Understanding the risks with cannabis use

We know that many New Brunswickers are doing their own research to help make informed decisions about their personal cannabis use. Some are also talking with family, friends, colleagues or other members of their community about the harms associated with the consumption of cannabis. To help you better understand the potential risk of unintentional injury with this psychoactive substance, we invite you to learn more by clicking on the provided links.

Effects on decision-making

Cannabis use may lead to observable impairments in important aspects of decision-making such as:

  • requiring a longer planning time
  • slowing response speed
  • reducing the likelihood of making correct decisions

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Impact on driving performance

Studies show that cannabis impaired driving is associated with a significantly increased risk of crash involvement. In addition, a growing body of evidence also suggests that it is not possible to fully compensate for the impairment while driving, especially after consuming higher potency cannabis products due to its effect on the body which results in:

  • An increased reaction time
  • Greater difficulty in maintaining the correct road position (increased lane weaving)
  • Greater difficulty on divided-attention tasks during long, monotonous drives

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Combining cannabis and alcohol use

Using alcohol and cannabis in combination can result in more impairment than when using either drug separately. The evidence also suggests that the consumption of alcohol and cannabis may make certain individuals more prone to risky behaviour and reduce their ability to use compensatory driving behaviour such as slower driving and increasing the following distance between vehicles.

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Length of cannabis impairment

Cannabis impairment is different for every individual and can be influenced by many factors such as:

  • The person’s prior experience with cannabis consumption
  • Using high-potency or concentrated cannabis products
  • The use of specific cannabis smoking practices (breath-holding, deep-inhalation)
  • The choice of administration route (smoking dried cannabis, eating edible products, applying topical products)

This is why there is no standard waiting time to drive after using cannabis. However, it is recommended to avoid driving (or operating any heavy equipment) for at least 6 hours after using cannabis. Remember, this wait time may need to be longer depending on the factors listed above.

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Did you know?

Significant impairment on complex driving related tasks can last up to 5 hours after cannabis use.

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Preventing acute intoxication

It is important to put all cannabis products back into their child-resistant packaging and in a safe place away from children and pets. According to the NB Cannabis Control Act, cannabis stored in a private home has to be in a locked container or locked room in order to make sure it’s away from minors. This is especially important with edibles since published evidence, shows that almost half of all cases of unintentional exposure to cannabis by children aged 0 to 9 years involved infused cannabis products such as:

  • Brownies
  • Cookies
  • Candies
  • Popcorn

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We encourage you to continue to learn about the risks associated with cannabis use. Remember, we can all play a role in helping to prevent injuries.

Other helpful links

Information for parents, caregivers and other youth allies

This post is also available in: French