As cannabis legalization ripples across Canada, some Canadians may be tempted to consume cannabis and get behind the wheel of their car, perhaps thinking a cannabis high won’t disrupt their driving behavior compared to drinking a few beers. But such assumptions can be dangerous, if not lethal.
Dozens of studies have found motor-skills, reaction times and perceptions of stoned drivers were negatively affected by cannabis.
After consuming cannabis, drivers may have slower reaction times and impaired peripheral vision and lane control. In a 2015 study1, researchers found that high THC levels posed “challenges in concentration-based effects interpretation” in relation to driving.
Such studies have noted cannabis use increased the risk of traffic accidents by 30 percent, and “there remains a high risk of accidents under the influence of cannabis, and the evidence indicates that recreational cannabis users should not drive while intoxicated2.”
In Canada, a 2017 Health Canada survey found3 that 39 percent of cannabis users had at some point driven within two hours of consuming cannabis, and half of cannabis users felt the drug affected their driving ability.
We’ve often heard how cannabis consumers claim they drive slower than the legal limit, preferring be more cautious than erratic. There is no evidence to support claims that slow driving contributes to fewer traffic accidents. But it should be noted that cannabis tends to make their users less aggressive with the gas pedal, compared to alcohol users.
What shouldn’t be ignored is how often cannabis is consumed with alcohol, which can be a deadly combination for motorists. A French study on fatal crashes found that drivers who consumed both alcohol and cannabis were 14 times more likely to be found responsible for the crash when compared with sober driving and much higher than those who had used either drug on its own.
A challenge for law enforcement, though, will be testing THC levels in a driver’s bloodstream. There are no universally agreed-upon blood-THC levels at which a driver can be objectively considered “impaired,” since THC is quickly eliminated from the bloodstream, a markedly different trait than alcohol.
When the federal government decides on a saliva-testing technology to administer to drivers, Canada will get a clearer sense of the legal THC limits allowed on the road. But it’s safe to assume that even just a few puffs of a joint or half an edible cookie can influence a driver’s reaction time and perception behind the wheel, and could quickly become a danger to both fellow drivers and pedestrians.
Another issue worth considering relates to the legality of being on the road high on THC. Lawyer Nathan Baker brought up4 the point that unlike alcohol “a person eating a cookie, a chocolate bar or gummy bears at a party may not realize they have consumed THC.”
He went on to write: “Since this drug can affect inhibitions, a person may operate a motor vehicle without appreciating the danger they pose. Courts will have to carefully scrutinize evidence in these cases in order to protect the innocent while still punishing those with a guilty intent.”
Several researchers stress the importance of educating drivers, especially young motorists, about the consequences of driving under the influence of cannabis. A report published in Pediatrics & Child Health5 found that “plans for legalization of recreational use should anticipate the costs of preventive education efforts that present an accurate picture of potential risks for driving. Youth also need to understand risks for dependence, and screening for and treatment of marijuana use disorders is needed.”
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The history of cannabinoids is full of intrigue. For decades now, scientists and researchers of all stripes have marveled at the cannabis plant’s rich chemical tapestry – one loaded with hundreds of properties, from the psychoactive to the analgesic. Where culture and industry have unquestionably failed science is in the simplistic categorization of the plant, and its many concentrates.
The history of tinctures is rich in texture. Humans have been using tinctures since 1000 AD when alcohol was first distilled by the ancient Egyptians. After distilling alcohol became common practice, using the mixture to preserve plants and create plant-based medicine soon followed. For therapeutic reasons, cannabis infusion has over time become one of the most popular tinctures.
Like its precursor, cannabis oil has many faces and a host of applications. In fact, the increasing popularity of cannabis oil can almost certainly be attributed to both the potency and efficacy of the product, but the sheer number of different oils available, and unique ways they can be consumed, which has also greatly increased their popularity.
Insomnia, sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome are but a few of the ills that fall under the category of sleep condition. Though not quick to receive much attention from the healthcare community, the threat associated with sleep conditions – from obesity to cardiovascular disease – is stark.
There is a laundry list of eye conditions – macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, hypertensive retinopathy, uveitis and colour blindness, among others – that affect millions of people globally. Every year, that list becomes more extensive, as even more patients learn to cope with symptoms associated with various eye issues, each with its own set of challenges and treatment options.
Having a working understanding of the myriad accessories available to patients is a good start to being able to properly medicate using cannabis. Equally important to the conversation of what products there are, is knowledge of how to use those accessories. Where some cannabis accessories, like papers, are quite basic, others, like vaporizers, can be a little harder to figure out.
With cannabis concentrates now available in nearly every form, it’s a wonder people still consume whole flowers. The fact is, while products like oils, edibles and tinctures have become increasingly popular over the last number of years, patients continue to unequivocally side with whole flowers as the choice method of medicating with cannabis.
Like accessories, devices can be a nuanced topic in the discussion about how best to incorporate medical cannabis into a therapy. Oftentimes, these products – particularly the traditional tools – don’t come with a user’s manual. Newer products, like oil pens and pre-loaded vape cartridges, have their own set of idiosyncrasies. Understanding the similarities of, and differences between, cannabis devices is a solid starting point to properly medicating with cannabis.
