During this year’s 4/20 Alberta Health Services is reminding Albertans to avoid mixing cannabis with alcohol, tobacco, e-cigarettes or other drugs.
The combination of both substances can increase impairment and lead to injuries and/or risky behaviours. AHS recommends using cannabis without any other substances.
According to the 2021 Canadian Cannabis Survey, a fourth of Canadians over the age of 16 have admitted to using cannabis for non-medical purposes in the previous 12 months. Two-thirds of the people surveyed have used cannabis and alcohol in combination with about a third had used cannabis and tobacco in combination.
In 2017, in Alberta, those with a current smoking status were more than four times more likely to report using cannabis at least weekly than those who do not smoke.
The combination of cannabis and tobacco is particularly harmful as it exposures the body to chemicals and compounds from both, such as benzene and tar, which are known to cause cancer.
Smoking both tobacco and cannabis together can also cause nicotine and/or cannabis dependence.
AHS has given some tips to reduce risks:
- Delay use. The younger you are when you start, the higher your risk of developing physical and mental health problems, such as anxiety, difficulty concentrating and, in some cases, psychosis. Some people are more likely to develop problems from cannabis use; specifically, those with a personal or family history of psychosis or substance use problems.
- Choose low-strength cannabis products with low THC (less than 10 mg or 10 per cent) and equal or higher CBD content.
- Don’t mix/combine cannabis use with tobacco/nicotine, alcohol or other drugs.
- If you are smoking cannabis, don’t inhale deeply or hold your breath, so it’s not as damaging to your lungs.
- Choose other forms of cannabis that you don’t inhale, such as edibles. Remember that they still have health risks.
- Don’t use cannabis or other substances if you’re pregnant, think you might be, or are trying to get pregnant.
- Don’t smoke or vape cannabis or tobacco in your home or around children. Second-hand smoke and vapour is harmful, especially to children or people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Keep all drugs (including cannabis, alcohol, tobacco, and tobacco-like products) locked up, out of sight, and out of reach of children and pets. Keep cannabis and all drugs in their original containers. Make sure products are clearly labelled, especially for homemade products. Cannabis packaging bought from a legal source is marked with the universal symbol for THC.
- Do not drive or operate machinery while under the influence of cannabis and/or other substances.
If you are concerned about your own or someone else’s use of cannabis, alcohol, or another drug, please contact Health Link at 811 or the Addiction Helpline at 1-866-332-2322.