Cannabis (marijuana) is a green or brown material consisting of the dried flowering fruiting tops and leaves of the cannabis plant (Cannabis Sativa). The dried flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant contain mind-altering psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Additionally, there are numerous other active compounds like cannabidiol or CBD that are not mind-altering. Much of the information presented here will focus on THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. There are many different ways of using marijuana, and each one affects the mind and body differently. Marijuana can be smoked, and the dried leaves rolled up in wrapping paper and smoked as a cigarette, or it can be smoked in a pipe, bong, or any other apparatus that allows the user to inhale the marijuana smoke.
Marijuana can also be mixed into food, drinks, and edible candies. The oils concentrates, and extracts from the cannabis plant are also used in vaporizers or other devices. Strong forms of marijuana include sinsemilla and concentrated resins that contain high doses of active ingredients—for example, honeylike hash oil, waxy budder, and hard amberlike shatter. The primary psychoactive chemical responsible for the mind-altering and intoxicating effects is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The chemical is found in the leaves and buds of mostly the female cannabis plant. However, there are more than 500 chemicals and more than 100 compounds that are chemically related to THC called cannabinoids. The most common modern methods of using marijuana are smoking, vaporization, ingestion, oral application, and topical application.
Tips to Combat Marijuana Addiction
- Extrovert your attention. Walking and spending time outside can be very therapeutic.
- Make sure to eat healthy foods. A deficiency in vitamins and minerals can create a drop in mental and physical energy.
- Go to the gym. Exercise can boost morale and reduce stress and anxiety.
- Find a hobby or activity, that allows you to be in a different location than where you are using drugs.
- Recognize the people in your environment who affect you emotionally. They could be one of the reasons for your emotional problems.
How does Marijuana Affect the Mind and Body?
The chemical structure of THC is similar to a natural brain chemical, anandamide. A similar structure allows the body to recognize THC and begin to alter normal brain communication. Anandamide is an endogenous cannabinoid and functions as a neurotransmitter sending chemical messages between nerve cells in the central nervous system. This chemical affects the areas of the brain that influence memory, pleasure, thinking, concentration, movement, coordination, and sensory or time perception. Because THC is similar, the cannabinoid receptors on neurons in the brain are activated, and THC disrupts various mental and physical functions interfering with the endocannabinoid system.
Overall, the effects of marijuana on the mind and body vary from person to person. When marijuana is smoked, the THC passes through the lungs and enters the bloodstream. The chemical is then carried throughout the body to the brain. Initially, the effects are felt immediately, and most people experience a pleasant euphoria and sense of relaxation. However, common effects vary dramatically among different people. When marijuana is consumed in food, the effects are somewhat delayed as it delivers less THC into the bloodstream. THC alters the hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex of the brain that enabling a person to form new memories or shift attentional focus.
THC also disrupts how the cerebellum function and the basal ganglia brain areas that regulate balance, posture, coordination, and reaction time. As it acts through the cannabinoid receptors, THC activates the brain’s reward system stimulating neurons and releasing dopamine at higher levels. However, how marijuana affects the mind and body depends on the user’s previous experience with the drug, biology, gender, how the drug is taken, and how strong it is. The concern for most people is how cannabis negatively impacts a person’s ability to drive a motor vehicle, operate heavy machinery, and perform optimally in safety-sensitive occupations. Impaired driving is a significant problem in many parts of the country.
What are Common Street Names for Marijuana and its Legal Status in Canada?
There are numerous street or slang names to describe marijuana. In some instances, a nickname is used as a code or used as a term of affection by a marijuana user. Some of the common street names include Mary Jane, Pot, Weed, Reefer, Grass, Dope, Skunk, Giggle Smoke, Ganja, Roach, Joint, Cripple, Dagga, Herb, Flower, Hot Stick, Jolly Green, Aunt Mary, and Blanket. Slang and street names change depending on where a person lives regionally, and there are numerous names used to describe marijuana.
