How To Reduce The Risks Of Using Cannabis, According To New Science-Based Guidelines

One in 10 Canadian adults have used cannabis in the past year. Jan Mika/Shutterstock

Society's approach to drugs has long been shrouded by fear, hearsay, and an oh-so-unscientific lack of evidence. Not only has this approach failed to cut drug use, it’s made it tough for people and policy to make informed choices. Thankfully, things are slowly moving towards a more evidence-based approach.

Canadian researchers have released a new set of science-driven public health guidelines aimed at lowering the health risks of cannabis use for the average user. The 10 guidelines were created by an international team of experts and have already received the blessings of key public health organizations.

Their work set out to create some easy-to-follow public guidelines, in a similar to tune to public recommendations on how to enjoy alcohol responsibly and practice safe sex. The peer-reviewed study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Similar to many states in the US, Canada is slowly moving towards legalization, with the introduction of the federal Cannabis Act. It’s thought that over 10 percent of Canadian adults and 25 percent of adolescents have used cannabis in the past year.

"Factual, science-based information can provide guidance to cannabis users to make choices that reduce both immediate and long-term risks to their health," Dr Benedikt Fischer, senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said in a statement.

"People who use cannabis and cannabis-derived products, front-line practitioners, and public health professionals can all benefit from having access to evidence-informed guidelines that can help reduce the potential negative health effects associated with cannabis use," says Ian Culbert, executive director of the Canadian Public Health Association. "Through their widespread adoption, the guidelines will provide people who use cannabis with the information they need to manage their use and protect their health and well-being."

First and foremost, the new guidelines stress abstinence, arguing the best way to reduce health risks from marijuana is simply by avoiding the use of it. However, if you are going to do it, here are some simple practices you can do to lower your risk:

1) The most effective way to avoid cannabis use-related health risks is abstinence.

2) Avoid using cannabis at an early age, specifically before the age of 16 years old.

3) Choose low-potency tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or balanced THC-to-cannabidiol (CBD)-ratio cannabis products.

4) Abstain from using synthetic cannabinoids, such as “Spice”.

5) Avoid smoking cannabis and opt for non-smoking use methods, such as edibles.

6) Avoid deep or other “risky” inhalation practices.

7) Avoid high-frequency use, that includes both “daily and near-daily”.

8) Never drive under the influence of cannabis.

9) Avoid cannabis use altogether if you are at risk for mental health problems, such as a family history of them.

10) Avoid combining these previously mentioned risk behaviors as much as possible.

 

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