Is cannabis good for your health?
Now that it’s legal here in Canada, you may be wondering whether cannabis is good for your health or not.
You may have seen a bunch of hype already that it’s either a miracle cure or devastating to everyone.
Honestly, as with just about everything in health and wellness, there’s a bunch of BS out there. So, let’s cut through the BS and hop over to a bunch of credible hype-free sources of health information on cannabis.
Is cannabis good for your health?
TBH, we don’t know a whole heckuva lot about the health effects of cannabis. There have been a number of studies done (and a tonne of personal stories and opinions), but we don’t have amazingly good research to show long-term effects.
There are a few cannabis-based medications out there that have been tested, but when it comes to recreational use… not so much!
I’ve collected below some good information for you – but surely it’s going to be a lot easier to research from here on in. Stay tuned – I’ll update this page as I come across it. 🙂
Alcohol vs cannabis
I had the pleasure of interviewing an expert on the topic of substance use (alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and gambling) who works for a provincial health ministry here in Canada. He taught me a few things:
- Alcohol accounts for 20x the health harms of cannabis. Cancer is one of those risks increased by alcohol consumption.
- Alcohol is much more toxic to the brain than cannabis.
Always ask yourself this question before any substance use:
He gave me an awesome question to ask if we ever consider using any substance:
- “Is this substance use going to increase or decrease my connection to myself and others?“
In other words, when I use it will it cause me more isolation (i.e. is this action something I will hide from others or will I get bad tendencies or behaviours when I’m intoxicated)? Or will I relax a bit, stress less, and socialize more?Before using any substance ask yourself if it will increase or decrease your connection with yourself and with others. #alcohol #cannabis #addiction Click To Tweet
If you only have 10 minutes, watch this for a quick overview
This is everything you need to know about cannabis: Dr. Yoni Freedhoff answers health-related questions about cannabis now that it’s legal in Canada. This is from the show “The Social”.
(Sorry if it’s geo-blocked – It’s a major news site and you may not be able to access it outside of Canada – the other links below should work for you.)
How to speak to youth about cannabis
- How to speak to people aged 14-24 about cannabis.
Health risks of cannabis
There are some health risks associated with cannabis use. So, if you know them, you can reduce those risks and protect your health if you choose to use it.
Mental health, brain health, addiction
- Cannabis use can negatively affect mental health and can be addictive. Avoid it if you have a history of psychosis, or substance use/abuse (reference, page 10).
- Here is a detailed report on chronic use, cognitive function, and mental health.
- Cannabis use can affect attention, memory, learning, and ability to think and make decisions, particularly in people under the age of 25.
Fertility, pregnancy, breastfeeding
- Cannabis use may affect your ability to get pregnant, your menstrual cycle, or sperm count (reference).
- Strong caution is advised if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding because it can affect your child’s attention, memory, and learning, as well as birth weight, behaviour, and increase risk of future substance abuse.
Pre-existing heart conditions
- If you have heart or coronary issues, you should probably avoid cannabis (reference, page 10).
- Please DON’T FREAKING DRIVE HIGH!
And, yep, it happened on the very. first. day!
So … this happened early this morning: A Consume Cannabis in a Motor Vehicle ticket was issued. Just like alcohol, consuming cannabis is legal – and like alcohol, consuming it in your vehicle is **not**. #KnowYourRole pic.twitter.com/RR9AUBv4RN
— Winnipeg Police (@wpgpolice) October 17, 2018
Cannabis and your appetite (and weight)
- Cannabis-based medications are currently approved for use for nausea and vomiting in AIDS patient and those undergoing anti-cancer and anti-HIV chemotherapy (reference, page 5).
- Cannabis can promote overeating and weight gain.
Cannabis for pain
- Cannabis-based medications are currently approved for use in three types of pain:
- Neuropathic pain
- Pain and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis
- Severe pain due to advanced cancer
- (reference, page 5)
- Here’s my summary on marijuana’s use for pain from two years ago (based on review studies done between 2010-2015). #NerdAlert
Nerd out on the science of the effects of marijuana on your health
- Here’s an overview of the medical uses of cannabis.
- I wrote up a brief introduction to cannabinoids and your endocannabinoid system.
- Here’s a summary of some of the health effects of cannabis that I wrote up two years ago.
- Here is Examine.com’s pretty thorough review of the health research on marijuana (with 722 scientific references).
Provincial cannabis laws
Not everything is up to the federal government – there are still a lot of province-by-province differences that you might want to know about:
- Here is where you can find the laws regarding cannabis in your province.
- At that link you can find:
- The legal age to buy cannabis
- Where to legally buy cannabis
- The amount you’re allowed to possess
- An image of the “Excise stamp” to know what you are buying is legal
- A link to your province’s website for more information
Signing off and toasting: To more science-based health info on cannabis!
Over to you
I guess the big question to fellow Canadians is, “Now that it’s legal and you know the health effects (positive and negative), will you be using it?”
As for me, I’m going to say no. At least not while I don’t need it for medicinal purposes, and while my kids are still under the legal age. And I would also remember to ask myself that question: “Is this substance use going to increase or decrease my connection to myself and others?”
Do you have another amazingly credible source of cannabis health info? Post the link in the comments below!
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I'm Leesa Klich, MSc., R.H.N.
Health writer – Blogging expert – Research nerd.
I help health and wellness professionals build their authority with scientific health content. They want to stand out in the crowded, often unqualified, market of entrepreneurs. I help them establish trust with their audiences, add credibility to their services, and save them a ton of time so they don’t have to do the research or writing themselves. To work with me, click here.