Adult cannabis use under safe and normal circumstances can have desirable effects. The goals for many cannabis users include feelings of well-being, mild disorientation, or increased appetite. The THC in cannabis is a psychoactive compound that affects movement, balance, coordination, and judgement so safety is key to enjoying recreational cannabis while avoiding negative outcomes. Driving or operating any kind of heavy machinery while impaired is dangerous, and driving under the influence of any substance is illegal.
Though they may vary widely by individual, some possible adverse effects (or signs of overconsumption) are extreme confusion, paranoia, anxiety or panic, extremely fast heart rate, increased blood pressure, dizziness, nausea, or hallucinations.
Cannabis hyperemesis syndrome is a rare condition that can affect regular and long-term users - particularly those who have been consuming cannabis since adolescence. Anyone who experiences nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain whenever they consume cannabis (in any form) should contact their healthcare provider.
Here are some ways adults can be safe using cannabis.
Buy from licensed dispensaries and understand how to read the label well.
- Understand THC levels and use cannabis products in moderation.
- Be aware that other forms of consumption may take much longer to have an effect than vaping or smoking, and the effects may stick around for longer. For example:
- Smoked cannabis takes effect within a few minutes of inhalation and fades quickly if not re-inhaled
- Vaped cannabis may be the same as smoked, or faster
- Edible cannabis may take 1-2 hours for effect, but can last for several hours
- Know that using cannabis along with alcohol, medicines, other stimulants, and even some foods can impair more than either of them on their own.
- Store cannabis products out of the reach of minors and pets. Locked away is best.
- Keep cannabis and cannabis products in their original packaging so they are easy to identify as containing THC and so potency information is available.
- Do not use cannabis products if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
- Understand there are adverse effects of smoke inhalation from cannabis products.
- Avoid exposing others to secondhand smoke.
- Cannabis containers must be sealed shut in your car.
- Do not operate large machinery – including automobiles – while under the influence of cannabis.
- Do not share your stash with anyone under 21 years old.
- If you think you or someone else may have cannabis poisoning or toxicity, call New Jersey Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 or chat/text at www.njpies.org to connect with a healthcare professional. If the person is unconscious or non-responsive call 911.
- If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to any substance you may get help here: Addiction Services.
Keep Children & Pets Safe
Though typically not dangerous to adults, cannabis products can cause serious harm when accidentally ingested by children and pets. Consider keeping cannabis and cannabis products in a locked box. Additionally, the New Jersey Poison Control Center suggests:
- buying products from licensed dispensaries in original, childproof, resealable packaging. Remember child resistant packaging is NOT childproof but can be an important line of defense – buying a few extra minutes to prevent an accident.
- keeping cannabis and cannabis products out of sight, particularly those might look like food or candy to a child.
- avoiding buying products that are likely to be visually appealing to children.
- teaching children to always stop and ask an adult before eating any goodies around the house.
The signs of accidental ingestion in children may be similar to those in adults - altered consciousness, anxiety, drowsiness, and paranoia. In rare cases however - particularly in the event of ingestion of a large dose - young children may also experience depressed breathing or seizures, which does not typically happen in adult users.