The legal status of marijuana changed on October 17, 2018. Cannabis, including dried cannabis and some oils, was made legal for non-medical use by those of legal age ( 18 or 19, depending on the province or territory). On October 17, 2019, edible cannabis products, cannabis extracts, and cannabis topicals were permitted for legal sale and purchase. When the Cannabis Act came into effect, provinces and territories are responsible for determining how cannabis is distributed and sold within each jurisdiction.
However, there are set rules around how cannabis is sold, where the stores are located, how stores operate, and who is allowed to sell cannabis. Each province and territory also has the flexibility to set added restrictions like lowering possession limits, increasing minimum age, restricting where cannabis is used in public, and adding requirements on personal cultivation. Every Canadian citizen is responsible for knowing what is legal regarding marijuana in the province or territory where they live.
The History of Marijuana in Canada
There is a long history surrounding cannabis in Canada. Yet, in 1923, cannabis was deemed illegal in Canada after the Narcotics Drug Act Amendment Bill introduced the Act to Prohibit the Improper Use of Opium and Other Drugs. Cannabis was added to the act in addition to opium, cocaine, and morphine. History recorded that Canadian law enforcement made one of the first marijuana seizures in the late 1930s. However, by early 1962, cannabis gained popularity, and the number of convictions connected to cannabis increased across the country. This trend continued into the early 1970s, and by that time, the Canadian government formed the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs. Part of this inquiry was to investigate the non-medical use of cannabis, among other drugs. In 1972, the above-mentioned commission released a report recommending that the federal government remove criminal penalties for the use and possession of cannabis; however, no steps were taken to decriminalize the drug.
According to the RCMP, between 1980 and 1985, cannabis derivatives like marijuana, hashish, and liquid hashish were readily available and the most widely used illicit drug in the country. At that time, every region of the country reported cannabis use, and the population of cannabis users during the 1980s began seeking out higher potencies of cannabis derivatives. In 1983, the total number of cannabis products seized in the country increased by 25% from the previous year. In some regions of Canada, hashish was more prevalent than marijuana, and this trend continued through the early 1980s.
During the late 1980s and into the 1990s, cannabis products remained the most widely used drugs in Canada. Hashish and marijuana rivaled one another as the primary product of choice, and the number of persons charged with cultivation offenses continued to rise. By 1987, it was estimated that domestic cultivation held 20% of the Canadian market, primarily within British Columbia. During the early 1990s, cannabis products continued to be the most available and favored illicit drug in the country. In 1993, around 30% of the marijuana supply for Canada was grown in Canada.
Throughout the late 1990s and into the early 2000s, the smuggling of Canadian marijuana into the United States increased significantly. However, Canadian criminal organizations still imported large quantities of hashish and marijuana from other countries. Within the Canadian government, in 2001, the first rendition of the country’s medical marijuana law was created—in 2018, recreational cannabis was made legal in Canada.
According to information gathered by market research, spending on adult cannabis use is forecast to grow from $569 million in 2018 to around $5.2 billion by 2024. Every part of the country has different rates of cannabis use. Within Alberta, 16.5% of residents had used cannabis in the last three months, and British Columbia had a 15.3% usage rate at the end of 2018. The Maritime provinces had the highest rates of cannabis use during 2018.
What are the Long-Term and Short-Term Effects of Abusing Marijuana?
The short-term and long-term effects of marijuana are different for each person. However, THC produces euphoria and relaxation. The chemical also changes perception, and causes time distortion, and deficits in attention span. Other short-term effects include the inability to divide attention, and this results in deficits in memory—the body may also experience tremors and impaired motor function. Cannabis impairs coordination and balance, and recent cannabis use can increase heart rates, appetite, and blood pressure. Cannabis users also experience dilated pupils, red eyes, dry mouth and throat, and bronchodilators.
Long-term effects are usually experienced because of regular cannabis use. Users could experience deficits in memory, attention, psychomotor speed, and executive functioning. These effects are especially felt among those who started using cannabis during early adolescence. The regular use of cannabis increases the risk of psychosis, depression, anxiety, and breathing problems leading to respiratory conditions. However, there is no clear medical definition for what the regular use of cannabis is. In general, the term would refer to weekly or more frequent use over periods of months or years. Heavy cannabis use could be considered daily or more frequent use.
