cannabis seedlings

5 Things to Know Ahead of Legal Cannabis

With Canada’s cannabis legalization looming on October 17, health professionals are taking on the responsibility of educating patients about the risks and potential benefits of marijuana use. Here are five facts that every Canadian should know about cannabis use and their health.

1. Marijuana can adversely affect your health. Among other conditions, smoking marijuana can cause xerostomia (dry mouth) — which can lead to caries, periodontal disease and other diseases such as cancer. It is estimated that one joint contains as much tar as 10-20 cigarettes. 

2. There is some evidence that cannabis can be effective for treating pain, and may have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. Pain arising from orofacial conditions such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), trigeminal neuralgia and migraine headaches, for instance, might be effectively treated with marijuana. There is also some evidence that strains containing cannabidiol (CBD) might help fight oral inflammation associated with periodontal disease.

There is some evidence that cannabis can be effective for treating pain, and may have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities.

3. While cannabis has been shown to have some far-reaching medicinal as well as anti-anxiety properties, far more research needs to be done into the effects of cannabis, whether recreational or medicinal. Evidence-based literature regarding dosage, strains and more are still in the infancy stage. With legalization, the hope is that more research will be undertaken.

4. Contrary to popular belief, cannabis is addictive — just not for everyone. Approximately nine per cent of users become addicted. That number rises to 17 per cent for people who started using in their teens. 

5. Cannabis can have adverse interactions with other drugs, causing drowsiness or even bleeding risks. It can also cause psychosis. Until now, many patients were hesitant to admit marijuana use to their health care providers — sometimes to the detriment of their health and wellbeing. With marijuana legalization, that conversation may change.

 

Read more about this issue in our UofT Dentistry magazine feature, “Going to Pot,” from our special issue on how drug use impacts practice and patients.