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Before you buy: know the risks

Remember that every form of cannabis use poses risks to your health. The only way to completely avoid these risks is by choosing not to use cannabis.

Know the risks

Cannabis contains hundreds of chemicals. The two with the most known effects on your brain and body are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is responsible for intoxication (also known as “the high”). Unlike THC, CBD does not produce a high or intoxication and may counteract the effects of THC.

If you are over 19 and under age 25

Your brain continues to develop until around age 25. Emerging evidence suggests that THC in cannabis may affect your brain development. Early cannabis use increases the risk of affecting the developing brain and so initiating cannabis use later in life may help to lower these risks. More frequent and heavy consumption can increase the risk of negative effects on your physical and mental well-being, even beyond the age of 25.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding

THC and CBD can be passed to a fetus or newborn through blood or breast milk. Cannabis use during pregnancy has been linked to lower birth weights and developmental effects in newborns. Since there is no known safe amount of cannabis to use during pregnancy or breastfeeding, the safest approach is to not use cannabis.

If you have children at home

Emerging evidence suggests that minors and pets are especially vulnerable to the effects of cannabis. In order to protect them from accidental poisoning, securely store cannabis products so that they can’t be accessed by minors and pets. Begin talking to minors about cannabis at a young age. Early use may cause irreversible harm, including mental health and education problems. It may also increase the risk of injuries, psychosis, schizophrenia, or substance use problems.

If you drink alcohol

Alcohol and cannabis taken together can multiply the effects of intoxication, increasing your risk of injury or harm. Avoid combining alcohol and cannabis, especially in safety-sensitive situations.

If you drive

The THC in cannabis can affect your reaction time, decision-making skills, and ability to judge distances. Drug-affected driving is illegal in BC. As with alcohol, please plan a safe ride home before using cannabis products.

Start low, go slow

Always use cannabis in a safe place with people you trust. Use a small amount of low THC product to start, and choose products with higher levels of CBD.

When smoking* or vaporizing cannabis, you might feel effects within seconds to minutes, and these effects might last up to six hours.**

When ingesting cannabis in oil or capsules, you might feel effects within 30 minutes to two hours, and these effects might last up to 12 hours.**

Remember, what works for others may not work for you. Educating yourself and cautious experimentation will help you find your way.


Myth buster

It is a myth that cannabis use cannot result in disorders. Continued, frequent use can lead to physical dependency and cannabis use disorder. You may be at a higher risk if you have a family history of mental illness or other types of mental disorders. If you or someone you know is worried about cannabis use, consult your doctor.


* Smoking cannabis is not recommended. Smoking cannabis may increase the risk of developing respiratory infections or chronic cough. Do not smoke or vaporize cannabis in the presence of children.

** Some effects could last as long as 24 hours


For cannabis resources, please visit Health Canada.
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