What are the health risks of cannabis use?

Illicit cannabis use can result in a range of adverse physical and mental health outcomes.

Physical health

Over the long-term, inhaling cannabis smoke is likely to result in damage to the respiratory system and may cause cancer. This damage has been shown to be present even in the absence of tobacco smoke, while harms appear to be additive for individuals who smoke both tobacco and cannabis.

Mental health

Cannabis use has been linked to a range of mental health conditions including:

  • panic attacks
  • depression and anxiety
  • psychotic episodes
  • schizophrenia
  • dependence.

Not everyone who uses cannabis develops mental health issues. However, for some people cannabis can contribute to the development of mental health symptoms or make an existing mental health condition worse. Cannabis related mental health problems can arise at any stage of cannabis use. 

Source: Adapted from the DrugInfo (2018) and Alcohol and Drug Foundation (2018) websites.