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Learn more. Research shows that parents can influence a child's decision not to smoke or use other tobacco products. On this website, parents and other caregivers are provided with everyday tips and tools on a wide range of subjects, including school success and preventing underage tobacco use. You may be trying to access this site from a secured browser on the server.

Please enable scripts and reload this page. Helping Reduce Underage Tobacco Use. Our Companies. Connect Connect. Places, times and activities influence risk. Trying cannabis with friends at a weekend party and walking home later is less likely to result in harm than smoking cannabis on school property or driving under the influence. The reasons young people use cannabis are important.

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Curiosity or experimentation often lead only to occasional use. Youth may use cannabis as a way to feel better, reducing anxiety in social situations and helping them connect with friends. While using cannabis can help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression, if young people use cannabis regularly to ease troubling feelings, use can become problematic. If a youth uses cannabis to perform better at school or fit in with a particular group, they may be listening to others, rather than valuing their own needs and wants, which can result in poor choices.

The reasons a young person uses cannabis, family history, the context, amount and way in which they use the drug all contribute to whether that use is beneficial, harmful, or both. Risks related to cannabis use vary from person to person, and sometimes, from day to day for a particular person. This can make deciding if, when and how to use cannabis difficult. Parents often have to weigh potential benefits and harms, and guide decisions in their particular family situation.

So, with this in mind, and in light of what the research tells us, let's take a closer look at some of the common claims about cannabis. The human brain begins to develop in the womb but is not fully formed until well into adulthood. Drugs influence the way our brains develop. Regular cannabis use at an early age may have negative effects on brain development. All psychoactive substances, from caffeine to heroin, have an immediate effect on the brain. The negative effects of cannabis, however, are much less than the effects of some substances such as alcohol.

While the negative effects of cannabis on the brain are often minimal and reversible, exposure to psychoactive substances during development should be minimized. Available evidence cannot answer whether or not cannabis causes psychosis.

But it does reveal an association between the two, with greater risk of psychosis for people who use cannabis frequently. Cannabis may be one factor that interacts with other factors, such as a vulnerability to psychosis.

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For instance, someone with a family history of psychosis may be more sensitive to the potential psychosis-producing properties of cannabis than people without this vulnerability in their family. That said, for some people, cannabis use can result in short-term psychotic symptoms such as unusual perceptions and feelings e.

Cannabis use can also negatively affect a person living with a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia.

Talking to Your Child About Drugs

Studies on the effects of cannabis use on depression are also inconclusive. Some evidence suggests a link between frequent cannabis use and depression. But it is not clear how much of the relationship is based on cannabis use and how much is due to other factors such as family and social problems, living in poverty and other situations that may be beyond the person's control.

Even though cannabis smoke contains carcinogens cancer-causing toxins , the risk of developing some cancers e. This is because cannabis smokers tend to smoke less. Cannabis smokers typically smoke one to three cannabis cigarettes a day compared to 10 to 30 tobacco cigarettes by tobacco smokers.

Another factor is related to the properties of the cannabis plant. For example, cannabis contains chemicals called cannabinoids, which some scientists think play a protective role against cancer in the lungs. While there is an association between cannabis and quitting school, the linkages may be the result of common factors— personality traits or family issues, for example—that increase the risks of both cannabis use and dropping out of school.

Or school policy related to cannabis use may be the cause. For instance, a zero-tolerance school policy for drug use, which isolates suspended students from their peers and teachers, may be more likely to lead to a student dropping out than drug use itself. While there is an association between cannabis use and the use of other illicit drugs, the apparent linkages are related to personal, social and environmental factors rather than the effects of the drug.


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Personal factors include particular personality traits e. Or a young person might try cannabis to relieve symptoms of a mental health problem e. Social and environmental factors related to the use of other illicit drugs include how acceptable particular drugs are in the young person's social group, and how available they are in their community.

As parents, thinking about cannabis and making decisions with your family can be a complex and challenging task. Personal history and attitudes to drug use, family values, medical history, legal status, community mores, and individual desires are factors that can affect what you choose to do. Thoughtful consideration of the issues can take some time.

It is important to remember that you will make the best decision you can at that moment.


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You can re-evaluate your position and make different decisions as the situation and information available changes. Cannabis is regulated in the province of BC. You must be 19 or over to purchase, possess or use cannabis or cannabis products for non-medical purposes in BC. It is illegal to sell or give cannabis to people under People under 19 may not legally possess cannabis unless authorized to use it for medical purposes by their health care practitioner. Under the ACMPR, Canadians including those under 19 who have been authorized by their health care practitioner to access cannabis for medical purposes are able to purchase safe, quality-controlled cannabis from one of the producers licensed by Health Canada, produce a limited amount of cannabis for their own medical purposes, or designate someone to produce it for them.

Data on the potency or strength of cannabis is limited, but the available evidence suggests there is a wide range in levels of THC the main psychoactive ingredient. While there has been an increase in the average THC level over the past two decades, the rise has not been dramatic. Increases in THC levels are primarily related to selective breeding and more advanced cultivation techniques. While the long-term negative effects of higher-potency cannabis on respiratory health or mental health are unknown, some researchers point out that using smaller amounts of higher potency cannabis reduces a person's exposure to smoke and toxins and therefore might reduce risks.

Cannabis purchased through government outlets in BC is tested for quality. If purchased from a dealer or friend the THC content may not be known, and people may use more than desired, and, in doing so, may experience negative consequences.

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THC is short for the chemical compound deltatetrahydrocannabidinol. THC is the most talked-about active ingredient in cannabis because it delivers the "high" feeling associated with using the drug. Cannabis affects driving ability, including reaction time, lane maintenance, information processing, speed and distance estimation, eye movement control and attention.

It also causes fatigue, which is itself a driving hazard. For these reasons, it is safest to avoid driving for three to four hours after using cannabis. Cannabis in combination with even small doses of alcohol is a greater threat to safety than either drug used alone. In the three to four hours after using cannabis, a person may have problems remembering or learning things. If a young person uses cannabis before or during school or work, these effects could impair their ability to do well in school or perform at work.

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However, most of the evidence suggests that any long-lasting effects on learning and memory are minimal. Any kind of smoke can irritate the respiratory tract. People who smoke cannabis on a regular basis can develop inflammation in their respiratory tract the part of the body involved in breathing. This can put them at risk of chronic coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing. Using a device called a vaporizer can reduce the risk of respiratory problems. Some ways of smoking cannabis are safer than others.