Frequently Asked Questions About Cannabis
A bit of context
Recreational cannabis is legal in Canada as of October 17th, 2018 under the new Cannabis Act. Despite being a Federal Law, it allows provinces to set some restrictions on their territories regarding cannabis use. These restrictions can range from the minimal age of consumption to the authorization or prohibition of cannabis use in public. Since the regulations in place may differ from one province to another, make sure to know which ones apply to you.
Canada is the second country in the world to legalize recreational cannabis. But with legalization comes a lot of questions, many of which can be related to your health and safety. Fortunately, your pharmacist is well equipped to respond to this new reality and answer your questions.
1. What are the effects of using cannabis?
Common short-term effects include:
- Euphoria (high)
- Heightened senses (sight, taste, smell, sound)
- Impaired ability to remember, concentrate, and react quickly
In adults, the effects of cannabis can last up to 2-4 hours when inhaled, and 4-6 hours when ingested. In children, the effect can last up to 6-12 hours when ingested. In some cases, effects can last up to 24 hours in adults and children. Cannabis use is generally not recommended for those under 25 years of age.
Common long-term effects include:
- Negative effects on your memory, concentration and intelligence (IQ)
- Impaired ability to think and make decisions
- Risk of addiction, especially in teenagers
For a more detailed list of the health effects of cannabis, click here.
There have been no deaths attributed to cannabis overdose, as it is close to impossible to ingest a lethal dose. However, consuming a large amount is not recommended.
2. What’s the difference between smoking cannabis and eating/drinking foods containing cannabis?
The chemicals in cannabis are absorbed differently depending on how it is consumed. When smoked or inhaled, cannabis’ effects appear faster, but are shorter in duration. When ingested, the effects last longer and are much stronger.
3. Should I be aware of any precautions when using cannabis?
Family planning, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Cannabis should not be used if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as the chemicals in cannabis can pass through the mother’s blood to the fetus and into breast milk. This has the potential to cause developmental effects in the baby, being exposed at such a young age. In men, some studies have shown that chronic, long-term cannabis use can decrease sperm count and motility.
Just like drinking and driving, drug-impaired driving is against the law due to the sedating, psychoactive and physiological effects of cannabis. Penalties can range from fines, suspension of a driving license to a criminal record.
Travellers that stay within Canadian borders can carry up to 30 grams of cannabis with them, for personal use. The same applies to passengers aboard Canadian domestic flights. Do not carry cannabis with you if you are planning to go abroad as it is not permitted to transport cannabis across international borders.
Whether medical or recreational, cannabis could have effects on your health and medical conditions. Discuss with your health care provider to better understand the impact of cannabis on your health and get an unbiased opinion.
4. Does cannabis interact with other substances?
Cannabis and alcohol use have some similar effects. If taken at the same time, their effect can combine, be stronger, last longer and could lead to potential accidents. If drinking responsibly is important when consuming alcohol, it is strongly not recommended to combine the two substances.
Cannabis can interact with many drugs, over-the-counter medicine and natural products. Talk to your pharmacist today to review your medication for potential interactions.
While you may still have many questions regarding cannabis, information and resources are out there to support you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your health care team, including your pharmacist, to know more on the topic.
The information contained in this article is based on the research and studies available at the time of its publication (October 17th, 2018).
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.