Cannabis and the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, both have an incredible safety profile. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration published a Drug Awareness Warning Network Annual Report, this contains a compilation of all drug deaths that occur in the United States of America. According to SAMHSA, there has never been a death recorded from the use of cannabis.
Even the 1988 DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge, Francis Young’s response to a petition to reschedule cannabis under federal law stated that cannabis in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man and it is far safer than many foods we consume.
Research on the long-term effects of smoking cannabis studied on thousands of users over decades has shown that moderate amounts of cannabis (a joint a day) have no negative effects on lung function, even those who consumed more than 10,000 joints.
Even Aspirin, which is considered a safe medication, has a lethal dose. Cannabis only has an estimated lethal dose; estimated to be 1,500 pounds in 15 minutes, which is physically impossible. The lethal dose cannabis has never been demonstrated, which puts cannabis in a class of its own.
Cannabis is far less addictive and less likely to be abused than many drugs that are used as muscle relaxants, analgesics, and hypnotics. However, cannabis should not be considered a completely harmless substance.
THC has several physiological effects including rapid heart rate and dilation of the blood vessels, both of which could be hazardous for those with pre-existing cardiac conditions. The adverse effects are within the range for most tolerated FDA-approved medications. Who knows, soon cannabis could be covered by Medical insurance.
The Most Dangerous Thing about Cannabis
Most users know that the real danger in the medical use of cannabis is illegality. The illegality imposes anxiety and expense on suffering people; it forces patients to bargain with illicit drug dealers and it exposes them to the threat of criminal prosecution.
Short-Term Effects of Cannabis
The acute effects of cannabis can begin when the drug is first taken if inhaled. If it is ingested as an edible it could take an hour or more. These effects can last between one and three hours, typically lasting longer if the patient has taken the medicine in edible form.
Individual responses vary, it depends on the individual and the situation in which it was taken, inhaled or ingested.
Short-term effects include coughing, wheezing, euphoria, dry mouth, reddening of the eyes, increased appetite, blurred vision, dizziness, headache, delayed motor reactions, sedation and anxiety. Many of the psychoactive effects decrease with prolonged use. In many cases, the side effects are mild, easily tolerated and can be controlled with dose management.
There are rare cases where individuals have consumed large doses of cannabis in food or drink and they experienced acute complications such as anxiety attacks, psychosis, or convulsions.
It is important to remember that most studies finding a causal link between cannabis use and psychosis examined illicit cannabis use, meaning there are no known origins. The levels of THC were unrestricted and there is a possibility of chemical residues, heavy metal or other toxins being present due to a lack of quality assurance.
Long-Term Effect of Cannabis
Legitimate concerns have been raised about the prolonged use of the psychoactive drug, Cannabis. Although cannabis remains a federally prohibited substance and is tightly controlled for medical research purposes, the FDA has approved a cannabidiol (CBD) based epilepsy drug. The DEA is working on rescheduling CBD and the pharmaceutical company responsible for this new medication will be presenting a THC based medication soon.
Based on thousands of years of use and extensive research, we know that cannabis is one of the safest medicines. If you are not familiar with the use of cannabis, you should become familiar with the side effects before you use it so that you can use it effectively.
Increased appetite is a side effect of cannabis, if you are not trying to stimulate appetite, you will want to choose healthy and nourishing foods rather than sweets to prevent unnecessary weight gain.
It is common for patients to feel sleepy after consuming cannabis. If this happens to you, try scheduling your medication around bedtime and avoid situations where you need to be alert. As with any medication that causes drowsiness, do not operate heavy machinery or a motor vehicle until you know how cannabis affects you.
How Cannabis Users Can Stay Safe
Responsible cannabis consumers come from all over the world, they can be contributing members of society. Patients can use cannabis without issue in social settings or at home for relaxation, medical or spiritual purposes.
If cannabis is used in a healthy, balanced and responsible lifestyle, it can have a positive and highly beneficial influence on a life. However, it is important to remember that too much of a good thing isn’t always a great thing.
Cannabis Patients and Users Need to Know:
- For adults, staying mindful about their use and staying out of trouble is important.
- Cannabis is only for adult use.
- Always be aware of your setting; ask yourself if it is an appropriate time and place to use cannabis.
- Know how cannabis affects you and know your limits.
- Do not use it before work or school, unless you have a valid medical reason to do so. Employers have the right to expect their employees not to be high, stoned, or intoxicated on the job, it is only fair to conform to reasonable workplace standards.
- Respect others, and never smoke in designated non-smoking areas.
- It is best to not drive or operate vehicles while impaired.
- If you take other medications, make sure that you are informed about contraindications. Cannabis can have a synergistic effect with other drugs, talk to your doctor about the use and side effects.
- Educate yourself about your rights, laws, health risks, and consequences of using. There are some states where cannabis is allowed for use. However, it is still federally illegal, and penalties can be harsh.
- Do not give cannabis to minors unless there is a valid medical reason. If authorities found an adult contributing to minors, the adult would face serious ramifications.
The Do-Nots of Cannabis (The Best way to avoid trouble)
As previously mentioned, cannabis is federally illegal and even in states where it is legal, there are laws regarding allowable possession amounts, age regulations, and growing regulations. This isn’t a free for all plant, at least not yet.
- Don’t smoke in the car
- Keep it in your trunk in an odor-proof container when you are transporting from the dispensary to your home.
- Don’t sell cannabis without proper licensing
- Penalties for sales are very serious.
- Don’t grow it unless you’re completely legal
- If you are in a state where growing is allowed be sure to stay within the legal limits and keep the plant count as low as possible.
- Don’t smuggle cannabis
- If you were to get caught crossing borders, there would be more serious problems than it is worth.
Benefits of Cannabis
But let’s face it, there are more benefits to cannabis than I could mention; in 2012 a study found that cannabinoids can strengthen immune function, these benefits are not fully understood. Cannabis use can help with arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and it can help with other autoimmune disorders.
Since the goal is to attain the equal rights we deserve, it is important that cannabis users dispel negative myths and stereotypes associated with pot use. If consumers want legal cannabis, they will need to prove that there is a minimum of harmful effects and it has an overall positive influence for users.
Kasey Craig is a Senior Content Writer at MedicareFAQ. She has a wealth of knowledge on the topics of alternative medicine, insurance, travel, money, saving and more. She is working towards getting her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of South Florida. Kasey is passionate about her writing and it reflects through her content.