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Best Practices for Safe Cannabis Use

Most American states now allow some form of medical marijuana use, and several have now even legalized recreational use. With Canada moving at the national level to create a regulated market for all purposes, the momentum of the issue is clear. Now that you either currently have or likely soon will have the ability to consume marijuana legally, it is essential to be aware of how to do so without harming your own safety or that of others.

Driving and DUI

First of all, it is important to realize that, as is the case with alcohol, being allowed to use marijuana legally is not the same thing as being allowed to drive under its influence. To the contrary, for example, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board advises that, even though marijuana is legal in the state, having 5 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) or more of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) in your blood while driving is grounds for a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrest. While specifics may vary, other states generally have laws controlling driving under the influence of any impairing drug. Washington law allows marijuana use only when it is not in view of the general public.

Marijuana and Health

Tod H. Mikuriya, M.D., while affirming the medical benefits of responsible marijuana use, warns that marijuana is, in fact, harmful when consumed unwisely. To reduce irritation of the throat and lungs, Mikuriya recommends using a water pipe containing flower tops instead of a joint with leaves. This requires fewer puffs and reduces coughing and susceptibility to infection. Along these lines, vaporization is an even better alternative.

In order to prevent adverse mental side effects, you should start by using a small amount and only gradually increase the dosage. While most people do not think about overdosing when they think about marijuana, it is a risk, especially with oral ingestion. Even though oral ingestion is ultimately more intense and longer-lasting than inhalation, it may not start producing effects for two to three hours. This leads some users to take too much while waiting. A single marijuana overdose may not cause death or permanent damage, but it will cause "time distortion, racing thoughts, disorientation, speeding heart rate, dry mouth and reddened eyes."

Finally, marijuana use may simply not be for everyone. Anyone with substance abuse or allergy problems may get more harm than benefit. When marijuana is used, it should be in moderation and in a safe, private place.



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