Your Health

For some people, cannabis is a way to treat or manage a health condition. But like any treatment, it may have harmful effects.

 

What are the effects?

Whether it’s smoked, eaten, vaped, or dabbed, cannabis can have effects on your health. While we understand adults choose to use cannabis for positive reasons, we’re here to share a few of the not so good effects. These effects can be magnified with chronic and persistent use.

Potential health effects

Memory

Research shows that heavy cannabis use can impact your memory. Those effects can continue for weeks after you’ve quit. So just remember, the more you use, the greater the risk.

Learn more about how cannabis can affect your memory from the University of Washington’s Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute.

Mood and mental health

Because it interacts with your brain chemistry, regular cannabis use may make you feel depressed, anxious, or paranoid. You also could feel unmotivated or lose interest in what you’re doing.

Dependence and addiction

As an addictive substance, quitting cannabis can be hard. Heavy users may experience cannabis withdrawal in the form of irritability, anxiety, or sleepiness.

If you need help quitting, contact the Washington Recovery Help Line at 1-866-789-1511.

Side effects

While cannabis can be natural, it’s not free from harm. Too much cannabis can lead to side effects—like impaired judgment and coordination, panic attacks, hallucinations, paranoia, and psychotic episodes.

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS)

Chronic, or persistent, cannabis users may be at risk of Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS). CHS is an illness that causes recurring vomiting. For people experiencing CHS, frequent hot bathing may help. But researchers have found that CHS tends to continue until people completely abstain from cannabis.

What if I mix it with other substances?

While people do combine alcohol and tobacco with cannabis, researchers are still trying to completely understand how mixing substances can affect the mind and body.

What we know

Mixing cannabis with alcohol—known as “crossfading”—may increase both risks and side effects. We’re talking about things like nausea, vomiting, panic attacks, increased anxiety, and paranoia.

If you become too intoxicated by alcohol and cannabis at the same time, you may have less control of yourself and less awareness of your surroundings. This could impair the decisions you make.

Want more information? Check out the University of Washington’s Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute.

Mixing alcohol and cannabis >
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What about driving after use?

Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal. So is having it out in your car. That’s why it’s best to keep cannabis unopened, in its original package, and out of reach—like in the trunk. That means passengers too. When you’re along for the ride, remember, it’s still illegal to have cannabis outside of its original package or use it while in the passenger seat.

Choosing a safe alternative

Driving a car under the influence of cannabis isn’t just illegal—it’s dangerous. Even if you feel like you “drive better high,” data indicates that driving under the influence of cannabis increases the risk of crashing. So, for the safety of others, it’s important to find a designated driver, call a cab, or use a rideshare service.

And we’re not alone on this. Studies show consuming cannabis can affect your judgment, coordination, and reaction times—even if you’ve only had “a little.”

Driving while under the influence could lead to harmful, possibly deadly, crashesleaving you subject to significant legal penalties.

105 deadly crashes in 2016 involved a driver who tested positive for cannabis. An increase from 91 fatal crashes in Washington state during the previous year.

That risk can increase when you mix cannabis with alcohol. Alcohol and cannabis are the most common combination of drugs found in drivers involved in deadly crashes. By choosing a safer ride alternative, you can keep yourself—and everyone else on the road—out of harm’s way.

Learn more about driving under the influence of cannabis from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.