At Home Grow Community, we believe cannabis has positive impact on human health and well-being—it increases creativity, opens minds to new ideas, elevates mood, enhances sensory experiences, relaxes and energizes, relieves chronic pain, and helps treat a myriad of physical and mental health conditions. We also know that cannabis is not without risks: smoking it often can contribute to respiratory illness; frequent use can lead to dependence; driving under its influence is not safe; underage use can affect brain development.  

We encourage everyone who consumes cannabis to do so responsibly.  We’ve read a number of well-considered pieces on what constitutes responsible use, and find that most agree on these five basic principles:

  1. Set personal limits
  2. Use it to enhance life, not escape from it
  3. Respect others
  4. Share only with adults
  5. Avoid driving and power equipment use 

  1. Set personal limits

There is a risk of cannabis dependence if you consume it regularly–studies show roughly 9% of cannabis users are dependent, and while it’s less risky than alcohol (10-15%) and tobacco (24).  At what frequency could you become dependent? That’s something each of us needs to determine. Monitoring your own use—how often, how much and why—will help you avoid problem behavior. An article in Psychology put the need for personal caution well: “Develop sensible cannabis use limits for yourself based on personal, health, situational, and cultural factors. It is important to be objective about your cannabis use and listen to the constructive advice of others.”

  1. Use it to enhance life, not escape from it

Cannabis, when used for the right reasons, enhances health and well-being.  It’s up to each of us to determine if we’re using it to improve our lives, or to escape from problems.  If you’re consuming cannabis to relax, to be more creative, to enhance experiences, to enjoy people’s company, to see the world in a better light, you’re using it well.  If you’re consuming it to tune the world out, to avoid people, to make up for a bad day, a bad job, you’re using it for the wrong reason, and may be on the path to abuse.

  1. Respect others

Cannabis consumption, like alcohol consumption, is a personal choice. It’s OK to offer cannabis to other adults—in some social situations it might be as normal as offering a glass of wine or beer—but you should never pressure others into joining you, or tease them if they do not.  

While it might seem polite to ask non-consumers if it’s Ok to smoke in front of them, second hand smoke is a health risk.  Leafly explains why it is better to smoke somewhere else: “Secondhand exposure to cannabis smoke impairs cardiovascular function at the same level as secondhand tobacco smoke. Breathing secondhand cannabis smoke disrupts the normal functioning of the heart, blood, and vascular systems, and children exposed to secondhand smoke are known to experience higher rates of asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Smoke cannabis in well-ventilated areas and never around children.”

  1. Share only with adults

If you consumer cannabis, and you started as a teen, you might think it OK to turn a blind eye to use by your own children.  Recent research shows why this is a mistake—frequent use by teen can negatively impact brain development and cognitive function.  Better to counsel your kids to wait, or use vary infrequently. NORML explains this well: “Many things and activities are suitable for young people, but others absolutely are not. Children do not drive cars, enter into contracts, or marry, and they must not use drugs. As it is unrealistic to demand lifetime abstinence from cars, contracts and marriage, however, it is unrealistic to expect lifetime abstinence from all intoxicants, including alcohol. Rather, our expectation and hope for young people is that they grow up to be responsible adults. Our obligation to them is to demonstrate what that means.”

  1. Avoid driving & power equipment use

According to NORML, “Although cannabis is said by most experts to be safer than alcohol and many prescription drugs with motorists, responsible cannabis consumers never operate motor vehicles in an impaired condition. Public safety demands not only that impaired drivers be taken off the road, but that objective measures of impairment be developed and used, rather than chemical testing.” This would apply to using other power equipment as well—jet skis, snow mobiles, power boats, lawn mowers.  

How much constitutes impairment varies from person to person.  Unfortunately, when you’re high, you may not a great judge of your condition. To be on the safe side, have a designated driver if plan to get high when you go out.

NORML Definition

These priniciples of responsible use were defined by the Board of Directors of NORML in 1996:

  1. Adults Only
    Cannabis consumption is for adults only. It is irresponsible to provide cannabis to children.
  2. No Driving
    The responsible cannabis consumer does not operate a motor vehicle or other dangerous machinery while impaired by cannabis, nor (like other responsible citizens) while impaired by any other substance or condition, including some medicines and fatigue.

III. Set and Setting
The responsible cannabis user will carefully consider his/her set and setting, regulating use accordingly.

  1. Resist Abuse
    Use of cannabis, to the extent that it impairs health, personal development or achievement, is abuse, to be resisted by responsible cannabis users.
  2. Respect Rights of Others
    The responsible cannabis user does not violate the rights of others, observes accepted standards of courtesy and public propriety, and respects the preferences of those who wish to avoid cannabis entirely.

Sources

NORML

Psychology Today: “The Need to Identify Sensible Marijuana Use” 

Stanton Peele: “Guidelines for Sensible Cannabis Use”

Leafly: “What Are the Effects of Cannabis?”