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Alcohol & Other Drugs

Safer Cannabis Use: Marijuana, hash, hash oil

Reduce your risk of lung problems, mental health problems and legal issues

Author: Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research

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You and safer cannabis use

While using cannabis may be safer than using some other drugs, there are things about using cannabis that can be harmful. Here are some things you can do to reduce your risk of harms and bad experiences.

Before you start.

Be sure you trust your source. Cannabis for adult personal use is now legal in Canada. Legal cannabis products are tested for quality in BC, and thus safer to use than cannabis you may get from your dealer or a friend. Avoid using cannabis if contaminants like mold and mildew are visible.

Try a small amount first. Some strains of cannabis may have higher THC content and may have a stronger effect than you were expecting. If you know it’s a stronger strain, you can use less and avoid unnecessary smoke and toxins in your lungs.

When using cannabis.

Be smart. Possessing up to 30 grams of cannabis for your own use is legal in Canada. Cannabis is regulated by the province of BC. You must be 19 or over to purchase, possess or use cannabis or cannabis products. Be sure you know where and when it is safe to use.

Avoid cannabis smoke if possible. Cannabis smoke contains tar and toxins. The safest choice is to use a vaporizer—it delivers the THC in mist form instead of smoke. But they cost a lot of money—$100-700. The second best choice is to smoke it in the form of a joint.

Prevent burns on your lips or fingers. Use a small piece of rolled unbleached cardboard as a filter.

Take shallow puffs, not deep inhalations. About 95% of the THC in the smoke is absorbed in the first few seconds so you don’t need to puff hard or hold your breath.

Leave tobacco out of the mix. Tobacco contains many cancer-causing toxins, so it’s safer to smoke cannabis by itself.

Did you know.

Water bongs are not as safe as joints. Bongs filter out more THC than tars since water tends to absorb THC. This requires you to puff harder, increasing the amount of tar that is inhaled.

Some pipes and bongs give off toxic fumes. If using a bong, avoid those with a plastic bottle, rubber hose or aluminum cone. If using a pipe, make sure it’s made of glass, stainless steel or brass (avoid wood and plastic).

Cannabis and driving.

Stay away from the steering wheel. Cannabis can impair your motor coordination, judgment and other skills related to safe driving. It’s safest to wait three to four hours after using cannabis before driving or operating machinery.

If eating or drinking cannabis.

Take your time. It can be hard to find the right dose when eating cannabis cookies or drinking cannabis tea. You may get much higher for much longer than you wanted to. To prevent this, use a small amount and wait at least one hour to feel the effects before using more.

Things to avoid

Using regularly at an early age. Human brains are not fully developed until early adulthood.

Using cannabis daily or almost daily. Regular habitual use can lead to dependence, meaning you feel you need to use it just to feel normal.

Using cannabis as your main way of having fun or coping with stress. There are healthier ways to enjoy yourself or deal with negative moods.

Using cannabis with alcohol. The effects of cannabis are intensified and may last longer than expected or wanted if you drink alcohol or use other drugs at the same time.

Using cannabis when you are at risk of a mental health problem. Cannabis use may increase the risk of psychotic symptoms for those with a pre-existing vulnerability to psychosis. And, it may worsen the symptoms of psychotic disorders.

Getting help

Self-help tools:

Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service:

604-660-9382 (Greater Vancouver)

For more information on cannabis regulation in BC:

While using cannabis may be safer than using some other drugs, there are things about using cannabis that can be harmful. Here are some things you can do to reduce your risk of harms and bad experiences.

Joint Filters – A Cleaner, Better Tasting Hit

There are many different methods that people can use to gain the benefits from the their cannabis. Some people like to use a bong, in one of many of its various designs and functions. They may process and refine cannabis itself, to extract its oils and trichomes. And of course there are those who prefer the more traditional method of rolling a joint.

There are two types of people that smoke their cannabis using joints, those that smoke unfiltered, and those who use filters – otherwise known as a crutch.

Why Use a Joint Filter/Crutch?

One of the reasons why some people don’t like to use joints to smoke their cannabis is because they’ve found the taste to be less pleasant then that of smoking it via a bong. This has nothing to do with a change in the flavor profile that these methods produce, rather it has to do with loose leaf being inhaled as they take a hit.

Smoking a joint unfiltered does have the inherent risk of flakes or loosely packed cannabis ending up in your mouth, or the back of your throat. Some people find this to be a very unpleasant and bitter tasting experience.

A bong uses the water as a natural filter to remove the very same bitter tasting flakes. So when the smoke is pulled up, there is a much smoker tasting hit. This is where the crutch steps up and offers the same function.

