With the legalization of cannabis the Northwestern Health Unit wants the public to know there are some risks. Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kit Young-Hoon talked about the health impact.

"Cannabis can be addictive. The estimated likelihood of addiction is about 9 per cent for cannabis. For other substances, such as alcohol and tobacco, the harms on your body and the harms to the population are much greater then cannabis. However, one needs to be aware that cannabis can also have negative health impacts on your body," she said.

She explained some of the health risks cannabis may pose.

"Cannabis, even though it's being legalized, has a number of negative health impacts on the body. One of the main concerns is the negative impact on brain development. This particularly applies to those who smoke cannabis daily or almost daily, or smoking it while the brain is still developing," she explained.

She said those most likely to have their brain development affected by cannabis are adolescents and young adults.

Cannabis is most often smoked, and that can have an impact on the lungs.

"Smoking cannabis can in fact have a negative impact on the lungs, similar to commercial tobacco. You can have symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, and it can exasperate asthma," she said.

To summarize, how cannabis affects you depends on:

how much you use
the potency of the product
the relative amount of THC and CBD in the product
how often and how long you’ve used it
how it was consumed (ie: whether you smoke, vape or eat it)
your age
whether you have certain pre-existing medical or mental health conditions
whether you’ve taken any alcohol or other drugs (illegal, prescription, over-the-counter or herbal)

People can have very different experiences with cannabis. Some may feel relaxed, lively, talkative and even euphoric, while others feel tense, sleepy, anxious, fearful and/or confused.

Cannabis can be harmful to your mental and physical health, especially if you use:

At an early age
Often, such as every day or almost every day
A large amount
With other drugs, like tobacco or alcohol
Higher THC level products
Combining alcohol, prescription drugs, or other illegal drugs with cannabis can produce unknown and dangerous reactions.

Cannabis use can affect your health in short and long-term ways. While there are some limitations to what we know, there are some well-documented risks associated with cannabis use, including:

cognitive, psychomotor and memory impairments
hallucinations and impaired perception
impaired driving and injuries (including fatalities)
mental health problems (including psychosis)
dependence
pulmonary/bronchial problems

There are also specific health risks associated with cannabis use in pregnancy and while breastfeeding, and also when young people use cannabis.

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