Regular cannabis use can affect mental health, cognitive functioning, respiratory and cardiovascular health, and the developing child during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Regular use of marijuana increases the risk of developing psychosis and schizophrenia. The risk increases because of family history, those who use cannabis heavily, and those who use high amounts of THC. Regular cannabis use is generally associated with more harm than benefits among individuals with mental health concerns. Regular cannabis use has also been associated with differences in brain structure, including differences in the brain’s natural reward pathways.
THC has the potential to affect blood pressure and heart rate. The chemical will also make the lungs and airways more susceptible to infections and respiratory problems when marijuana is smoked. Smoking cannabis regularly commonly causes coughing on most days, wheezing, sore throat, chest tightness at night, and bronchitis. Cannabis smoke does contain many of the same toxins and cancer-causing chemicals as tobacco smoke, primarily because of the carcinogens within the marijuana smoke.
Marijuana Overdose, does it Happen, and How Does it Occur?
A marijuana overdose is not common, yet it is not impossible. Most overdose connected to cannabis is because by other drugs mixed with the cannabis or synthetic marijuana. Marijuana primarily affects the part of the brain that is responsible for memory and coordination. Overall, when compared to other drugs, the risk of overdose is low. However, that does not mean that overconsumption of marijuana does not have unpleasant effects. Over the last few decades, the concentration of THC in some cannabis strains has increased. Typically, the issues of marijuana overconsumption lie within the concentration of THC.
Overconsumption of marijuana or overdose does cause some issues that can arise when too much is smoked or ingested. For example, some of these problems include headache and lightheadedness, escalated or emphasized heart rate, feelings of paranoia or anxiety, auditory or visual hallucinations, and general confusion or panic. Like any other symptoms of a drug overdose, it is important to seek medical attention. Treating the effects of marijuana intoxication is typically a waiting game and keeping the individual calm. Paranoia, anxiety, and panic attacks are common with THC overconsumption.
Overall, there is not a straightforward answer to how much is too much as every person is different and has completely different tolerances to the drug. Also, cannabis products vary greatly in potency; however, edibles have been connected to more negative reactions partly because they take longer to produce effects. Mixing cannabis with alcohol will also produce negative effects or make the current reaction worse. Death connected to only cannabis and nothing else is extremely rare, yet every year there are numerous hospitalizations.
According to the Canadian Drug Summary for Cannabis, between 2017 and 2018, cannabis was the most common substance associated with substance-related hospitalizations (first or second drug detected 39%) for youth aged 10 to 24. Among approximately 22% of hospitalizations, cannabis was found to be the only known substance. Also, among Canadians aged ten and over, cannabis was the third most common substance associated with hospital stays due to substances only—this does include cannabis combined with other drugs.
Additionally, as vaping has become a popular method of consuming cannabis, as of February 18, 2020, there have been 2,807 reported vaping hospitalizations or deaths associated with pulmonary illness. Driving under the influence of cannabis is also a significant problem in Canada. During the first six months of legalization in Canada, 14.7% of respondents reported driving within two hours of consuming cannabis. Roadside surveys of drivers conducted in British Columbia indicated that 8.5% of drivers tested positive for at least one psychoactive substance, and 70.5% of drivers tested positive for cannabis. Also, during the first six months of legalization, approximately 13.4% of survey respondents reported using cannabis at or before work.
Marijuana Addiction and Recreational Drug use in Canada
Marijuana does become an addictive drug and causes psychological addiction leading to withdrawal symptoms. Someone who begins using marijuana before the age of 18 is roughly four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults. Marijuana addiction is usually associated with dependence because the person experiences withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop regular or heavy use. Someone who uses marijuana frequently reports feeling irritability, mood and sleep difficulties, decreased appetite, cravings, restlessness, and physical discomfort within the first couple of weeks of stopping.
Marijuana dependence or addiction occurs when the brain adapts to large amounts of the drug and reduces the production of the naturally occurring endocannabinoid neurotransmitters. Marijuana addiction could occur like any other drug addiction; the person cannot stop using the drug even though it interferes with every aspect of their life. Moreover, there is some research that suggests that marijuana use is likely to precede the use of other licit and illicit drugs or substances. Marijuana use is also linked to other substance use disorders like nicotine addiction.
