Contents provided by: Community Health Promotion Services (CHPS) Child & Adolescent Addiction, Mental Health & Psychiatry Program
Information on this page can be downloaded as a handout.
What is Cannabis?
- Cannabis is a plant
- Can be used in many forms
THC : Tetrahydrocannabinol is the main psychoactive chemical
CBD : Cannabidiol is another chemical that may have some medical benefits
- Chronic nerve pain, palliative care, nausea/vomiting form chemotherapy and spasticity from multiple sclerosis
- Do not need to feel high
- Do not help for anxiety, other nausea/vomiting or pain conditions
How is Cannabis used?
How does it make you feel?
- Time distortion
- Calm/relaxed feeling
- Increased appetite and heart rate
- Cognitive impairment
- You may say or do things you wouldn’t normally
- Increased senses
- Followed by depressant period
- May experience anxiety or paranoia
Who use Cannabis?
What are the health effect of Cannabis?
Effects on the Body
- Damage to lungs
- Second-hand smoke can be harmful
- Use while pregnant and breastfeeding can cause harm to the baby
Effects on the Brain
- Confusion, slower reaction time, anxiety, fear or panic
- Can affect memory, learning and attention
- Can affect ability to make decisions, personality and ability to achieve goals
For people under 25
- Brain is still developing
- Can have lasting impacts for life
- Can affect attention, judgment, decision making and ability to learn
- Changes the way one think, act and feel can have impacts on major life areas
- Can lead to poor performance in school and drop out
Effects – Mental Health
- Increased risk for mental illness, depression or anxiety
- If there is family history, avoid using
|Very Common (10-30%)||Common (1-10%)||Uncommon but serious (<1%)|
|Intensely happy or uneasy||Impaired memory||Intense vomiting|
|Sedation or relaxation||Confusion||Loss of motivation|
|Difficulty speaking||Blurred vision|
|Disconnected thoughts||Loss of touch with reality or self|
|Muscle twitching||Problematic use|
|Changes in heart rate|
|Changes in blood pressure|
- Can cause toxic effects
- If combined, the risk increases
- Signs of poisoning include:
- Change in heart rate
- Extreme nausea or vomiting
- Extreme confusion
- Panic attacks or paranoia
So why youth use substances?
- Fun seeking
- Peers – fitting in
- To look more mature
- To assert their independence
- To escape problems or fill gaps or cover feelings
- Lack of alternative coping skills
- Family or community norm
Talk to your child – early and openly about cannabis
What can we do?
- Stay connected
- Talk about it
- Be positive
- Focus on safety
- Be informed
- Be supportive
- Be an example
Keep the conversation going
- Connect and encourage
- Remind and repeat
- Share facts and resources
Reduce your Risk
- Start using later in life
- Choose low-strength product, lower THC or higher CBD
- Do not use synthetic cannabis
- Smoking is the most harmful way
- Avoid inhaling deeply
- Try to limit your use
Alberta Health Services Addiction Helpline
The Addiction and Mental Health Help Line is a 24 hour, 7 day a week confidential service that provides support, information and referrals to Albertans experiencing addiction and mental health concerns, including problem gambling.
Poison and Drug Information Service (PADIS)
Poison & Drug Information Service (PADIS) offers free and confidential telephone advice 24/7 to the public and health care professionals on poisons, chemicals, medicines, and herbal supplements.
Services may include:
– emergency advice about poisonings
– drug information for healthcare providers
– poison education and prevention
For more information visit the Poison & Drug Information Service
What to do when you call:
– Have the poison container with you when you call
– Be prepared to answer important questions
– Listen carefully to instructions
– Ask the Information Specialist to repeat anything you don’t understand
– Follow the Information Specialist’s advice
What to expect when you call:
– Information Specialists will want to know:
– what was swallowed
– how much was swallowed
– information from the container label
– if you’ve had anything to eat or drink since swallowing the poison
Kids Help Phone
Online and telephone counselling and support in English and French
More information / websites
– Drug safe website : trusted source for Albertans to find vital information on reducing the harm of alcohol and other drugs.
They have excellent resources on all the facts, resources to help parents to talk to their children, and even for youth to learn more.
– Government of Alberta resources on cannabis and laws
811 Health Link Alberta
Free, 24/7 Health information and advices by nurses over the phone.
Disclaimer: This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an “as is”, and “where is” basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied, or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability, or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials and for any claims, actions, demands, or suits arising from such use. Last updated August 2023.