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Health Effects

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Know the effects

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For additional information visit Alberta Health Services:

Drug Safe

Know the Effects

+  Inhaling Cannabis

Health effects

  • Smoking or vaping cannabis can damage your lungs. Cannabis smoke contains tar and toxins similar to tobacco smoke. Cannabis vapour can contain toxins that damage lungs.
  • Avoid inhaling deeply or holding your breath to reduce the risk of lung damage. 
  • Second-hand cannabis smoke or vapour is harmful, especially around children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • The higher the THC potency in a product, the higher the risk of experiencing adverse health effects. High potency THC products can increase the risk of serious and long-term problems, such as injuries and dependence.
  • The long-term health effects of vaping remain unknown. Vaping THC and/or nicotine has been associated with severe breathing problems requiring hospitalization. Deaths have occurred in some cases.
  • If you do not currently smoke or vape cannabis then you should not start.
  • People who have never smoked or vaped before should consider other forms of cannabis instead of inhaling to avoid the risks associated with smoking and vaping.

+  Ingesting Cannabis

Health effects

  • If you have a pre-existing health condition, speak to your health care provider before use.
  • Negative side effects can happen if you consume too much. 
  • Delay using cannabis until later in life as the brain is still developing until about age 25.
  • Overconsumption of cannabis can lead to the following symptoms: 
    • Increased breathing rate
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Anxiety or paranoia
    • Psychosis, in extreme cases

Cannabis Facts Icon cannabis illustrated off white 2

Should you mix cannabis and alcohol? 

No. The two substances can worsen the effects of the other and affect your body’s ability to deal with a potential overdose. 

Cannabis use can impact brain development for people under 25.

  • Science has proven that your brain is still developing until about age 25. Why risk consuming unnecessary chemicals, like THC, when it could affect your development?
  • The earlier in life you use start using cannabis, the higher the risk for addiction and health-related harms.  
  • Research shows that attention, judgment, decision-making and your ability to learn can be affected by how early, how much and how often you use cannabis. 
  • Avoiding cannabis until your brain has developed just makes sense. 

But hey, if you don’t believe us, see what the experts have to say at AHS, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine or this video from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction. 

Long-Term use

Long-term, frequent cannabis use can cause recurring episodes of severe nausea and vomiting known as Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome
 

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Mental health & cannabis

Frequent cannabis use may increase the risk for mental health problems like depression, anxiety and psychosis. If you have a history of mental health problems or substance use disorder, do not use cannabis.

High Potency THC

Cannabis extracts, also called concentrates, have higher levels of THC, meaning they are more potent than traditional dried cannabis. Concentrates come in many forms and can include shatter, rosin and hash.

Research shows that regular use of products with a high THC potency can increase your chance of experiencing negative effects.  
 

These effects may include: 

  • over consumption or “greening out”, which can lead to vomiting and dizziness
  • poor mental health outcomes, especially if there is a family history of mental illness
  • increased chances of addiction, which is medically referenced as “Cannabis Use Disorder” 
  • confusion, anxiety or paranoia

If you’re still not convinced, find out more at AHS or read the series Clearing the smoke on cannabis by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction.

Cannabis Facts Icon cannabis illustrated off white 2

Taking too much cannabis too fast can lead to overconsumption, sometimes referred to as “greening out”.

Symptoms may include:
• increased breathing rate
• nausea and vomiting
• anxiety or paranoia
• psychosis, in extreme cases