As many countries move towards adopting the legal use of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, with Canada expecting full legalization next year, it is no surprise that medical and mental experts have been busy developing guidelines for the safe use of the drug.The Canadian Research Initiative on Substance Misuse released a set of recommendations for low-risk use of marijuana.
Canada intends to ensure that the general public is informed so that no one overdoes the drug or has a hard time, especially considering the high number of Canadians reporting to having used marijuana in the past year (about 15 percent of the general population, and 30 percent of adolescents and young adults).The Canadian Public Health, Canadian Medical Association and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) worked together in researching and releasing the new Canada's Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines.They feel that these recommendations are essential, just like the ones regarding alcohol consumption.The rules represent "science-based" ways to minimize the health risks of marijuana use.
Here are the recommendations that were given:
The first guideline indicates that the best way to prevent the risks that are associated with marijuana use is complete avoidance of THC and CBD in all their forms.According to the guidelines, those who use should recognize that the risks incurred range from acute to long-term, and vary with user characteristics, patterns and the quality of the product.The effects may differ from one user to another, and in different user sessions.
2. Delay using cannabis at an early age
Studies show that beginning use of marijuana at a young age – primarily before age 16 – is associated with several adverse health and social consequences.These effects are pronounced in the young population who use it frequently or intensively, mainly because Marijuana use affects brain development.
3. Choose lower-risk cannabis products
Should you decide to use marijuana, the recommendation is that you understand the nature of the buds.The higher the THC content, the bigger the risks of acquiring mental and behavioral problems.Researchers advise that users choose products that are high in CBD: THC ratio.
4. Avoid synthetic cannabinoids
According to recent reviews on synthetic cannabinoids, they carry more acute and severe health effects, including cases of death.The recommendation is avoidance of the use of such products.
5. Avoid using harmful cannabis use methods and practices
Smoking marijuana is one such dangerous practice.Regular inhalation of smoke poses significant health risk to the respiratory system.As much as alternative methods carry their risks, marijuana administration through smoking is the most harmful to the lungs.Doctors advocate the use of edibles or vaporizers.
Users are also advised to avoid practices such as breath-holding, the Valsalva maneuver or deep-inhalation to increase psychoactive elements absorbed when smoking marijuana.Such methods also increase the intake of toxic elements into the lungs.
6. Limit your intervals of taking cannabis
Frequent or intensive use – like daily or near-daily use – is linked to higher risk of adverse social and health effects.Canada proposes that marijuana is used on weekends only.
7. Avoid driving or operating other machinery after using cannabis
Driving while high from marijuana may result in motor-vehicle accidents.Researchers endorsed that you wait at least six hours after smoking marijuana before driving.The waiting time may be longer for some users depending on their tolerance level and cannabinoids contents of the product.
8. Refrain from using marijuana if you fall under the high-risk population
This population includes pregnant women, people who are at risk of mental problems health problems, those with a family history of psychosis and substance abuse issues, among others.Researchers also said that the recommendation was partly based on precautionary measures.
9. Avoid combining the risks
According to the thorough study by researchers for the Canadian brochure, combining some of these risky behaviors will elevate the chances of adverse outcomes from cannabis use.Early use, for instance, coupled with frequent use of highly potent products is likely to multiply the risk of experiencing acute and chronic mental and health problems.
Dr.Fischer, the lead author of the guidelines endorsed by Canada, says that it's up to individuals to decide when and how they use marijuana, but the government and health officials have a responsibility to facilitate the making of smart decisions.He added that it was imperative to apply science to improve public health and to get ready for the legalization of cannabis.
Cannabis has lesser health and social risks compared to most drugs, but that does not mean that its adverse effects should be ignored.Excessive and improper use of marijuana can be a setback in one's life.
Legalization of marijuana should make it easier for cannabis users to make informed choices.Eventually, it all boils down to the individual.