According to a National Epidemiological Study of Alcohol Use and Related Disorders, it found that adults who reported marijuana use were more likely than adults who did not use marijuana to develop an alcohol use disorder within three years. Someone who used marijuana and already had an alcohol use disorder at the outset was at greater risk of their alcohol use disorder. Other studies have shown that beginning marijuana use early in life increases vulnerability to addiction to other substances later in life. However, most people who use marijuana do not abuse hard drugs, yet it does occur. Alcohol and nicotine also prime the brain for a heightened response to other drugs and are typically used before someone progresses to other drugs.
Research has also shown how marijuana use negatively affects attention, memory, and learning. Someone who smokes marijuana daily is at risk of functioning at a reduced intellectual level most or all of the time. Unfortunately, these problems negatively impact school-age children and teens. There are many different reasons why young people begin to use marijuana. However, considerable evidence suggests that students who smoke marijuana have poorer educational outcomes. Teens may smoke marijuana to deal with stress at home or at school or to cope with physical or emotional abuse. Other reasons teens use marijuana is because of peer pressure or experimentation.
Studies have also suggested specific links between marijuana use and adverse consequences in the workplace. For example, this includes increased injury and accidents. Regular marijuana use leads to addiction—according to the Canadian Drug Summary for Cannabis, one in eleven individuals who use cannabis will develop an addiction. The risk of addiction increases to one in six for individuals that start using marijuana as a teen. The risk of cannabis addiction increases between 25% and 50% for those who smoke cannabis daily.
Marijuana Addiction Treatment and Detox in Canada
Marijuana addiction has a significant impact on relationships, work, school, and every other aspect of life. Marijuana addiction is a common problem that teens and adults struggle with, and marijuana is often part of a larger drug problem. Overall, marijuana addiction is similar to other addicts as it does progressively become worse without help. Most adults that seek treatment for marijuana addiction have been using the drug for many years. Many teens that struggle with marijuana addiction often have underlying issues that led to addiction. In addition, other substances like cocaine, alcohol, and methamphetamine are abused alongside marijuana.
The first step in treating marijuana addiction is detox, and typically the drug detox is not as severe as compared to other drugs. Most symptoms appear within one week after the individual stops smoking marijuana. Some of the common withdrawal symptoms include feelings of anger, irritability, and or aggressiveness. There are also sensations of extreme nervousness or anxiety, and disturbances with sleep like insomnia, dreams, or nightmares. Marijuana withdrawal causes a decrease in appetite, feelings of restlessness, and the onset of depression and anxiety. Some of the physical symptoms include distress, abdominal pain, fever, chills, sweating, headaches, and or tremors.
The initial symptoms usually begin within one week after stopping and peak within ten days. However, following the peak of withdrawal symptoms, they begin a steady decline in severity. Overall, the actual length and severity of symptoms are related to the amount and frequency of marijuana use in the individual. The withdrawal process for marijuana addiction is not considered to be life-threatening; however, some individuals struggle more than others. Drug detox should not be considered the only approach to drug rehab as it will not address underlying issues.
The next phase of drug rehab involves attending a residential or outpatient drug rehab center. Typically, the severity and extent of addiction determine what type of drug rehab is needed. Severe long-term addiction benefits from inpatient drug rehab. When marijuana is part of a larger drug addiction problem, lengthy residential drug rehab is the best choice. Some of the most common therapy models used include behavioral therapies and evidence-based approaches. Therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, and motivational enhancement therapy. Other successful therapies for marijuana addiction include holistic approaches and experiential therapy like wilderness and adventure programs.
It is also important to consider aftercare support as this is an integral part of the rehabilitation process. Aftercare is also known as recovery management or continuing care and comprises medical, psychological, and economic programs. The programs are designed to help recovering marijuana addicts maintain abstinence and reduce the risk of relapse. Aftercare is also known as recovery management or continuing care. Any aftercare support should start immediately after drug rehabilitation is complete. Aftercare also includes sober living homes, peer support groups, and 12-step meetings. A well-rounded approach is essential because it rehabilitates the mind, body, and spirit.
