Safer cannabis use

If you choose to use cannabis, learn about how to use it safely, to reduce the chance of having a bad experience.

Cannabis comes from the hemp plant Cannabis Sativa and can be brown, grey or green in colour. The two main chemicals found in cannabis are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

THC is the chemical ingredient that gives the plant its mind-altering effects. CBD is the chemical ingredient that does not produce psychoactive effects, but may offer therapeutic benefits.

Whether cannabis is inhaled or ingested, it eventually enters the blood stream, brain and other organs, which is when an individual begins to feel “high”. The high may cause euphoria/relaxation, laughing, increased appetite and increased heart rate.

Cannabis affects each person differently. Short term effects can include red eyes, laughter, sleepiness, increased hunger, anxiety, paranoia, slowed reaction time, and can affect memory and attention span.

Long term effects can include respiratory problems as well as mental health concerns such as damaged memory, depression, anxiety, and psychosis, especially for those who initiate use at a young age.

Forms and effects of cannabis

Smoking of dried cannabis through joints, spliffs, blunts, bongs or pipes causes an immediate onset of effects that last a few hours. Smoking of any substance, including cannabis, causes harm to lungs.

  • Onset: Seconds
  • Duration: 1 – 5 hours

Vaping of concentrates or juices may be less harmful to lungs but only with reputable cartridges.

  • Onset: Seconds
  • Duration: 1 – 3 hours

Dabbing of waxes, shatter or other concentrates has extremely high amounts of THC and can cause immediate negative effects for those with low tolerance.

  • Onset: Instant
  • Duration: 1 – 3 hours

Eating of cannabis-infused items or edibles takes much longer to onset (up to two hours) and lasts much longer. See below for more on Edibles

  • Onset: 15 minutes – 2 hours
  • Duration: 4 – 6 hours

Topical application onto sore joints or muscles in the form of oils, creams or lotions causes an effect within 20 to 30 minutes and can last around 12 hours.

  • Onset: 20 – 30 minutes
  • Duration: 12 hours

Medical cannabis

Cannabis is used for medical purposes in order to treat or relieve chronic diseases, ailments, or conditions rather than for recreational or spiritual purposes.

Medical cannabis has been prescribed to:

  • Relieve nausea/vomiting associated with chemotherapy
  • Help with poor appetite and weight loss associated with illnesses such as cancer and HIV/AIDS.
  • Provide relief from chronic pain.
  • Treat muscle spasms associated with MS.
  • Help with treatment-resistant epilepsy in children.

Visit Health Canada's website for more information on medical cannabis. 

How to lower your risk

Think about not using cannabis: If you’re under 21, have a history of psychosis, are pregnant or use cannabis as your main method to deal with stress, you should consider not using cannabis.

Occasional use lowers risk: If you choose to use, try to limit use to only on weekends or one day a week.

Lower risk products: Products with high THC may cause more harm. CBD can counteract some of the adverse effects of THC. This means that products with high CBD to THC ratios reduce some of the risks.

Wait six hours before driving: Cannabis can impair your motor coordination, judgement and other driving skills. The recommendation is to wait at least six hours before driving.

One substance at a time: Combining cannabis use with other substances, such as alcohol or prescription drugs, may cause stronger and more unpredictable reactions.

Natural products: Compared with natural products, synthetic cannabis products (K2, Spice) can have unpredictable and in some cases, life-threatening effects.

Smart smoking practices: Taking shallow puffs reduces toxins in the lungs. 95% of the THC in smoke is absorbed in the first few seconds, so there is no need to puff hard or hold your breath.

Reduce exposure to smoke: Cannabis smoke contains tar and toxins that can be harmful to lungs. Vaporizers or edibles reduce the risk to lungs. If you are going to consume edibles, take small amounts or wait at least an hour before taking more.

What to do if you have a bad experience

If you consume too much cannabis, a higher potency than you are used to, or combine cannabis with other drugs, you may experience nausea and/or vomiting, or react with panic, anxiety or paranoia.

If you experience some of these symptoms:

  • find a safe place and sit down,
  • try to relax,
  • talk to someone you trust to remain grounded,
  • hydrate and eat a snack,
  • take a hot shower,
  • remember the effects are temporary, and
  • get medical attention if symptoms are severe.

Laws, rules and expectations

Rules in Saskatchewan

Legal age: 19: You must be at least 19 years old to purchase or consume cannabis in Saskatchewan.

Possession limit: The possession limit is 30 grams per legal-aged individual in a public space. Minors are prohibited from possessing any amount of cannabis, and possession of more than five grams can result in a criminal prosecution for minors.

