25 can affect memory, learning, attention, judgement, and decision-making—never mind how it affects the rest of the body.
How much cannabis, how often, and how you use it will affect how much and how long it can affect your health:
- Lungs – Vaping cannabis can damage the lungs. Second-hand cannabis vape is at least as harmful—or more harmful —than tobacco vape.
- Goals and performance – It can have a negative effect on how you do at work, school, and on your hobbies and activities. This is especially true for teens and young adults. Younger users have higher rates of being suspended, skip more school, and drop out more.
- Memory and learning – It can affect your memory, learning, and attention.
- Judgment and decision-making – It affects judgment and can lead to risky behaviour and poor decision making.
- Mental Health – In some, especially teens and young adults, using cannabis often can increase the risk for mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and psychosis.
- Dependency – Some studies show that early, regular use may be associated with a higher risk of addiction.
- Other health risks – It can affect both the unborn and newborn baby. Toxins to cannabis pass to the unborn baby, and then in the breast milk after birth.
According to the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health " the safest approach for people who use cannabis is to avoid smoking or vaping cannabis extracts."
- Teens and young adults have a higher risk of becoming addicted to nicotine.
- Stopping vaping may be harder for people who mix nicotine with cannabis because the combination may make nicotine withdrawal stronger.
- People who vape cannabis and nicotine together have more breathing problems than those who use only nicotine vape because of the increased exposure to harmful chemicals, including vitamin E acetate.
- There can be more problems with memory and learning.
The lung problems related to vaping weed is called E-cigarette/Vape Associated Lung Injury. EVALI for short. The CDC in the US has confirmed that EVALI is happening to people using vape products. Most have used THC with the thickening agent vitamin E acetate.
The Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health don't recommend vaping cannabis but they have come up with a few things to do to reduce the harm of vaping cannabis extract:
- Obtain your cannabis extract from legal sources
- Limit the amount and frequency of use of cannabis extract
- Always read the label so you understand the strength of the extract
- Avoid inhaling deeply and breath-holding
- Avoid drinking alcohol and using other substances when vaping weed