Though marijuana has been legalized in Colorado and a growing number of other states, it is
important not to jump into partaking too fast. Marijuana, like alcohol, is a substance that affects
all of us in different ways and can make us think, feel, and act differently than we are used to.
To have the best and safest experience possible, here are a few tips for responsible
consumption.

1. Do not smoke and drive!

Drinking and driving causes more than 10,500 deaths each year. Though you may feel up for
driving after smoking, your brain and body are inevitably compromised by THC use. Your vision,
depth perception, reaction time, and overall focus can be impaired by marijuana use. Because
marijuana is not as easy to dose as alcohol, and THC is often present in varying amounts
depending on the product you are using, who made it, how old it is, etc., there is no good rule of
thumb to know when you are still okay to drive. So, it is important to plan not to drive anymore
after smoking no matter how “fine” you feel. Remember: it’s not just your life you risk, its all
those other people on the road too.

2. Start small

If you don’t know how your body handles various marijuana products, make sure you start with
as small a dose as possible. Even if you are accustomed to cannabis, different strains may
contain different amounts of THC, the narcotic component of marijuana, so each new product
you try could surprise you.

3. Legalization only protects LEGALLY produced and sold products

One of the biggest benefits to legalization is the regulation of the products that people may be
using anyways. When you go to a dispensary, you can be assured that your purchase will
adhere to normal standards of safety and sanitation. Any cannabis made and sold on the black
market will not benefit from this regulation. Regardless of the legal status or marijuana, buying
from an unregulated source poses risks of contamination, mold, lacing, and all the other
dangers associated with purchasing and using illegal drugs.

4. Underaged use is inadvisable (and illegal)

Aside from obviously being illegal, marijuana use by minors can affect the development of their
brains. The human brain is thought to continue to develop until age 25 (yes, four years above
the legal drinking and cannabis consumption age). Smoking can impede this development and
stunt mental capabilities of young smokers.

5. Cannabis is still a drug

Remember: just because it is legal doesn’t mean cannabis is without risks. Use your common
sense. If you are on prescription drugs, pregnant, have a history of mental illness, or any other
known health concerns, cannabis may not be right for you. Talk to your doctor to protect your
physical and mental well-being.

Though studies suggest that users will not die directly from a cannabis overdose, you can
certainly smoke, vape, or ingest more than you can comfortably handle. Though cannabis isn’t
addictive in the way that tobacco is, it is shown to have a 9% rate of addiction, and Cannabis
Use Disorder can have disastrous effects on your life, career, relationships, and health. Make
sure you treat cannabis as a drug and use moderation and common sense when you enjoy.