Cannabis is considered in a class of its own.

marijuana, hash, hash oil, Marinol (man-made drug for medical use)

Short-term effects


Psychological (effects may be different depending on how often it is used)
  • Feeling sleepy, relaxed
  • Feelings of well-being, joy, or happiness
  • Decreased driving skills and motor performance
  • Bigger appetite
  • Problems remembering things
  • Trouble paying attention or concentrating
  • Warped experience of time and space
  • Mood changes (silly to depressed or withdrawn behaviour)
  • Slow reaction time
  • Feelings of loss of contact with yourself and your surroundings
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there)
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Panic
  • Feeling paranoid, suspicious or fearful

  • Red eyes, enlarged pupils
  • Irritation of the respiratory tract (the parts of the body involved in breathing)
  • Cough, dry mouth
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Constipation
  • Inability to urinate

Effects and harms from long-term use
  • Loss of motivation and interest in continuous activity
  • Growing risk of problems with learning and memory
  • Linked with schizophrenia (a mental illness)
  • Damage to the respiratory system (breathing)

Use during pregnancy
  • Lower birthweight babies
  • Lack of attention and mild learning problems in early and later childhood

Cannabis dependence
  • Tolerance (needing to use more to feel its effects) appears to develop in regular users who use large amounts of the drug.
  • Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, crankiness, sleeping problems, sweating, and loss of appetite.
  • The mental craving for the drug combined with these withdrawal symptoms can make it hard for long-term cannabis smokers to stop using the drug.
  • Mental and physical dependence on cannabis can occur in people who use regularly and heavily. Dependence means that they use the drug even though it interferes with family, school, work, and leisure activities.

Cannabis and the law
  • Prior to publication of this supplement, plans by the Canadian government to reduce the punishment for possession of small amounts of cannabis from a criminal offence to a ticketing offence (while increasing the punishments for growing and selling) had been placed on hold. Under the proposed changes, it would still have been against the law to possess or sell cannabis, but the penalty for possession of small amounts would have been a fine instead of criminal charges.
  • The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) remains the law. According to the CDSA, possession of small amounts of cannabis is subject to a fine of $1,000 or imprisonment for up to six months, or both, with larger penalties for larger amounts and for repeat offences.

Use of cannabis in Nova Scotia
  • In 2004, 14 percent of Nova Scotians 15 years and over reported using cannabis in the past year, the same as for Canadians overall (2004 Canadian Addiction Survey).
  • In 2007, 32 percent of Nova Scotians in grades 7–12 reported having used cannabis in the past year. The higher the grade, the larger the percentage of students using the drug: 6 percent of grade 7 students, 31 percent of grade 9 students, 39 percent of grade 10 students, and 53 percent of grade 12 students.
  • Around one in four clients in selected Canadian drug treatment programs report that cannabis is a “problem” substance for them.

Medical uses
  • Artificially made cannabis is now available as a medicine. It works as a painkiller, controls nausea (feeling sick to one’s stomach) and vomiting, and increases appetite; it looks like it is useful for patients having chemotherapy and those suffering from AIDS-related anorexia. Hover, the exact way in which cannabis works is unknown.
  • In Canada, there are two prescription forms of artificially made cannabis available: pills and spray. In pill form, it is used to increase appetite and reduce nausea and vomiting among cancer and AIDS patients; as a mouth spray, it is used as a pain medication for people who have multiple sclerosis.
  • In 2001, Canada became the first country to start a system controlling the use of marijuana as medicine, as a result of pressure from the courts.
  • Currently people who suffer from incurable illness, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, epilepsy, severe pain and weight loss form cancer or AIDS, and very bad arthritis can get marijuana for medical reasons through a soctor (in 2004, less than 1,000 people did this)