ST. JOHNâS, N.L. â With recreational cannabis use in full swing, a St. Johnâs doctor has some tips to use it safely this New Yearâs Eve.
Dr. Alia Norman practises at Cannabinoid Medical Clinic in Churchill Square, a referral-based clinic. Norman works mostly with patients who have chronic pain or cancer.
Her day-to-day work involves prescribing medical cannabis, but now that itâs recreationally legal she has two main messages for the public.
One â cannabis is not safe for everybody.
Two â it is potentially addictive and users experience withdrawal symptoms when they quit.
âThereâs a lot of misinformation out there,â she said.
âI want to walk the line between that and the other extreme â the sort of âreefer madnessâ attitude that itâs âterribly addictiveâ or it will cause âdramatic personality changesâ, all of that. Iâm seeing a lot more good than I expected â Iâm also seeing some real negative effects, and the internet is not going to tell you that.â
Can help get patients off multiple drugs
Among the more positive effects Norman has witnessed is the fact that sheâs able to help patients get off multiple drugs by replacing them with one cannabinoid product.
An uncommon but notable negative effect sheâs witnessed is cannabis-triggered psychosis.
âA lot of people will tell me theyâve used cannabis and it makes them paranoid â what they really mean is it made them socially anxious. But you can get out and out paranoia, where you really believe everybody is out to get you, and very rarely that can persist after you get sober.
âWhen people talk about fear of young people using cannabis, theyâre not just talking about the question of does it affect motivation, does it affect grades, but this rare thing called psychosis.â
Norman said the most common time for psychosis to emerge â with and without drugs â is between the ages of 16 and 25.
Norman used to work as a radiation oncologist and in palliative care. From there, she developed an interest in pain and symptom management, which brought her to working with medical cannabis a couple of years ago.
She said patients have become more interested in referrals to her clinic in the years leading up to recreational legalization.
âSince legalization, the biggest change has been supply. So, Newfoundland sold out in two days. That impacted the medical side of it as well. People have always come to my clinic having tried it on their own, but that is happening very, very frequently now.â
The popularity of the drug may mean people will be more likely to encounter it at parties ringing in the new year â the first New Yearâs Eve in which itâs legal.
Tips for safe use
Norman offers the following nine tips to use cannabis safely heading into 2019 and any time: