With the legalization of cannabis in Canada, you might be curious about or considering trying pot. Or maybe you are already a person who uses cannabis and you are interested in our country’s changing rules. The perception of the prevalence of use of marijuana is different than reality. According to the University’s 2016 National College Health Assessment survey, 65% of University of Waterloo students surveyed had never tried cannabis. Whatever the case, you should take some time to learn more about cannabis so that you can make an informed decision.
Low-risk use guidelines
The Canadian Research Initiative on Substance Misuse has published a set of Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines (LRCUG) to help you take steps to reduce health risks from using cannabis for recreation, including the following:
- Limiting and reducing how often you use cannabis: The frequency and intensity of how often you use cannabis is linked to a higher risk of health problems including changes in brain development, mental health concerns, dependence, impaired driving, and academic performance. The LRCUG guidelines suggest limiting yourself to occasional use, if at all, up to one day a week at most.
- Don’t use and drive: Cannabis can impair your cognition, attention, and reaction time and increases your risk of being involved in an accident. The guidelines say to wait at least six hours, or more if needed, before driving or operating machinery.
- Delay your age of initial use as long as possible: Studies show that the younger you start to use cannabis the higher the likelihood of developing health or academic problems as a result of your cannabis use. Your brain is still developing until the age of 25.
- Avoid combining cannabis with other substances or risk factors: Combining high-risk behaviours or alcohol can increase or amplify health risks to you.
- If you can, the best way to avoid cannabis health risks is to abstain from using it: If you decide to use cannabis you could experience immediate health effects like inability to focus on your studies, to longer-term risks to your health and well-being. Choosing not to use cannabis will help you avoid these risks.
To read all of the low-risk guidelines, visit camh.ca.
If you are struggling with substance use or addiction, consider making an appointment with a Health Services doctor to talk about your options. Call 519-888-4096 to book an appointment.