Le­gal does not mean safe: Health unit is­sues warn­ing about cannabis

The Glengarry News - - News -

Le­gal doesn’t mean safe. No drug is with­out risk. The eas­i­est way to avoid any po­ten­tial harm from non-medic­i­nal, or “recre­ational,” cannabis is to sim­ply avoid us­ing it.

The Eastern On­tario Health Unit ad­vises that any­one who does con­sume cannabis should fol­low Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guide­lines, con­sider us­ing lower strength THC con­cen­tra­tion cannabis prod­ucts, and con­sume less fre­quently. If you feel you may have an is­sue with cannabis addiction, con­sult your health care provider. It’s also im­por­tant to con­sult your health care provider if you’re con­sid­er­ing us­ing cannabis for med­i­cal rea­sons.

Men­tal health and addiction

Cannabis can af­fect your men­tal health and in­crease your risk of se­vere prob­lems like psy­chosis, schizophre­nia and addiction. Peo­ple with a per­sonal or fam­ily his­tory of men­tal health prob­lems are at greater risk of cannabis-re­lated men­tal health prob­lems. Ado­les­cents and young adults (un­der age 25) with a per­sonal or fam­ily his­tory of men­tal health prob­lems are at an even greater risk.

Driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of cannabis

Cannabis use re­duces your abil­ity to drive safely with neg­a­tive im­pacts on re­ac­tion time, co­or­di­na­tion, at­ten­tion and de­ci­sion­mak­ing. These ef­fects can start within min­utes after in­hal­ing cannabis and last for up to 10 hours if you con­sumed an ed­i­ble. How­ever, many other fac­tors im­pact how cannabis can af­fect you. In gen­eral, it’s best to avoid driv­ing after us­ing cannabis.

Ado­les­cents and young adults

It is best to avoid cannabis use un­til age 25 or older. Im­por­tant brain de­vel­op­ment oc­curs un­til the mid-20s and cannabis use can af­fect this de­vel­op­ment. Ear­lier and fre­quent use of cannabis in­creases your risk, but even oc­ca­sional use can cause prob­lems. These prob­lems in­clude dif­fi­cul­ties with mem­ory, think­ing, at­ten­tion span, men­tal health prob­lems and addiction. For those who choose to con­sume cannabis be­fore the age of 25, de­lay­ing use un­til a later age is rec­om­mended.

Ed­i­bles

Ed­i­ble cannabis can take 30 min­utes to two hours to take ef­fect. Be­cause of this de­layed ef­fect, there’s a risk of over­con­sump­tion or poi­son­ing. To re­duce your risk, be­gin with a small amount and wait one hour be­fore de­cid­ing whether to take more.

Un­in­ten­tional con­sump­tion (chil­dren and pets)

Store cannabis prod­ucts in chil­dresis­tant pack­ag­ing, in a locked area out of sight and reach. Chil­dren can eas­ily ac­ci­den­tally eat cannabis prod­ucts es­pe­cially if they’re in an ed­i­ble form (for ex­am­ple, brown­ies or baked goods). Fol­low­ing le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis in Colorado, the num­ber of chil­dren who needed to be seen in an emer­gency de­part­ment after ac­ci­den­tally eat­ing cannabis al­most dou­bled.

Phys­i­cal health

Cannabis is not harm­less. In­di­vid­ual re­sponses to the drug dif­fer. Ef­fects can in­clude: in­creased ap­petite, in­creased heart rate, de­creased blood pres­sure, de­creased abil­ity to main­tain bal­ance and sta­bil­ity, poor mem­ory, difficulty think­ing, dis­torted per­cep­tions (sights, sounds, time, touch), drowsi­ness or rest­less­ness, anx­i­ety, red eyes, dry mouth and throat and ir­ri­tated res­pi­ra­tory sys­tem (from smok­ing).

