Learn about the risks of using cannabis

There are risks to using cannabis. Whether eating, vaporizing, smoking, using a tincture or a topical preparation, cannabis affects everyone differently.

How cannabis affects your brain

Daily use of cannabis at an early age can affect brain development. If you're thinking about using cannabis, consider waiting until you're 25.

Early cannabis use can:

  • be addictive;
  • affect your performance in school and increase your risk of dropping out;
  • affect your cognitive and motor functions;
  • alter the structure of your developing brain. This can affect things like memory, decision making, your ability to focus and plan; and
  • increase your risk of mental illness.

If you're pregnant or breastfeeding

If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not use cannabis. It could harm your fetus or newborn.

At work or when driving

If you consume cannabis, do not drive or engage in other dangerous activities at work or at home. Cannabis can impair your coordination and slow your reaction time.

Avoid mixing cannabis with other substances

Mixing cannabis and alcohol can have unpredictable effects. It can:

  • increase the risks of each drug;
  • substantially increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents;
  • increase the chance of risky sexual behaviour;
  • increase feelings of anxiety, panic or paranoia; and
  • cause over intoxication, which can lead to vomiting, dizziness or fainting.

Other things to think about while using cannabis

Share carefully

When you share a joint, you can also share an infection. To minimize the risk, hold joints so you can inhale the smoke or vapour without touching them to your lips.

You could spread COVID-19

COVID-19 spreads by droplets, including saliva. It will spread if you share joints, pipes and vaping devices contaminated by the virus.

How to inhale

Deep inhalation and breath holding may cause pain and breathing troubles.

If smoking:

  • take shallow inhales;
  • exhale right away; and
  • consider choosing other methods, such as vaporizers or edibles, instead.

Use small amounts

Limit yourself to occasional use, such as on weekends or 1 day a week at most.

If you're smoking:

  1. Take 1 or 2 small puffs.
  2. Wait 10 minutes to see how you react.

If you're consuming an edible, such as a cookie or gummy:

  1. Start with a small portion.
  2. Wait at least 1 hour to feel effects.

Choose low-potency cannabis products

Different strains and products have different effects on the body and mind. Be sure to check the THC content of your cannabis. Products with high THC content are more likely to cause harm.

Avoid the toxic effects

Using cannabis on a full stomach can help moderate the intensity of negative effects.

If you feel too high:

  • do not panic;
  • stay hydrated;
  • eat something; and
  • find a safe place to come down where you feel comfortable.

The effects will wear off within 2 to 8 hours.

Cannabis use and mental health

If you have a mental health condition, it's extremely important to consider the potential risks of using cannabis. Cannabis may:

  • lead to temporary psychosis, including paranoia and hallucinations; and
  • trigger schizophrenia if you're already vulnerable, or have a family history of the disorder.

Do not use synthetic cannabis

Synthetic cannabis products, such as K2 or spice, can cause severe health problems. These can even cause death. If you use cannabis, limit yourself to natural products.

Talking to youth about cannabis

We encourage you to talk to your children about cannabis. Providing balanced information about the effects of cannabis will help them make better decisions. Since cannabis is legal it's even more important for you to address this topic.

Early intervention can help prevent underage use and protect your child's health and development. The cannabis talk kit for parents can help you start the discussion.

Youth allies (including teachers and coaches) can use the Talking Pot with Youth: a Cannabis Communication Guide. This tool will help foster conversations about cannabis. Conversations that are safe, unbiased, informed and non-judgmental are the best ways to reach youth.

Find more information

Learn more about using cannabis in Yukon.

Contact: 

If you have questions or need support, phone toll free in Yukon 1-866-456-3838, or email cannabis@gov.yk.ca.