Care to share? Legal-aged consumers can share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with others who are at least 19 years old.

Where to purchase: Cannabis can only be purchased legally through licensed online and private stores. Selling or buying cannabis from unlicensed and illlicit sellers is still illegal.

Possession and growing at home: There is a four-plant maximum per household. Landlords and condo boards have the right to impose rules prohibiting the possession, use, growth and sale of cannabis in a rental/ condo unit.

Cannabis and driving: In Saskatchewan, there is zero tolerance for driving high. Consumption by a driver or passenger in a vehicle is prohibited.

Cooking with cannabis: Legal-aged consumers can make edible cannabis products, provided that organic solvents (alcohols, acetone, benzene, etc.) are not used.

Public consumption: Consuming cannabis in public places is prohibited to protect public health.

Travelling with cannabis

  • Outside of Canada: It is illegal to take cannabis across the Canadian border. This applies to all countries, whether cannabis is legal there or not.

  • Inside Canada: Provinces and territories have different rules about cannabis use and age limits. Do your research before leaving Saskatchewan.

Cannabis for medical purposes: People who have access to cannabis for medical purposes should be prepared to demonstrate that they are authorized to do so.

Rules at the University of Saskatchewan

The information below is a summarized version of the USask Smoking, Alcohol, and Substance Policy.

Smoking and consuming cannabis is prohibited at the U of S: 

  • Consumption of cannabis is prohibited: on university property, including in buildings, open spaces and vehicles.
  • Cannabis for medical purposes: can be smoked where smoking is allowed, and you should be prepared to demonstrate that you are authorized to do so.

Growing is prohibited at the U of S: Cannabis plants are not permitted to be grown on university grounds or buildings, with the exception of approved research projects.

Don’t come to campus impaired: Students and employees should not be impaired from cannabis when attending scheduled learning activities or while working.

Zero tolerance for safety-sensitive positions: Employees in safety-sensitive positions must refrain from the use of cannabis before and while at work. The university may conduct testing of employees in safety-sensitive positions if there is reasonable cause to believe an employee is impaired at work, not fit for work or if they have been involved in a workplace incident.

If you have an addiction or dependence to cannabis or another substance, you will be supported and accommodated:

  • Students contact: the Student Wellness Centre for counselling and support and Access and Equity Services for academic accommodation.

  • Staff and faculty contact: receive counselling through the Employee and Family Assistance Program and contact Wellness Resources to discuss workplace accommodation.

Edibles Guide - If you Choose to Use

Edibles come in a variety of products such as brownies, gummies, candy, tea, alcoholic drinks, pop, chips, and popcorn to name a few. For more information regarding the smoking, alcohol and substances policy on campus

What is THC?

Cannabis contains multiple chemicals with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) as the most well-known. THC causes the mind altering effects associated with cannabis use. CBD counteracts some of these psychoactive effects and has potential therapeutic effects. To lower the risk of harms associated with THC, it is best to look for a strain that has a high CBD to THC ratio.

What is an Edible?

Rather than smoking cannabis, people have been extracting THC and CBD from cannabis and infusing food and drink for decades. Edibles come in a variety of products such as brownies, gummies, candy, tea, alcoholic drinks, pop, chips, and popcorn to name a few.

But is it Legal?

On October 17, 2019, the production and sale of edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals became legal in Canada under the Cannabis Act, by:

  • provincial and territorial retailers
  • federally licensed sellers of cannabis for medical purposes.

The use of organic solvents (alcohols, benzene, etc.) for extraction purposes is not allowed under provincial or federal laws.

Making edibles at home can be difficult. Incorrect dosing and extracting can lead to adverse effects. If you are making edibles, avoid these seven common mistakes for safer edibles.

Edibles

  • Delayed onset, 15 minutes to 2 hours
  • Longer effects, 4-6 hours (can be up to 24 hours of a large amount is ingested)

Increased heat rate and blood pressureSince edible cannabis take a while to take effect, some people become impatient and take more before the first ingestion has hit its peak. This can cause overconsumption of cannabis leading to more extreme effects and reactions. The symptoms of cannabis overconsumption are varied and can be scary:

  • Increased breathing rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • In extreme cases, psychosis

References

Low-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines

This information has been adapted from the USask Smoking, Alcohol, and Substance Policy and Canada's Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines published by Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Canadian Centre on substance Use and Addiction. 7 Things You need to Know about Edible Cannabis

Government of Canada.  What you need to know about cannabis

Rough, Lisa. 8 Ways to Counteract a Too-Intense Cannabis High. Leafly. 2017. https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/8-ways-to-counteract-a-too-intense-cannabis-high

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