Cannabis is illegal in the UK and evidence shows it may be particularly risky for young people
Vaping young man

Cannabis is an illegal drug that has been used in the UK for many years. The risks of taking cannabis are worse for young people and those with anxiety or other mental health concerns.

Instant expert: People use lots of names for Cannabis, like weed, dope, ganga, bhang, pot, herb, hash and more

Cannabis and the brain

There is evidence that regular cannabis use damages developing brains.

Brains develop very fast in early teenage years, then more slowly from age 18-25. Disrupting this development through cannabis use can interfere with this, leading to problems with memory, understanding and emotional regulation. 

Cannabis and education, employment and learning

When people take cannabis, they are less able to work or study effectively. Cannabis disrupts attention and also interacts with motivation, making harder for you to study or go to work, and less likely to care about results or rewards.

Cannabis is banned in places of learning and employment. You may be permanently excluded or lose your job for taking it.

Get support: Young people aged 16-18 in Oxfordshire who are concerned that their drug use is getting in the way of work or study can access support from the EET Service.

Risks of addiction and overdose

Cannabis mixed with tobacco is as harmful to health and addictive as smoking

Cannabis overdoses were thought to be impossible, but you can overdose on some modern cannabis products which are a neutral herb sprayed with a synthetic cannabinoid.

Instant expert: find out more about Synthetic Cannabinoids and Spice from Frank.

Risks of criminal record and drug exploitation

Growing, buying and selling cannabis is illegal. People who sell cannabis often encourage you to try other drugs, with higher cost and risks. 

There is a perception that cannabis is a less serious drug. But buying, growing, holding, giving away and selling cannabis is illegal.

Instant Expert: Find out more about Criminal Drug Exploitation.

Help to stop using Cannabis

Cannabis is a drug which can have long-lasting effects. Some people seem to suffer more from this than others. If cannabis use is causing you anxiety, making you feel bad, getting in the way of study or work, or getting in the way of the things you want to do with your life, then help is available. 

Take action: In Oxfordshire is there support available for anyone aged 11-19 (up to 25 in some cases) who has a substance misuse problem or is at risk of developing one. You can request service via

Support for family members

If someone in your family is misusing cannabis and this is causing problems in your life, support is available. Adults can get support from services like Adfam, and young people can get support too, from other services.

This sometimes called Hidden Harm support. This is because the person who is misusing suffers direct harm, but they also harm the people trying to help, support or even just live alongside them.

You may also be able to get support as a Young Carer.

Find out more

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