Pre­na­tal health

Cannabis should not be used dur­ing preg­nancy and is not rec­om­mended to treat morn­ing sick­ness. Cannabis use dur­ing preg- nancy ex­poses the baby to cannabis and other chem­i­cals from the mother’s blood. Smok­ing cannabis also re­duces the amount of oxy­gen a baby gets, which can lead to smaller ba­bies. Cannabis use dur­ing preg­nancy has also been associated with de­vel­op­men­tal prob­lems in chil­dren and ado­les­cents, in­clud­ing de­creases in mem­ory, rea­son­ing and prob­lem­solv­ing skills, and in­creased risk for fu­ture sub­stance use.

Avoid smok­ing or vapour­iz­ing cannabis in­doors or around chil­dren. Cannabis smoke and vapour can ex­pose chil­dren to THC and tox­ins. This smoke could harm the lungs of in­fants and chil­dren and af­fect their alert­ness, un­der­stand­ing and judg­ment.

Cannabis should be avoided if breast­feed­ing. THC from cannabis passes into breast milk for a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time after con­sump­tion and could af­fect the baby’s de­vel­op­ment. Breast-feed­ing par­ents should con­sult their health­care provider re­gard­ing the known ben­e­fits of breast­feed­ing ver­sus the po­ten­tial risks of ex­po­sure to cannabis on in­fant de­vel­op­ment.

Precon­cep­tion health

Those think­ing of be­com­ing preg­nant should avoid cannabis. Cannabis use may af­fect the abil­ity to be­come preg­nant. Heavy cannabis use has been linked to changes in men­strual cy­cles in women, and lower sperm qual­ity in men.

Par­ents and care­givers

Avoid us­ing cannabis while par­ent­ing or car­ing for oth­ers. Cannabis use may af­fect how par­ents in­ter­act with their chil­dren, and low­ers their abil­ity to make good de­ci­sions and at­tend to their chil­dren’s needs. The ef­fects of cannabis can last for sev­eral hours. If you plan on us­ing, en­sure to al­ways have a sober care­giver for your baby, child or other de­pen­dent.

Per­sonal cul­ti­va­tion

Cul­ti­vat­ing cannabis can have risks. Opt­ing for the On­tario Cannabis Store on­line or le­git­i­mate re­tail­ers in per­son of­fers a safe method for con­sumers to ac­cess a care­fully con­trolled prod­uct. Fed­er­ally licensed pro­duc­ers of­fer a safe method for On­tar­i­ans to ac­cess cannabis for med­i­cal pur­poses.

If grow­ing cannabis, make sure chil­dren and an­i­mals do not have con­tact with or ac­cess to grow­ing plants (fenced area out­doors; locked room in­doors).

Con­trol child and pet ex­po­sure to the ar­eas of the home where plant parts are pro­cessed (of­ten the kitchen), and where waste ma­te­ri­als have been dis­carded. If grow­ing in­doors, bi­o­log­i­cal haz­ards (like mould) can oc­cur. Ma­ture cannabis plants in­crease in­door hu­mid­ity 5 to 7 times more than reg­u­lar house plants.

Chem­i­cal and light­ing haz­ards also pose health and safety risks.

Main­tain rel­a­tive hu­mid­ity be­low 65% in in­door grow­ing spa­ces.

Be­ware of mould

Dis­pose of mouldy plants im­me­di­ately, and in a way that does not al­low un­suit­able ma­te­rial to be re­pro­cessed. Vacuum rather than sweep. Use small-scale air clean­ers/ven­ti­la­tion.

In­stall CO mon­i­tors with au­di­ble alarms. Do not use space heaters or gen­er­a­tors in­doors.

Choose pes­ti­cides that are non-per­sis­tent and have low volatil­ity. Wear proper per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment when ap­ply­ing pes­ti­cides.

Al­ways op­er­ate lamps with a com­pat­i­ble bal­last, rated fix­ture (open/closed, wattage), and socket.

Choose LED light­ing sys­tems to re­duce en­ergy us­age and heat out­put.

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