Tips for Cannabis Users

From the wall of a Dutch Cannabis Cafe.

Cannabis (marijuana and hashish) has been used in many cultures for centuries. For most people, using cannabis makes them feel cheerful and relaxed, with the effects lasting for two to four hours. But some people have an unpleasant experience in extreme cases, even psychotic episodes.

Like all recreational drugs, it is possible to misuse cannabis. You can become dependent on cannabis. The more you use, the more your body becomes used to the drug, so that over time the same dosage has less effect. We offer these tips to encourage sensible cannabis use.

  • There are big differences between different types of cannabis. Some are stronger than others because the level of THC. This active ingredient can vary significantly. Treat cannabis with respect. If you, are a new user, do not use too much. If you are an experienced user, do not use too much either.

  • Mixing cannabis with alcohol will usually heighten the effect of both drugs, increasing the chances that you will have an unpleasant experience (e.g. “spinning out”, nausea, etc). It is better to avoid using alcohol and other drugs when you use cannabis.

  • Like tobacco, when cannabis is burnt, it releases substances (tar and carbon monoxide) which are bad for your health. Mixing cannabis with tobacco adds to the damage to your lungs.

  • Using cannabis in food (like cookies) avoids the problems of smoking, but there are other concerns. If you eat cannabis it will take longer for the effects to come on sometimes an hour or more, compared to a few minutes if you smoke it. And the effects will be more long lasting. Be patient. Do not be tempted to have another cookie. When you realise that you have had too much, it will be too late.

  • If you take prescription or other medicine, you should ask a doctor whether it is safe to also use cannabis.

  • It is advisable not to use cannabis when you are pregnant. The evidence is inconclusive, but cannabis smoking may contribute to low birth weight and birth defects.

  • Cannabis affects your power of concentration. Do not use it at school, at work or before you drive or use machinery.

  • If you have a bad reaction to cannabis, the good news is that it will probably pass fairly quickly. Don’t panic. Find a quiet place to sit or lie down. Eat or drink something sweet. Avoid stimulation like music or loud conversations.

  • Cannabis will not solve your problems for you. If you are depressed or anxious or unhappy, cannabis will probably not make you feel any better. It might distract you for a short time, or it might not.

  • Like all drugs, the more you use cannabis, the more tolerant your body will become. Keeping your dose low will mean that you will get the same buzz from small quantities. If you are a regular user, it is advisable to have some breaks from use (e.g. to not use cannabis at least on two or three days a week).