ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN
Why did the Lung Health Foundation create this campaign?
The Lung Health Foundation is dedicated to ending gaps in the prevention, diagnosis, and care of lung disease in Canada.
When it comes to recreational cannabis use, we saw a big gap: there’s just too little information out there about the respiratory risks of cannabis smoke. Without this information, Canadians aren’t able to make a truly informed choice about whether (or how often) they smoke cannabis.
Our goal is to highlight the potential risks so that Canadians can make decisions that are right for them. As lung health experts, we can also provide guidance to people who have made the decision to cut down on their cannabis use, or quit altogether.
How is this campaign funded?
The Toker is run by the Lung Health Foundation, a registered charity, and made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada.
Isn’t cannabis legal?
Yes! As of 2018, cannabis is a legal substance in Canada. Our goal is to present evidence about the potential respiratory risks of cannabis smoke so that Canadians can make decisions that are right for them. The Lung Health Foundation is not advocating for an end to legal cannabis.
What else does the Lung Health Foundation say about cannabis?
- Large research gaps remain. In 2019, the Lung Health Foundation announced a new series of research studies around medical and recreational cannabis use.
- The Lung Health Foundation recognizes that there is an increasing demand for medical cannabis, but that many healthcare professionals do not feel that they have the proper knowledge to have informed discussions with patients. The Lung Health Foundation is working to fill this gap through education sessions for healthcare providers.
Who can I contact if I have questions about the campaign?
Please contact email@example.com for more information about The Toker.
ABOUT CANNABIS use+ mental health
Why is the Lung Health Foundation using the Toker to start a conversation about mental health?
We want all Canadians to understand the respiratory risks of cannabis smoke so they can make informed choices for themselves. An important step of this mission is gathering the real-world experience of people who use cannabis regularly.
In our survey of more than 800 young adults who use cannabis at least monthly, mental health was the #1 reason why people say that they’re hesitant to quit or cut back. This is backed up by evidence that suggests people who are living with certain mental health conditions like anxiety or depression are more likely to reach for cannabis regularly. Many will choose to smoke it.
The lung health risks of cannabis smoke do increase with frequency of use. If you’re regularly using cannabis to cope, we just want you to know that there are ways to make your cannabis use safer, and there are other treatment options, too. We can also help you quit if that decision is right for you.
Is cannabis ever used as a treatment for mental health conditions?
The Toker has been developed with recreational cannabis users in mind. That’s because cannabis is a complex medication to both dose and prescribe, and that’s a job better left to your healthcare provider.
You should know that the evidence regarding cannabis as a treatment for mental health conditions is mixed, and gaps remain where more research is needed.
When prescribing medical cannabis, your healthcare provider should weigh the known risks against the benefits of the treatment for your particular condition. Your healthcare provider should also weigh the available evidence in support of cannabis against other available treatment options.
For questions about medical cannabis or other potential treatment options, speak with your healthcare provider. Be sure to ask questions about how you can protect your lungs!
How will cannabis make me feel?
How cannabis makes you feel will depend on a lot of factors, and it can change from day to day. How it affects you may depend on:
- How you’re using it (smoking vs. vaping vs. ingesting).
! As lung health experts, we recommend choosing non-smoke alternatives.
- How much you use, and how often.
! As lung health experts, we’d like you to know that risks to your lungs increase with frequent use.
- Whether you are using any other substances (including alcohol, prescription medication, illegal drugs, or herbal treatments).
! As lung health experts, we’d like you to know that mixing cannabis and tobacco products is never recommended.
- Your mood and environment.
- Whether you have any pre-existing medical or psychiatric conditions.
- How you’re using it (smoking vs. vaping vs. ingesting).
Is cannabis addictive?
The proper name for “cannabis addiction” is cannabis use disorder (CUD). Luckily, most people who use cannabis (even regularly) won’t develop it. Estimates on prevalence vary, but it’s thought that around 10% of cannabis users will develop CUD.
The diagnostic criteria for CUD includes things like “increasing tolerance to cannabis’ effects” and “using more cannabis than intended”. This may directly impact your lung health, since the risks of cannabis smoke do increase with frequency of use. If you are concerned that you may be developing CUD, there are many programs and services that can help.
ABOUT CANNABIS + LUNG HEALTH
Is it the cannabis or the smoke that’s the problem?
Smoking is the most common way that Canadians use recreational cannabis. According to the Canadian Cannabis Survey 2019, 84% of respondents who had used cannabis in the previous year report smoking it.
Of all of the cannabis consumption methods, smoking poses the most risk to your lung health. Whether from burning wood, tobacco or cannabis, toxins, irritants and carcinogens are released from the combustion of materials and brought into your lungs.
As respiratory experts, we have focused thetokeronline.ca content on cannabis smoke. Every form of cannabis consumption will come with slightly different risks.
Is vaping cannabis safe?
The Lung Health Foundation cannot recommend vaping cannabis until more research on its long term safety exists. We urge you to consider non-inhaled methods of cannabis consumption.
Why do you compare tobacco smoke and cannabis smoke?
Formerly known as the Ontario Lung Association, the Lung Health Foundation has a decades-long history of helping people quit smoking cigarettes and other forms of tobacco. We have also played a big role in preventing tobacco use in youth and young adults.
When we compare tobacco and cannabis smoke, we are not promoting the “safety” of one over the other. Rather, we are trying to undo the dangerous misconception that cannabis smoke is “safe” or “safer” when compared to tobacco smoke. Both come with risks, and neither should be considered safe for your lungs.
What if I smoke cannabis regularly, and feel fine?
Not all people who use cannabis will experience symptoms, and not all symptoms will be immediate. Most of the risks we outline on thetokeronline.ca – like experiencing the symptoms of bronchitis – increase over time, and also increase when one smokes more often. The choices you make today can impact your future lung health.
If I’m using medicinal cannabis, am I exposed to the same lung health risks?
If you have a prescription for medicinal cannabis, your healthcare provider has already assessed the balance of risk vs. potential benefit for your unique situation.
As medicinal cannabis is available in many forms, the Lung Health Foundation does not recommend smoking it. We urge you to discuss the various forms available with your healthcare provider.
We are currently working to close gaps in medicinal cannabis knowledge for both patients and healthcare providers through research and education. Read more about our advice about medicinal cannabis here.
Who can I contact for more information about lung health? How can I get help with quitting?
Did you know that you have access to the guidance of Certified Respiratory Educators through the Lung Health Foundation? Our Lung Health Line is free, confidential, and non-judgemental. CREs can help you understand your existing lung condition, make a plan to manage your symptoms, find services that you need, and more. Chat live at lunghealth.ca, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1-888-344-LUNG (5864). The Lung Health Line operates Monday to Friday, from 8:30 to 4:30 EST.
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