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Christian Turner
Christian Turner

Kid Cannabis Image [HOT]


As cannabis has now been legalized for adults in Canada, the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research has revised and updated a previous resource developed in partnership with the F.O.R.C.E. Society for Kids' Mental Health and the Canadian Mental Health Association (BC Division). This new edition retains the aim of the earlier work.




Kid Cannabis image


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CANNABIS is the scientific name for the hemp plant. There are many different kinds of cannabis. The leaves and flowers of each kind produce varying mind-altering and medicinal effects when smoked or consumed. The most talked-about strains of the hemp plant are cannabis sativa and cannabis indica.


You may have heard a variety of claims about cannabis in the media or in everyday conversation. For instance, you may have heard that cannabis use causes cancer or leads to quitting school. You may have also heard that the risk of developing cancer is low for cannabis smokers and that the drug can help relieve anxiety about school.


As a parent, making sense of these conflicting claims can be confusing. While there is at least some truth in almost all of them, accurate and balanced information about cannabis is more complex than simple statements.


There are no simple answers to explain the ways cannabis use may affect people's minds, bodies, relationships and future opportunities. Why? Because people are complex beings, and our choices and behaviours are complex too.


Even if you have only limited experience with drugs, you likely know more than you think about the key issues. Most people, for example, understand intuitively that all drugs can be both good and bad. Even medication recommended by a doctor can cause harm, especially if not taken properly. When it comes to cannabis, almost everyone knows people who have had fun or benefitted in some other way from using cannabis or other drugs. Likewise, most people know of someone who has had bad experiences.


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. 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.


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.


Cannabis may be one factor that interacts with other factors, such as a vulnerability to psychosis. 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.g., they may hear voices or think someone is trying to harm them). Cannabis use can also negatively affect a person living with a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia.


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.g., mouth, tongue and lung) is less for cannabis smokers than tobacco smokers. 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 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.


Personal factors include particular personality traits (e.g., sensation seeking) which might drive a young person to use cannabis and go on to try other illicit drugs. Or a young person might try cannabis to relieve symptoms of a mental health problem (e.g., anxiety) and experiment with other substances to see if they have the same effect.


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. 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 19. People under 19 may not legally possess cannabis unless authorized to use it for medical purposes by their health care practitioner. Access to medical cannabis is regulated under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR). 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. Clinical studies have shown that smokers regulate their dosage according to the strength of the cannabis by taking smaller or fewer puffs and/or inhaling more air with their puffs.


THC is short for the chemical compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabidinol. 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.


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. 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.


With unfiltered joints, cannabis smokers inhale less tar and more THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. Cigarette filters and water pipes reduce the THC, leading smokers to inhale more vigorously and increase the amount of tar in their lungs.


Vaporizers are the safest way to use cannabis. They release THC as a fine mist while reducing the toxic by-products of smoked cannabis. Ingesting cannabis also avoids the risks related to smoke and toxins but introduces other concerns. For instance, it is harder to find the right dose because it takes longer for the body to absorb the THC. This can result in a person using more than they intended and maybe having a negative or even scary experience.


A person may be dependent if they feel like they need to use cannabis just to feel normal and function during the day. People who stop using cannabis after regular use can experience mild feelings of withdrawal. Common symptoms of cannabis withdrawal are restlessness, nervousness, irritability, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping. 041b061a72


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