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Concerned about your marijuana habit? Wondering if you should cut down but not sure you’re ready to quit yet (or ever?)

Well, there are different schools of thought, and those from the abstinence-only camp don’t think much of harm reduction methods, but if you're not ready or willing to quit completely right now, then maybe harm reduction makes sense for you.

Read on to learn 6 easy harm reduction principles to live by. All minimize your risks, so incorporate any or all that make sense to you (some won’t likely be relevant to your situation).

Marijuana Harm Reduction

According to the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine, 6 key components of marijuana harm reduction are:

1. Don’t start using marijuana until you’re 18 or older.

2. Don’t smoke every day or even almost every day. The more frequently you smoke the more likely you are to develop an abuse or dependency problem. Try to limit your total weekly intake to 5 joints or less (The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction harm reduction guidelines suggest not smoking more than once a week to minimize your risk of addiction and marijuana-associated mental illness).1

3. Do not use tobacco in joints and avoid deep inhales/holding it in. Most of the THC is absorbed within seconds but holding in the smoke substantially increases tar and particulate absorption. Use a vaporizer as a preferable less lung-damaging alternative to bongs, joints or pipes.

4. Don’t drive for 3 or 4 hours after you smoke, or for longer if still feeling it.

5. Don’t use at all if you’re a middle aged or older man with cardiovascular problems, a pregnant woman or if you have a history or family history of psychosis.

6. Get help if you can’t control your marijuana habits.

More Sensible Marijuana Harm Reduction Ideas

  • Use as little as possible to get the desired effect.
  • To avoid illness, be wary of sharing joints or pipes with others. Saliva from other smokers can transmit flu, meningitis, colds and other infections.2
  • If you use a water pipe or bong, be sure to clean it and replace the water frequently, otherwise you risk breeding bacteria and viruses – and then inhaling them.

If you decide to use, make sure you stay in control and try to reduce your risks. If you can’t stay in control and you can’t control the ‘harms’ then think hard about whether pot gives more than it takes, and if it doesn’t, have the courage to get help and get back in control.

Also check out "Marijuana: 20 Practical Tips for Cutting Down"

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Page last updated Nov 24, 2015

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