use of cannabis is
Your health: harm
reduction and health effects
Common-sense tips can reduce cannabis risk
Mental health problems, testicularcancer, low birthweight babies. Theseare just some of the health risks linked tocannabis use. Even inhaling second-handcannabis smoke poses risk.
In 2017, the University of Calgary’sHealth Technology Assessment Unitat the Cumming School of Medicinereleased the findings of a survey of 64reviews on health effects and harmsrelated to cannabis.
All but three reviews associated harmwith cannabis use, says Fiona Clement,HTA’s director. “One of biggest concernswas cannabis use during pregnancy.”The survey found using cannabis whenpregnant was linked to low birthweightbabies, birth complications, lungproblems and changes to how thebrain works.
Clement says researchers also notedconcerns with the interaction betweencannabis use and mental health. Risksinclude psychosis, mania, and relapse ofpsychosis or schizophrenia. It is unclearwhether cannabis causes these conditionsor just speeds up their onset, she says.
The report also found possible linksto bladder, prostate, penile, cervical andchildhood cancers, brain changes, boneloss, atrial fibrillation, suicide, depressionand anxiety.
“People will make their own choices,”
says Clement. Being fully informed
about the risks will help them to “make
more responsible choices.”
Although non-medical use of cannabis
may never be completely safe, Albertans
who choose to use it can reduce their risk
by following these suggestions:
•;Limit cannabis use to weekends
or one day a week. Be aware of
the strength—the amount of THC
(tetrahydrocannabinol), the chief
intoxicant found in cannabis. The lower
the THC content, the lower the risk.
•;Avoid using artificial cannabinoidssuch as K2 and Spice. They mimic theeffects of THC, but can be more toxicand put you at risk of overdose.
•;Avoid holding your breath when youinhale. This will lower the risk oftoxins going into your lungs and body.
•;Avoid mixing cannabis withalcohol, tobacco or street drugs.This is especially true with sedatingdrugs such as opioids and someprescription drugs.
•;Avoid driving when using cannabis.It affects reaction time, coordinationand concentration, and increasesyour chances of a collision.
•;Avoid cannabis if you have a familyhistory of psychosis, substance usedisorders or other mental healthproblems.
•;Avoid cannabis if you are or mightbe pregnant.
•;Watch for bad reactions: paranoia,panic, fast heart rate, confusion,nausea or vomiting. If someone youknow is having trouble breathing, hasgone pale or is not responding, call
The key for healthy adults is to follow
these guidelines, says Dr. Gerry Predy,
AHS’ former senior medical officer of
Health. “People who use cannabis can do
so without major consequences, if they
do so carefully.” |a