- The effects of cannabis vary depending on multiple factors, but almost all effects are temporary.
- Effects can include stress relief, anxiety reduction, increased creativity and an increased appetite.
- A good way to minimize any unpleasant effects is to consume small amounts.
The way in which phytocannabinoids in cannabis interact within our own Endocannabinoid System (ECS) can cause a range of temporary effects on the mind and/or body. The effects range from person to person and depend on many factors, including: a person’s physiology, the strain, how it’s consumed, how much is consumed and the THC/CBD content, among other things.
Reasons People Use Recreational Cannabis
- to relax
- to feel happier, more social or more energetic
- to become more focused, creative or productive
- to increase appetite or arousal
Because cannabis interacts uniquely with each individual, it’s possible that you’ll experience something different than what you may expect.
Achieving Desired Effects
Until the 1980s, it was believed that the species of cannabis — sativa or indica — was solely responsible for the type of effect: sativa was typically thought to produce a more energetic experience, while indica was said to be more sedating. Now, with hundreds of hybrids and new strains on the market, coupled with new beliefs about active components and their combinations, this information may be misleading.
While many licensed cannabis producers are trying to cultivate new strains to reliably produce certain desired effects, the science of producing a product with consistent effects for every person is not yet well enough understood, and much more research will be needed before this is possible. This is another reason it’s not possible to completely predict the experience you will have.
Many licensed producers will communicate the intended effect(s) of their products. Often, the information they provide is crowd-sourced- which means it has been reported by consumers who have used the product. It is important to know that this information is not often scientifically gathered or tested, and to remember that every individual reacts to cannabis differently.
Avoiding Unpleasant Effects
Experiencing undesired effects is always a possibility when consuming cannabis, particularly when too much is consumed. These unpleasant effects can include:
- an inability to concentrate
- memory problems
- anxiety, panic or paranoia
- disorganized thoughts
- dizziness or hallucinations
- reduced reaction time
You can learn more about these unpleasant effects from this Health Canada brochure.
Most of these effects are temporary, but two excellent ways to avoid them are to choose cannabis with low THC content and to consume small amounts slowly. See our Tips for lower risk consumption to help manage your own experience.
Long-term Effects of Cannabis Consumption
Some studies have suggested there may be long-term effects associated with prolonged use of cannabis. These include (but are not limited to): harm to your memory, compromised decision-making ability and poor concentration. Other long-term effects may include:
- risks to brain development if consumption begins before age 25, especially strains with high THC potency and/or if consumption is frequent
- an increased risk to mental health for long-term, heavy consumers
- possible lung damage and infections associated with deep inhalation
- possible addiction (Health Canada estimates a 9% addiction rate)
- coughing and throat irritation from inhaling cannabis
- exposure to harmful second-hand smoke
- risk of harm to concentration, decision making ability, intelligence and memory
Consult the Health Canada website for further information on the potential health effects of consuming cannabis.