As more people around the world are prescribed (and self-prescribe) cannabis, there is a pressing question deserving of deeper analysis: Is cannabis addictive?
December brings with it a flurry of things to be grateful for: the first snowfalls, the holiday season, time with family and friends, and a reprieve from the hustle and bustle that characterizes most every other month of the year. But for people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, December can also mean the beginning of an annual depression that starts when winter first flexes its icy grip on the human psyche.
Though no products yet exist that will eliminate the unwanted effects of cannabis paranoia, there are certainly cultural tips, adopted as truths, that are reported to be able to help. In case you ever find yourself up against that rare, but scary, menace, we’ve outlined a number of tools you can use.
Homegrow is easily one of the most popular components of the budding cannabis industry. Something of a footnote to the present conversation, growing at home – like homebrewing – is reserved, not for the most skilled aficionados, but for those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and put in a little work. Whether growing cannabis for medical purposes or simply to hone the craft for recreational reasons, the practice does come with a set of pre-requisites.
The decision to adopt cannabis as a treatment option is, like most significant changes in life, very personal. Whether you’ve decided to incorporate medical cannabis into your routine to treat chronic pain, sleep issues, cancer symptoms or social anxiety, you’ve likely done so primarily for one reason: to feel better.
The fact that cannabis has long posed challenges to the people who consume it, even for medical reasons, is a foregone conclusion. What hasn’t changed in the 20 years since the first prescriptions for the drug were issued is the treatment of cannabis by institutions of various types and forms. Despite the liberal approach to cannabis in Canada, the country is no exception to this general rule.
As it has been established, medical cannabis doesn’t need to simply be smoked or baked to be incorporated as part of a healthy routine. There are also concentrates, topicals and edibles on the market that have started to pique the interest of recreational consumers and medical patients. Many of these products have helped to open the door to the full potential of the cannabis plant and its extracts.
Concrete scientific evidence that cannabis can aid or alleviate symptoms associated with specific conditions is still inconclusive for many ailments. But there are a number of areas of research that physicians, clinicians and patients can turn to for firm evidence. One of these is the link between medical cannabis and Crohn’s and Colitis.
Can cannabis cure cancer? To date, there is no scientific evidence to back the theory that cannabis kills cancer cells. In fact, most responsible cannabis professionals – leery of a culture of misinformation – will caution patients to ignore that claim.
There are few experts, if any, on the research and development side of the cannabis conversation that deny the holistic efficacy of THC. Despite there being a common misperception that the most popular and notorious of all the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant is only responsible for a good time, there is a wealth of scientific data that refutes this assertion. In fact, insiders have known – long before medical cannabis became an acceptable adjunct treatment option – that THC has profound therapeutic benefits.
The word homegrow is apt to draw two simultaneous reactions: intrigue and confusion. With more patients and adult-use consumers choosing to grow their own cannabis, there is no shortage of interest in this area. That intrigue, however, is often overshadowed by doubt: how does one even go about growing their own cannabis?
What is glaucoma? One of the leading causes of blindness, the disease is characterized by a progressive degeneration of the optic nerve in the eye. If it isn’t detected early on, glaucoma can serve as the catalyst to a loss of nerve tissue, leading to gradual and irreversible vision loss, or full blindness.
Incorporating cannabis into your daily routine can, unquestionably, come with a set of light challenges. Chief among those is perhaps understanding the lexicon associated with ancillary cannabis products. When getting started with treatment, the difference between a paper and vape, or pipe and bong, may be unclear.
The list of sophisticated new cannabis products lining product shelves of this new space is extensive, and impressive. More often than not, these products serve as a responsible introduction to medical cannabis. Where pipes and bongs have a tendency to lend stereotype to any conversation of cannabis therapy, new delivery methods like oils, edibles and topicals tend to have exactly the opposite effect.
Something of an enigma, cannabis oil is a term that is tossed around loosely, and often misunderstood. Likely because an understanding of cannabis oil is contingent on both the process and product, confusion seems to follow the conversation. For this reason, it’s important that consumers and patients gain a basic knowledge of both before deciding if medicating with oils is an appropriate treatment option.
What is cannabis treatment? Cannabis treatment is the use of the cannabis plant, or any of its components, as a therapeutic agent. Specifically, treatment involves the consumption of all or some of the plant’s matter, cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, to achieve a desired therapeutic result.
Inhaling the vapours of marijuana concentrates as a way to medicate has been in fashion for at least a decade, but advanced hash oil extraction methods have led to a flood of cannabis concentrates with which to medicate.
Cannabis treatment is a moot therapy option without a firm grasp on how to dose. This very fact has perhaps been best illustrated by the fact the medical community, until recently, has shied away from throwing full support behind the plant and its potential. However, as new products develop, and fresh ways of dosing have become available to patients, so too have the means of dosing surfaced. As a result, more and more practitioners have started prescribing cannabis- based concentrates.