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Whether you’ve been indulging for years or are ready to see what all the fuss is about, here are a few important things all users should understand about cannabis.

Safety

Driving under the influence of drugs like cannabis is illegal, just like driving drunk. Even if you think you know your limits, research shows cannabis negatively affects reaction times, judgment and concentration. Young people in particular are more likely to drive after using cannabis than drinking, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction. Bottom line: don’t drive high.

Pay attention to how you feel after using cannabis. If you start to feel paranoid, panicky or nauseous, or notice your heart rate increasing, you may have used too much. Until you have a better understanding of how different types, strains and quantities of cannabis affect you, start low and go slow. It’s also a good idea to limit yourself to occasional use and choose products with lower amounts of THC. People who consume daily, or consistently choose high potency strains put themselves at risk of developing dependencies.

Finally, be aware of how cannabis can aggravate health conditions. If you’re pregnant (or think there may be a possibility you are), don’t use cannabis – the chemicals found in cannabis can be harmful to your unborn baby, plus THC is carried in breastmilk. Additionally, if you or someone in your family has a history of mental health problems including schizophrenia, psychosis or substance abuse disorders, play it safe and avoid cannabis altogether.

Usage Guidelines

Cannabis is best used on its own. Mixing it with alcohol can be dangerous as using the two together significantly increases the impairment rate than if you used each product alone. You could think of it as 1 + 1 = 3.

Smoking cannabis alongside tobacco increases the risk of nicotine addiction and mixing with other drugs can have adverse effects.

Unsurprisingly, getting high at work is not recommended. Your impairment can endanger yourself, your co-workers and negatively affect your job performance.

It’s recommended you talk to your health care practitioner before you try cannabis, particularly if you are on other medications. You can also call the Medication & Herbal Advice Line at 1-800-332-1414 for confidential information about how different drugs interact with cannabis.