January 1st typically marks a day when new laws take effect. This year, Illinois saw recreational marijuana become legal in some parts of its state.
In preparation for the effects of marijuana being more readily available for some users, Mayor Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health announced what they called “Cannabis Facts Chicago,” a public service campaign that includes tips and precautionary information targeted at those who plan on consuming recreational marijuana.
With California having been recreational since late 2016, “Cannabis Facts Chicago” serves as a reminder that, while legal, there are some inherent dangers in marijuana use, including those which might affect someone’s ability to safely operate a vehicle.
Some health and safety tips highlighted are as follows:
- Protect Your Brain: The legal age for purchase and use of cannabis products at licensed dispensaries is 21 years of age, but studies have shown that the brain continues to develop until age 25. Heavy use, especially by young people, may impair brain development, short term memory, and even intelligence.
- Know Your Dose: Cannabis affects everyone differently. With different strains and a much wider array of products available on the market now, it may be difficult to determine the potency of each. Over-consumption can cause any number of symptoms, including but not limited to hallucinations, confusion, poor judgement, panic attacks, nausea, and vomiting. “Go slow and know your limits.”
- Avoid Frequent Use: Daily use, especially in high does, have been associated with and increased risk of psychosis.
- Don’t Consume if Pregnant or Breastfeeding: THC can be transferred to a baby through the placenta or breast milk so there is no safe amount when pregnant or breast feeding.
- Potential for Addiction: Studies have shown that addiction is more likely when cannabis use begins early.
- Don’t Drive While High: Not only are there potential dangers to yourself and others if you drive high, it is also illegal. Even having an open container of cannabis is illegal, even if you are a passenger.
- Keep it Safe: With the market for edibles having grown, cannabis comes in innocuous looking forms like candy or chocolate. Make sure that the only person using your stash is you. Unintentional consumption by children or pets can be dangerous so keep your stash locked and away from their reach. If you think a child has consumed cannabis, contact 911 and the Poison Control immediately.
- Stay away from Synthetic Cannabinoids: Not only are synthetic cannabinoids illegal in the state of Illinois, but they are also considered a health risk. This man-made chemical lacks regulation so products out on the market may not be as reliable as they seem.
According to the press release, “As the City readies rules around possession and consumption, and looks to adopt policies that ensure social equity, it also wants to reduce potential harms and protect youth, who are more susceptible to the negative health consequences of overuse, as their brains and bodies are still developing. In addition to the fact that use of cannabis is illegal for those under 21, it is important for youth and all users to consider that products today are much more potent than in the past.”