Cannabis legalization is sweeping the nation. Whatever your stance on this issue, public opinion polls and political trend lines are clear; it’s unlikely the tide will turn back towards prohibition anytime soon. Legal cannabis is now part of life in America.
Cannabis normalization will be a slow and awkward process. Not everyone got the memo that cannabis is no longer the Devil’s Weed. But, increasingly, adults are starting to be more open about their attitudes towards the plant and even their consumption of cannabis.
This transition begs the question: what does normalized cannabis look like? Americans can barely hold their alcohol. What happens when a significant number of people start ingesting THC on a regular basis?
The cannabis experience is quite different from alcohol. Right now we have no frame of reference for cannabis will fit into our culture.
It’s easy to see how cannabis can be a net positive for society — not only medicinally but through responsible recreational use. Early data suggests that legal cannabis leads to a decrease in alcohol consumption. Given the direct links between alcohol and health problems — not to mention alcohol and violence — a significant shift away from alcohol and towards cannabis could lead to a safer, saner society.
But, if cannabis legalization is going to succeed, we need to give some thought to the issue of responsible consumption. This will be an evolutionary process as more American’s have first-hand experience with cannabis (as opposed to the second-rate propaganda of years gone by).
With that being said, here are some early thoughts on responsible cannabis use.
Responsible cannabis consumers are over 21
Unfortunately, decades of cannabis prohibition has also resulted in a prohibition on meaningful scientific research. As a result, there’s a lot we don’t know about cannabis. But, there is one thing most people on both sides of the legalization issue agree on: cannabis very likely has a significant negative impact on developing brains. One of the first things we need to acknowledge is that responsible cannabis use is an adult pursuit. Until we have evidence to the contrary, the only exceptions should be for medical use.
Store cannabis and infused edibles securely
Cannabis is non-toxic. There is no way to die from consuming cannabis. That’s not to say that cannabis is always harmless. For those who aren’t expecting to consume a cannabis-infused cookie, the surprise of ingesting any amount of THC can induce panic, which can lead to any number of undesirable outcomes. Keep your cannabis goodies secure and out of reach of the underage and unsuspecting. And that includes pets! Your dog won’t appreciate an unexpected mega-dose of THC any more than your mother-in-law will. There are quite a few secure cannabis storage options available for responsible consumers. Along these lines, the PAX Era vape pen includes a Bluetooth lock that disables the device when not in use. Once locked, the vape cartridges become unusable. That’s an innovation I hope we see more of in the coming months.
Understand the basics of cannabis dosing and establish your tolerance levels
It’s important to know and understand cannabis dosing — that is, know how your body reacts to a specific amount THC. It’s best to start small — 5 milligrams or less. This is easily accomplished with some low dose edibles like Kiva mints, but you should be aware that the experience you have on edibles is different than the experience you’ll have smoking or vaping. For one, the high will last much longer. Establishing the dose of an inhaled cannabis is quite a bit more challenging. Both oil and herbal cannabis vapes provide a more controlled onset than traditional smoking. And we’re starting to see new vape products like Dosist deliver a consistent and reliable dose per inhale. New cannabis consumers are in for a period of experimentation to determine their optimal dose. Honestly, even “experienced” cannabis consumers can benefit from experimenting with low doses. One of the most problematic legacies of prohibition is that cannabis consumers have no idea how much THC they’ve ingested. We’re just now starting to realize that lower doses produce more desirable results.
Be mindful when mixing alcohol and cannabis
For most people, mixing cannabis and alcohol is a terrible idea. Especially anyone who is inexperienced and unclear about cannabis dosing. It’s not uncommon for new users to try an edible, then have a few drinks while they wait for it to kick in. Unfortunately, cannabis multiplies the effects of the alcohol. You won’t necessarily feel more high, but you will almost certainly feel more drunk. Unless you plan to pass out on the sofa while watching Netflix, you probably want to avoid drinking while consuming until you have a good understanding of how your body responds to THC.
Don’t consume cannabis and drive
Unless you are the reincarnation of Hunter S. Thompson, don’t even think about driving after consuming cannabis. And even if you’ve somehow consumed enough to believe you are the re-incarnation of HST, you should probably let your lawyer do the driving (that’s what he would do). This is why Uber and Lyft exist. Don’t consume and drive.
What do you think? What is your definition of responsible cannabis use?