According to the Canadian Drug Summary for Cannabis between 2016 and 2017, cannabis was the second most frequently reported drug use among individuals receiving treatment from publicly funded programs across eight of the 13 different provinces. Between 2017 and 2918, cannabis was the third most frequently reported drug used among individuals receiving treatment.
Marijuana Use Statistics and Drug Use Trends in Canada
According to the Cannabis Canadian Drug Summary, in 2017, the past-year use of cannabis among the general population was 14.8%, and this was an increase from 2015. The average percentage of Canadians using marijuana ranged from 14% to 17% from 2018 to 2019. Among adults aged 25 and over, 15.6% reported past-year use of cannabis in 2017, and this was an increase from 12.3% in 2015. Among youth aged 15 to 24, the rate of past-year cannabis use in 2017 was over two times higher among Canadian youth and young adults aged 15 to 24 compared to adults aged 25 to 64.
Marijuana use among high school students continues, and between 2018 and 2019, 18.1% of students in grades 7 through 12 from across Canada reported past-year use of cannabis. When compared to 2016 and 2017, this was an increase from 16.7%. Moreover, among the 14.8% of Canadians aged 15 and older who used cannabis in the past three months in 2017, 32% reported that they used cannabis daily. Among those who reported using cannabis, 91% smoked the substance, 38% consumed edible cannabis products, 34% smoked a tobacco product, 29% vaped cannabis, and 22% mixed cannabis with tobacco.
According to Health Canada, in 2017, 4.4 million Canadians aged 15 and older had used cannabis in the past 12 months. Approximately 19% were aged 15 to 19, 33% were aged 20 to 24, and 13% were aged 25 and older. The surveys conducted by health Canada pointed out that over 90% of respondents thought that using cannabis could be habit-forming, and this was an increase from 82% in 2018. Most people who reported using cannabis also thought cannabis could be habit-forming.
According to a Nanos Poll published in 2018 after the legalization of marijuana, more than 60% of Canadians say they will not consume cannabis once it becomes legal. At the time of this poll, close to 6 in 10 Canadians reported they had tried marijuana but had no interest in consuming cannabis products once they became legal. The findings of the poll indicated 20% of Canadians mention people driving or working under the influence of marijuana as the top concern. Approximately 17% worried about the negative effects on youth. Close to 9 in 10 Canadians agree or somewhat agree that schools should play a role in educating youth about cannabis.
According to a Canadian Youth Perceptions on Cannabis Report, overall, youth considered cannabis to be less harmful than alcohol and other substances. A number of reasons were cited, like using cannabis to fit in with family and friends, its availability, and the drug’s positive effects on coping with stress. Participants of the survey also viewed impairment caused by cannabis as less concerning than impairment caused by alcohol.
Common Terminology for Marijuana Use in Canada
|Marijuana||Also known as cannabis, marijuana is a broad word for a plan and its flowers that contain several psychoactive ingredients like THC and or CBD.|
|Cannabis||Indigenous to central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, cannabis is a genus of flowering plants that includes Cannabis Ruderalis, Cannabis Sativa, and Cannabis Indica.|
|Cannabinoids||A chemical compound found in the cannabis plant and is a large class of compounds that act on the brain’s cannabinoid receptors in cells that repress neurotransmitter release.|
|Cannabidiol||Known as CBD, cannabidiol is one of over 60 molecules called cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant. Unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive properties.|
|Blunt||A blunt is created by dumping out tobacco from a cigar and then rerolling the cigar with marijuana.|
|Bongwater||Bongwater is the water in a bong that cools and filters the smoke and is a dark and dank-smelling liquid in the bottom of the bong.|
|Budder||This is a marijuana concentrate that is similar to wax but softer and more pliable. Budder is a type of hash oil that can contain 70% THC.|
|Grinders||A circular metal, steel, or wood device is used to break down marijuana to make rolling joints, blunts, or packing a bowl.|
|Hash/Hash Oil||Hashish is the gathering of trichomes via a dry sieve or water extraction method, in which the end product is then pressed and consumed.|
|Shatter||This is a type of concentrate that is believed to be the purest and most potent type of marijuana product.|