Cannabis (Marijuana)

The scientific name “cannabis” is the preferred term rather than the common name “marijuana”, which is often associated with racial discrimination and injustice.

Using cannabis (Health Canada) distorts perception and impairs coordination, putting the user at risk for injuries.

Using cannabis can damage the lungs, increase heart rate, lower blood pressure, and change the way the brain works, putting the user at risk for chronic disease and mental health concerns.

What is cannabis?

Cannabis goes by many names (for example, weed, dope, pot, and MJ). It comes from the dried tops (buds) of the cannabis plant. THC (delt-9-tetrahydro-cannabinol) is the active drug. Cannabis can be rolled into a joint and is sometimes mixed with tobacco to be smoked. It can also be used in a pipe, a bong (water pipe) or vaporizer. THC can also be extracted from the plant to make hash oil.

Who is using cannabis?

More than half (52.3%) of people aged 19+ living in the Sudbury & District Health Unit service area have tried cannabis at some point in their lifetime. However, 13% admit to currently using cannabis. Comparatively 50% of people in Northern Ontario and 41% of Ontarians report having tried cannabis and 11% of people in Northern Ontario and 10.6% admit to currently using cannabis (Source: Canadian Community Health Survey 2009-2012, Statistics Canada, Share File, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care).

What are the effects of cannabis use?

For some people, when they use cannabis for the first time, they feel little or no effect. Often it is with repeated use that people will feel the effects. These effects can be different for users depending on their experience with cannabis, whether it is smoked or swallowed, the mood of the person using, and if it is used in combination with other drugs. When cannabis is smoked the effects can begin immediately and last for several hours. If cannabis is ingested the effects begin after about an hour but will last longer. THC is stored in the fat cells and will be released from the body over a period of days or weeks, which is why drug tests for cannabis can be positive for weeks after the effects of the drug have worn off.

Some people will feel relaxed, talkative or even ‘giggly’ when they use cannabis. Other times a person may feel tense, anxious or confused.

Cannabis use can alter a person’s perception of time, distance and space. It will impair judgement, decrease concentration and coordination.  Red eyes, dry mouth, sleepiness and increased appetite, also known as the ‘munchies’ can result from marijuana use.

What are the risks of cannabis use?

Are you concerned about your use or someone else’s cannabis use?

This item was last modified on October 5, 2018