Health Effects of Cannabis

It’s important to be aware of some of the effects cannabis can have on your health. If you have any questions about it, your doctor can be a great resource.


Cannabis is sold in different strains and forms,and can be found in a wide range of strengths (potency). The main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis is THC. The concentration of THC in dried cannabis is higher now than it ever has been. Cannabis products such as edibles or concentrates have even higher THC amounts. These products are frequently used by teens and young adults, who are more susceptible to negative health impacts.

Using high-THC cannabis products makes it easy to accidentally use too much at one time, which can cause:

  • fast heart rate,
  • difficulty breathing,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting, and
  • periods of paranoia.

It can take between 30 minutes and several hours to feel the full effects of edible cannabis product, which can make it easy to take too much. If you are consuming edibles, start with a small amount and go slowly. They can continue to impact your brain and body for 12 or more hours, meaning if you use edibles at night, you could still be impaired the next morning- impacting school, work, or your morning commute.

Frequent or long-term use of high THC cannabis is also linked to poor mental health outcomes, including increased anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, or dependency.

Respiratory + Lung Issues

Cannabis smoke irritates the lungs. People who smoke cannabis daily or near-daily may have a daily cough, bronchitis, mucus and wheezing. Cannabis smoke contains many of the same cancer-causing chemicals as tobacco smoke. Heavy cannabis smoking is strongly associated with tissue damage in the airways of your lungs. We need more research to determine if this tissue damage increases the likelihood of developing lung cancer.

Mental Health

Daily or near-daily use of cannabis can create challenges with memory. Cannabis, especially in high amounts, can cause temporary psychosis (not knowing what is real, hallucinations and paranoia) while you are high. Increased anxiety and depression are also common with regular cannabis use.

The mental health impacts of cannabis can be more severe for younger individuals, especially youth and young adults whose brains have not fully developed. A person’s brain is still developing until around the age of 25.

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke from cannabis has many of the same cancer-causing chemicals as secondhand smoke from tobacco. That means you shouldn’t smoke around children, pregnant people, pets, or anyone who doesn’t want to be exposed to secondhand smoke.


It is possible to become dependent on cannabis. Increased quantity and frequency of use are linked to developing dependence. There are several risk factors for developing a dependence on cannabis. Being male and smoking cigarettes are both risk factors for developing problem use. Presence of major depressive disorders increases risk for dependence. Talk to your provider to get confidentially connected to treatment options.

Cannabis use can become problematic if it affects your health, social relationships, work, or school life and performance. Cannabis Use Disorder is when cannabis use has led to a dependence or addiction, making it so you are unable to get through your regular life tasks without needing to use.

If you are having a hard time getting through your daily life without using more cannabis, there are options for cutting back. This guide has resources to take a cannabis screening tool, as well as some activities you can do to help lower your risk.

Youth Health Consequences

Using cannabis as a minor can have lasting health impacts. Visit our Youth Health Consequences page for more information.