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Marijuana and mental health: What you should know now that it’s legal

Now that recreational use of cannabis is legal in Canada, it’s important to know the facts and keep safety in mind (both mental and physical) when considering using cannabis.

Here’s what you should know about marijuana now that it’s legal:

  1. There are risks involved in using marijuana.

There are misconceptions that marijuana is virtually harmless. But just as with any other psychoactive substance, there are risks involved. You’ll want to be aware of those risks and do what you can to reduce them.

Some of the potential harms of cannabis use are increased risk of psychosis,[1] potential harm to physical health,[2] cannabis use disorder,[3] and impaired cognitive ability.[4]

Youth are at very high risk for cannabis-related harms. Since adolescent brains are in an important stage of development, using marijuana puts young people at higher risk for dependency, psychosis and mental illness.[5]

  1. There are ways to minimize risk.

If you’re using cannabis recreationally, there are steps you can take to reduce potential harms. While the most effective way to minimize risk is to abstain, you can reduce risks in other ways, including by limiting how often you use cannabis, and by adjusting the way you use it.[6]

In all cases, be sure to do your research beforehand and understand the risks involved and the steps you can take to lower them.

  1. Marijuana may have some therapeutic benefits.

Some research suggests that cannabis can be used effectively to manage symptoms of a range of health problems, including chronic pain[7], some mental illnesses[8] and diseases such as epilepsy and cancer.[9]

Consult a medical professional to ensure that cannabis is the right choice for you.

  1. We need more research.

Since cannabis was banned for almost a century, research is lacking. The reality is that a lot of studies are inconclusive or contradict one another.

There is a significant need for more research to fully understand the potential harms, benefits and safest methods of cannabis use.

  1. Provinces and territories across Canada differ in regulations and restrictions.

In the same way that alcohol is regulated differently from province to province, the use of cannabis has different rules and regulations depending on the province or territory.

Some of the regulations that vary include where you can legally use marijuana, the legal age of marijuana use, and where you can purchase it.

The regulation that is shared country-wide, however, is that all cannabis is restricted to adult use, only. This is due to the growing evidence of youth being at high-risk of the potential harms of cannabis use.

Click here for more information on the regulations in your province or territory.