What U-M students need to know about cannabis to make informed decisions and reduce harm
The national landscape around cannabis use and legalization has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. It is important to note that cannabis possession and use on U-M property continues to be prohibited by U-M policy and federal law. For more information, look at the DPSS website.
While plenty of information on cannabis exists, it is important to find credible sources. Below you will find strategies and suggestions on how to have the safest experience possible. They can be used to mitigate risk among users and non-users. Prevention researchers have yet to determine a safe amount of cannabis use. If you choose to use cannabis, here are some lower-risk guidelines to help you make informed decisions and/or provide information about cannabis consumption. This guide can also serve as a catalyst for conversations with your friends and loved ones.
As you consider these strategies, which one of these works for you? What do you want to try? What is missing?
- Abstinence is the best way to avoid cannabis use-related health effects.
- Choose a lower potency (lower than 10% THC).
- Ask the person you are buying from about the potency. Have an open conversation about your desired effects and they can help you find a product that achieves those outcomes.
- Avoid high-frequency use (daily or near-daily) and set a limit (e.g. smoking once a week or only on weekends).
- While edibles eliminate respiratory risks, bodies take longer to digest and the intended effects might happen more slowly. Use caution when choosing what to consume. For more information, look at this fact sheet from the Los Angeles County Health Department.
- Buy less cannabis at a time.
- Be prepared with reasons to refuse using (exam tomorrow, not interested, health, etc.).
- Plan alternate activities at times when it might be difficult not to use.
- Create a list of things to do when you’re bored or stressed that do not involve alcohol or other drugs (e.g. local parks you want to visit, shows to watch, new recipes to try, etc.)
- Avoid deep or other risky inhalation practices (e.g. breath-holding).
- If you choose to use synthetic cannabis products (sometimes referred to as Spice or K2), make sure it is from a trusted source. Synthetic cannabis is often mixed with other drugs, so use caution. Learn where you can get Naloxone in Ann Arbor.
- Abstain from cannabis-impaired driving. Impairment can last up to 24 hours or more, depending on how much you consume. There is no set standard for driving after using cannabis, so find an alternative to driving, even if you don’t feel any lasting effects.
- Avoid using cannabis with other drugs such as alcohol, which can lead to agitation or paranoia.
- Avoid combining previously mentioned risk behaviors (e.g., high potency and high-frequency use).
Resources and further reading
- Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines (Fischer, et al., 2017).
- Information on lower potency cannabis (Freeman & Winstock, 2015; Hines, 2020).
Questions to consider
How do you consume cannabis/marijuana/weed?
- There are many different ways to consume cannabis including smoking, vaping, eating edibles, and dabbing. Their potency and health effects vary.
How often do you consume?
- Students who use daily/almost daily are at higher risk for mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and cannabis use disorder.
- What would it look like if you set a limit (e.g. once a week or only on weekends)?
When did you start?
- Students who started using substances before age 16 are more vulnerable to mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders.
How do you plan ahead?
- Communicate with friends, set boundaries and limits before using, review potency and ingredients of the product, identify a trusted vendor, think about commitments/responsibilities for the next day, etc.
How do you know you’re using too much?
- Some symptoms of using too much cannabis include difficulty limiting use, repeated or failed attempts to discontinue or reduce the amount used, large amounts of time spent seeking ways to use or recovering from using, cravings or desires to use, continued use despite adverse consequences, etc.
- Additionally, other responsibilities such as work, school, and social activities aren’t priorities compared to the desire to use.
How can you be a critical consumer?
- Review the product ingredients and potency.
- Consider the advertisements.
- How does the advertisement align with your values, lifestyles, and points of view?
- Reflect. How does this company want me to use their service? They’re advertising various benefits. Would this actually work?
- Reflect on the 5 media literacy questions:
- Who created this message?
- What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
- How might different people understand this message differently
- What values, lifestyles, and points of view are represented in or omitted from this message?
- What is the message being sent?
What are some of the positives and negatives of consuming?
- Think about how this shows up for you.
Interested in continuing the conversation?
Sign up for Wellness Coaching at Wolverine Wellness.