What's With Weed?
Are you a young person in Canada?
Looking to learn more about cannabis?
You’ve come to the right place.
What is cannabis?
Cannabis is the scientific name for a family of plants commonly known as marijuana, pot or weed.
There are many reasons why people might use cannabis. Like caffeine, prescription drugs, and alcohol, cannabis use can be both beneficial and harmful.
Some people use cannabis for its therapeutic effects, such as relief from pain or nausea.
TAKE A GUESS: Which age group reported the highest percentage of recent cannabis use?
Hover over/click each box to find out!
Source: Stats Can, Prevalence of cannabis use in the past three months, self-reported (2020).
How can it affect my health?
The risks of cannabis use are higher for people who start using at a young age, and people who use often (daily or near daily) over a long period of time (several months or years).
Here are a few potential impacts to your health:
Can slow you down, making it harder to learn and remember things
Affects mood and emotions
Can make you feel hungry and/or thirsty
Can trigger a psychotic episode (not knowing what is real, feeling paranoid, and, in some cases, having hallucinations)
Hurts the lungs and makes it hard to breathe
Early and frequent use over a long period of time can contribute to anxiety, depression, psychosis, and/or schizophrenia
May lead to addiction
THE NUMBER TO KEEP IN MIND?
Cannabis is riskier to use if you're under 25 because your brain is still developing until around that age.
How can I use more safely?
If you do use cannabis, there are many ways to reduce the risks to your mental and physical health:
Try to delay when you start using cannabis, especially if you’re under 16.
If you do smoke, use safer smoking practices, and avoid deep inhalation or breath-holding.
Avoid using if you or family members have a history of psychosis or substance use, or if you’re pregnant.
Remember that occasional use, such as one day per week or less, is safer than regular use.
Choose low-strength products– those with low THC and/or high CBD content.
Have a plan for transportation before using cannabis, and wait at least 6 hours before driving.
Use products derived from the cannabis plant, rather than synthetic cannabis (AKA "K2" or "Spice").
Your actions add up. The more risks you take, the more likely you are to harm your health.
Use cannabis in ways that don’t involve smoking – choose less risky ways of using like vaping or edibles.
Not using cannabis at all is still the best way to protect your health.
What do I need to know about cannabis legalization?
Cannabis was legalized in Canada in October 2018, but it is still illegal for young people under a certain age to purchase, use, and sell weed.
In fact, some fines and penalties have increased since legalization. Check out this interactive map to learn about the laws in your province or territory.
What about the history and social impacts of cannabis?
Similar to how its physical and mental impacts can vary widely from person to person, the social impacts of cannabis differ based on a person's race, income, and more.
Cannabis has a complicated history - check out our timeline of cannabis in Canada to learn more. tl;dr? Cannabis, like many drugs, is political.
Keep in mind how things like culture, the political landscape, and identity may shape people's relationships to cannabis.
VIDEO: What is the Drug War? With Jay-Z and Molly Crabapple
Watch the video below to see how drug policies disproportionately target racialized and low-income communities.
Our free certificate programs:
Cannabis and Youth: A Certificate for Youth Workers
Want to dive deeper on cannabis?
Cannabis and Youth, a free online certificate, provides you with the knowledge and the tools you need to support informed decision-making, and to educate and increase awareness among other young people.
BONUS: you get a LinkedIn badge + certificate once you've completed all the modules!
Cannabis and Mental Health
Want to explore the connections between cannabis and mental health?
Cannabis and Mental Health is a free online certificate created by youth for youth. Learn about the effects of cannabis on your wellbeing and the impacts of policy and legalization, and hear from youth with lived experience.
BONUS: you get a LinkedIn badge + certificate once you’ve completed all the modules!
Looking for more info on cannabis? We've got your back!
Check out our What's With Weed Featured Collection, on our Knowledge Hub, with over 40 free resources to learn more about cannabis!