cbd oil for anxiety teens

Is cannabis safe to use? Facts for youth aged 13–17 years

In order to protect youth from the health effects of cannabis use, the Cannabis Act restricts access to cannabis. Therefore, there will be no legal means for a young person to obtain cannabis, and possessing it may result in legal consequences, such as a fine or a ticket.

These are a few key facts that young people should be aware of:

  • The best way to protect your health is to not use cannabis. Footnote 1
  • You are more likely to experience harms from cannabis because your brain is still developing until around the age of 25. Footnote 2 The earlier you start using cannabis the more harm it can do Footnote 1 , Footnote 2Footnote 3 For example:
    • Starting to use cannabis as a teen and using it regularly (weekly or more frequently) and over a long time (several months or years) make you more likely to become addicted and to harm your mental health Footnote 1 , Footnote 3 .
    • Using cannabis can affect important aspects of your thinking, like learning and memory Footnote 1 , Footnote 4 Some of these harms may never fully go away. Footnote 1 , Footnote 5 , Footnote 6 , Footnote 7

    Supporting information

    For: Medical and public health professionals, parents, educators and other adult influencers

    What are the other names for cannabis?

    Cannabis is also called marijuana, weed, skunk, pot, herb, ganja, grass, Mary Jane, wax, shatter budder, dabs, and reefer.

    What do we know about cannabis use in youth?

    In Canada, about one in six (1/6) students in grades 7 to 12 (secondary I to V in Quebec) have reported using cannabis in 2014–2015. Footnote 30
    It is estimated that Canadian adolescents have among the highest rates of cannabis use compared to their peers in other developed countries. Footnote 31

    Why do youth use cannabis?

    Youth use cannabis for a number of reasons: Footnote 32

    • To improve or intensify mood: “It’s exciting.”
    • To be social: “It helps me enjoy a party.”
    • To cope with stress: “It helps me forget about my problems.”
    • To expand their views: “It helps me understand things differently.”
    • To fit in: “So I won’t feel left out.”
    • To break with routine: “I use it because I feel bored.”

    How does cannabis use affect the health of teens?

    Short term effects:
    • Impairs concentration and reaction time shortly after use. Cannabis diminishes concentration and attention, impairs coordination and slows reaction time. Footnote 23 Using cannabis and driving can result in a car accident and serious injuries or death. Footnote 22 , Footnote 23
    • Makes it harder to learn and remember things. Youth may have problems paying attention, remembering or learning things, and making decisions after using cannabis Footnote 4 .
    • Affects mood and feelings. Cannabis can make youth feel very anxious, panicked, sad, and fearful Footnote 4 .
    • Affects mental health. Cannabis can trigger a psychotic episode (not knowing what is real, experiencing paranoia, having disorganized thoughts, and in some cases having hallucinations), Footnote 4 .
    • Worsens mental health effects when higher potency products are used. Using higher-potency cannabis products (such as concentrates like “shatter”, dabs or wax) can worsen the mental health effects of cannabis use (such as paranoia and psychosis), Footnote 15 , Footnote 16 , Footnote 17 , Footnote 18 , Footnote 19 , Footnote 20 .
    Longer term effects
    i.e. regular use of cannabis (daily or almost daily) over a long time (several months or years):
    • Hurts the lungs and makes it hard to breathe. Cannabis smoke contains many of the same harmful substances as tobacco smoke. Footnote 33 Also, like smoking cigarettes, smoking cannabis can damage the lungs and result in a cough or wheezing and other breathing symptoms. Footnote 34
    • Affects mental health. Teens that start using cannabis early, use it regularly and continuously over time (“heavy” users) are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, psychosis, and schizophrenia. Footnote 3 , Footnote 19 , Footnote 35 Stopping use improves these symptoms. Footnote 36 , Footnote 37
    • May lead to addiction. Addiction to cannabis may have major negative impacts on everyday life and affect school, relationships with family and friends, sports, extra- curricular activities and volunteer work, Footnote 4 .

    For more information on the effects of cannabis on youth, you can read the following documents:

    Briefs available in this series


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