The health and psychological consequences of cannabis use - chapter 9

THIS DOCUMENT HAS BEEN RESCINDED: Chapter 9.4 Implications for harm reduction.

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9. An overall appraisal of the health and psychological effects of cannabis

9.4 Implications for harm reduction

The simplest health advice to anyone who wishes to avoid the probable acute and chronic adverse health effects of cannabis is to abstain from using the drug. This advice is especially apt for persons with any of the diseases (e.g. cardiovascular) or conditions (e.g. pregnancy) which would make them more vulnerable to the adverse effects of cannabis.

Current cannabis users should be aware of the following risks of using the drug. First, the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident is likely to be increased when cannabis users drive while intoxicated by cannabis. The combination of alcohol and cannabis intoxication will substantially increase this risk. Second, the chronic smoking of cannabis poses significant risks to the respiratory system, apart from any specific effects of THC. Third, the respiratory risks of cannabis smoking are amplified if deep inhalation and breath-holding are used to maximise the absorption of THC in the lungs. This technique greatly increases the delivery and retention of particulate matter and tar. Fourth, daily or near daily use of cannabis is to be avoided, as it has a high risk of producing dependence.