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Cannabis

This webpage provides information about what cannabis is and the health effects of cannabis use and misuse.

 

Cannabis Legalization in Connecticut

Public Act 21-1 [June Special Session] authorized the legalization, regulation, and taxation of recreational cannabis for adults aged 21 or older in Connecticut. Resources:

Adult-Use Cannabis in Connecticut: Get the Facts New England Prevention Technology Transfer Center Information Sheet - Overview of Connecticut Cannabis Legalization Law PA 21-1

Lessons from Tobacco Control for Marijuana Regulation

Principles for a Public Health and Equity Approach to Cannabis Regulation

 

What is Cannabis?

Cannabis (also called marijuana) refers to products derived from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plant.

Some of these cannabis products contain large amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

  • THC is a psychoactive, or mind-altering, chemical that is responsible for most of the intoxicating effects of cannabis that people seek.

Resources:

Connecticut Department of Public Health Cannabis Fact Sheet

National Institute of Drug Abuse - What is Marijuana

National Institutes of Health - Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need to Know

Cannabis Products Fact Sheet

 

How Many People Use Cannabis?

  • Over 31 million people aged 12 years or older used marijuana in the past month in the United States.
  • In 2017, an estimated 9.4% of Connecticut adults marijuana one or more times in the past 30 days (2017 BRFSS data).
    • The prevalence of marijuana use varies by gender, age, sexual orientation, mental health status, and disability status.  For example, 20.7% of adults age 18 to 24 years old use marijuana compared with 5.7% of adults 55 to 64 years old. [Detailed data will be made available soon]
  • In 2017, an estimated 21.7% of Connecticut high school students used marijuana on one or more days of the past 30 days (2017 YRBS data).
    • The prevalence of marijuana use among high school students varies by grade, sexual orientation, and mental health status.  For example, 25.1% of students with poor mental health use marijuana compared with 13.9% of students without poor mental health.
  • To access data and statistics concerning the impact of cannabis consumption on public health in Connecticut, visit the Department of Public Health's Cannabis Health Statistics webpage.

Resources:

SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2018 and 2019.

Connecticut Department of Public Health, Connecticut Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) 2017 Summary Tables

Connecticut Department of Public Health, Connecticut Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) 2017 Summary Tables

 

 

How Does Cannabis Use in Connecticut Compare to Use in the Nation?

The percent of youth and adults that used cannabis in the past month in Connecticut is similar to the percent in the United States and the Northeast Region.

Past-Month Cannabis Use in Connecticut,  United States, and Northeast by Age Group

Data source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health and Statistics and Quality, National Survey on Drug Use and Health Small Area Estimates, 2018 and 2019.

Resource:

High School Students' Use of Electronic Cigarettes to Vaporize Cannabis (2015)

 

Is Cannabis Addictive?

According to the CDC, about 1 in 10 cannabis users will become addicted while about 3 in 10 may develop dependence on cannabis.

  • For people who begin using before the age of 18 years, 1 in 6 cannabis users will become addicted.
  • The dependence, addiction, and other negative consequences increase with exposure to high concentrations of THC.
    • THC concentrations have increased over time.

Resources:

CDC - Marijuana: How Can It Affect Your Health?

U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory: Marijuana Use and the Developing Brain

 
Changes in Cannabis Potency Over Time

Percentage of THC and CBD in the Cannabis Samples Seized by the DEA from 1995-2019

Chart displaying increase in cannabis potency over time

Data Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse - Marijuana Potency

 

What are the Health Effects of Cannabis?

The health effects of cannabis use are not fully understood as widespread studies have not been performed since it remains illegal at the federal level. Studies have shown that there may be a range of health effects on the body and brain, including the following:

Part of Body or Type of Cannabis Product Health Effect
Brain

Short-term effects on the brain:

  • Relaxation;
  • Euphoria;
  • Impaired short-term memory, work performances, judgement, motor coordination, and reaction time;
  • Dangerous driving

Frequent cannabis use in high doses may result in disorientation and paranoia.

Developing brains, like those in babies, children, and teenagers:

  • Problems with attention, memory, and problem-solving skills;
  • Behavior problems;
  • Dependence on cannabis / addiction
Lungs Cannabis smoke may cause a heavy cough and increase the risk for cancer and lung disease.
Heart

Cannabis makes the heart beat faster.

Cannabis use increases the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Edible Cannabis Poisoning / THC overdose (paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions)
Chronic Users of Cannabis with High THC Content Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, which is marked by severe cycles of nausea and vomiting

Sources:

Health Effects of Marijuana | Health Effects | Marijuana | CDC

U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory: Marijuana Use and the Developing Brain

Resources:

DAWN Marijuana Profile (Emergency Department Visits Related to Cannabis Use)

Drugged Driving

 

What are the Effects of Secondhand Cannabis Smoke?

Secondhand cannabis smoke contains many of the same cancer-causing substances and chemicals as secondhand tobacco smoke, including benzene, cadmium, chromium, formaldehyde, lead and mercury.

People who are exposed to secondhand cannabis smoke can have detectable levels of THC in their blood and urine.

Resources:

Chem. Res. Toxicol. 2008, 21, 2, 494-502.  Publication Data: December 7, 2007

Drug and Alcohol Dependence.  Non-Smoker Exposure to Secondhand Cannabis Smoke II: Effect of Room Ventilation on Physiological, Subjective, and Behavioral/Cognitive Effect.  Hermann, etal.  2015 June 1; 151:194-202.  doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.03.019

 

Contact information:

Community, Family Health and Prevention Section (CFHPS) - (860) 509-8251

 

This page was last updated on October 12, 2021