Why is cannabis a concern for youth?
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While cannabis is legal for those over the age of 19, it is illegal for everyone else. This means that under-age users will turn to the black market, or “street” products. These products are not regulated or checked by anyone, and can contain substances other than cannabis. In many cases, street cannabis has been found to include many other drugs such as cocaine and fentanyl.
Mixing drugs together can have very dangerous and harmful effects. The two drugs can interact and change how the body responds. This can lead to the user making riskier decisions like using more drugs, engaging in sexual behaviours, or dangerous behaviours like impaired driving. The user can also become addicted to the other drug contained in the cannabis.
The balance between THC and CBD in a product is also a concern for youth. Higher potency THC products increase the risk of developing health problems with regular use. The potency of these chemicals is measured in a percentage. On average, the potency of THC found in cannabis products on the black market is around 17 – 23%, products which can be bought legally range up to 35% THC. However, synthetic cannabis products (which are made and sold illegally, regardless of the users age), can have a THC potency of 85 – 90%. A harm reduction strategy for cannabis use is to use lower potency products, and to use them infrequently.