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Cannabis: Health and Safety

 Oregon Health Authority is monitoring a nationwide cluster of respiratory illnesses associated with use of vaping devices, primarily among teenagers and young adults. Clinicians should watch for severe respiratory illness among people who use e-cigarettes or vape devices. Learn more.

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Poison Help


Call 1-800-222-1222
if your child eats or drinks cannabis products

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What We Know

Immediate effects

  • The immediate effects of THC (the chemical in cannabis that makes you feel high) can include a relaxed or "high" feeling, increased heart rate and blood pressure, slower reactions, difficulty thinking and concentrating, increased appetite, anxiety or panic, dry mouth and red eyes.
  • When smoked or inhaled, these effects typically last 2 to 4 hours.
  • When consumed, the effects take longer to start and may last 4 to 10 hours.

Health effects in at-risk populations

The Oregon Health Authority's scientific advisory committee looks at current data in order to make evidence-based health recommendations to minimize negative health effects of cannabis use. Here's what we can say so far:

  • There is no safe level of cannabis use during pregnancy.
  • THC passes from the mother to the fetus through the placenta and exposes the fetus to THC.
  • THC can pass from the mother's breast milk to the infant. 
  • See OHA's approved public health statements (pdf) for more information.

From the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine

Surgeon General's Advisory

In August 2019, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory on marijuana use and the developing brain. The Oregon Health Authority supports this message as we work to protect the public’s health regarding cannabis use.

The advisory emphasizes "the importance of protecting our Nation from the health risks of marijuana use in adolescence and during pregnancy. Recent increases in access to marijuana and in its potency, along with misperceptions of safety of marijuana endanger our most precious resource, our nation’s youth."

Read the Surgeon General's Advisory  

For Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women

When you're pregnant...

  • If you use cannabis in any form during pregnancy, it may harm your baby. This includes smoking, eating and vaping cannabis.
  • There is no known safe amount of cannabis use during pregnancy.

If you're breastfeeding...

  • THC can get into breast milk and may harm your baby.

Talk to your doctor...

  • If you're pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant, or breastfeeding and need help to stop using cannabis.
  • If you're using cannabis as a medicine and want to talk about choices that do not risk harming your baby.

Download our brochure

For Parents

As a parent, your voice matters in the conversation about cannabis.

Download the Parent's Guide to Talking with Your Kids

Start early! Talk often.

  • Kids who use cannabis often start in their early teens. In Oregon, about 14% of 8th graders and 38% of 11th graders report having tried marijuana.1 Parents should start an ongoing conversation about drugs before kids start middle school.

Express a no-use attitude.

  • Children are more likely to use cannabis if their parents are supportive of cannabis use.

Be positive.

  • Be attentive, curious, respectful and understanding. Shame, anger, scare tactics or disappointment will be counter-productive.

Give your child ways to say no to cannabis and other drugs.

  • Ideas include role play, helping your child find words to refuse drug offers, and letting your child know it's fine to walk away from someone, including a friend, who is offering drugs.

Teens and cannabis

  • It is still illegal for teens to use non-medical cannabis. Teenagers' brains are in a critical time for development. Areas of the brain related to decision-making and learning are maturing. This means a teen’s brain may be particularly susceptible to the negative effect of any substance, including cannabis. The full impact of cannabis use on adolescent health is not known. However, based on the current science available, we can say that teens should not use cannabis because of the increased risk for both short- and possible long-term negative outcomes.

For Teens

Brain development doesn’t stop until well into our 20s. Cannabis use as a teen can get in the way of reaching your full potential.

The Stay True to You campaign is for youth and young adults to share information about the health effects and consequence of using cannabis. Visit or Stay True Oregon on Facebook or Instagram to learn more.

For Schools

The Oregon Health Authority worked with the Oregon Department of Education and the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission to develop a guide for educators and school administrators that recommends steps adults in schools can take to prevent youth cannabis use.

Download our Educator's Guide

Information for Educators (pdf)

Visit, an education campaign for parents and educators. The Spanish language version is available at

Safe Storage and Use

Cannabis, like many other drugs, can be dangerous for children and can affect a person's reaction time and ability to think clearly.

Cannabis can make children very sick.

  • Don't use cannabis when kids are around.
  • Store all cannabis products in a locked area that children cannot see or reach.
  • If your child eats or drinks cannabis products, call the Poison Center Hotline as soon as possible at 1-800-222-1222.
  • If symptoms seem bad, call 911 or go to the emergency room right away. Symptoms can include your child having trouble walking or sitting up, starting to be sleepy or having a hard time breathing.

Using cannabis while taking care of a baby isn't safe.

  • Don’t let anyone take care of your baby when they are using cannabis.
  • If you plan to use cannabis, make sure there’s another person around who’s not using it and can safely care for your child.

Using cannabis affects your ability to drive, bike or operate machinery.

  • Don't drive under the influence of cannabis. It is not safe and is still illegal.
  • Don’t ride in a car if the driver is under the influence of cannabis.
  • You shouldn't ride a bike or operate machinery if you are under the influence of cannabis.

If you choose an edible cannabis product, especially for the first time, make sure you:

  • Are in a place that you know you will be safe.
  • Have someone with you that that is not using cannabis or other drugs.
  • Start with a single serving size.
  • Give yourself time to react to the THC (the chemical in cannabis that makes you feel high), which is more slowly absorbed when taken in an edible.
  • Do not drive.

Addiction Resources

1 2018 Oregon Student Wellness Survey, p. 86