The crutch is made with small gaps in its center. It doesn’t filter the smoke the same way that a cigarette’s filter does. Instead, it physically blocks the small pieces of cannabis from being sucked through when being smoked, while allowing the pure unaltered cannabis smoke to be inhaled.

What Types of Joint Filters/Crutches are There?

The more common filters used by many people are the hand rolled ones. They can be made using strips of filter tip papers or alternatively from the cardboard packaging of a cigarette packet, business cards, greeting cards, or most other forms of thin cardboard.

Personally we advise the use of filter tip papers, as they will be less likely to alter the flavor of the cannabis, tend to be easier to work with, will not begin to break apart the moment any moisture comes into contact with it or stick to your lips.

1) Hand Rolled Filter Tip Papers

One of the world’s most trusted and leading filter tip brand is RAW. They provide the market with filter tip papers of various sizes and grades and are our top pick for recommended brands.

The Classic Filter Tip Strip

These papers are clean, unmarked strips. These strips can be used for the most simplistic of designs by simply rolling it tight to form a coil, or with a little origami, even more elaborate designs.

As they have no predefined creases or fold lines, you can fold one or more papers into many different patterns and designs for the filter’s core. Using one additional sheet that’s separate from the core design, you are able to wrap it around the core’s central piece(s), holding it in place and forming a complete filter.

Perforated Filter Tip Strips

This no fuse strip has predfined fold lines at one end of the paper. Folding these lines back and forth before rolling the strip into a filter, will give you an accordion center filter. This simplistic design, is suitable for most leaf grades, but the spacing may be too large and could allow smaller pieces to be sucked through.

Choosing between the classic strip, or the perforated strip, will largely depend on how finely your stash is chopped. The smaller the spacing the more pieces there are that can be blocked.

Perforated Cone Filter Tip Strips

If a finer filter is required, consider using the Raw’s perforated cone filter tips. Much like the straighter strips, these cone filters also have predefined fold lines that will allow you to fold the appropriate ceases for an accordion core effectively. The hardest part is getting used to rolling on a curve. Once perfected, the cone filter offers a larger opening at one end and a smaller opening at the other. This smaller opening reduces the size of spacing inside the filter, vastly reducing the possibility of flakes being sucked into your mouth.

How to Hand Roll a Filter Tip

Rolling a filter tip by hand is relatively easy. Your first few attempts may come out loose or poorly shaped, but with a little practice you will be able to roll your own filters with ease. If you are unsure as to how to correctly roll your filter tips, we highly recommend that you watch the following video. It clearly shows step by step, how to quickly and easily roll various styles of filters by hand.

2) Pre-rolled Filter Tips

If you are looking for a more convenient filter, or if you have a condition that could make rolling your own filter tips difficult, there is always the option of using pre-rolled tips.

The biggest hurdle that comes with using a pre-made product, is that the spacing may be large enough for small pieces and flakes to be sucked through when drawing back on the joint. This can be overcome by inserting additional filter paper into the spacing.

While this may sound like it defeats the purpose of using a pre-rolled tip, it is still a more viable option for some people, as these additional pieces can be roughly folded and unevenly spaced. Meaning that if someone was to struggle trying to make small folds, they may be able to use strips to make larger folds that can be inserted into there pre-rolled tips.

3) Activated Charcoal Filters

Similar to a pre-rolled filter tip, these nifty little devices are sealed at both ends and filter the smoke as it passes through. To use these filters, place them at one end of you joint before you roll it up, and that’s it. Just make sure to place the filter facing the correct direction.

4) Glass Filter Tips

Unlike other filter tips that are placed inside the joint before it is rolled, the joint is placed into the glass filter tip before it is smoked. Glass filters will allow you to hold onto the joint as it burns low, and helps to prevent your fingers smelling of marijuana.

Not only would a quality glass filter help to prevent small pieces of cannabis from passing through, they also help to remove resin from the smoke, and can also prevent you from inhaling ash as well.

They are value for money as they are reusable, but only if looked after correctly. One large drawback is that they can be hard to clean without the correct cleaning tools, such as brushes and solvents.

They can also be broken relatively easily as well. If you drop them they may brake, crack open, or chip away at the mouth piece. You’ll also need to be careful of where you store and carry them. They could also be broken if something heavy or with hard edges is kept on top of them, or if they are knocked against each other.

Conclusion

The use of a crutch filter will undoubtedly help to improve your experience when smoking a joint. They can improve the quality of the smoke, making it smoother with far less pieces of cannabis debris or ash from getting stuck in your throat, or ruining the flavor profile.

Just be sure to use one that suits your budget. Disposable filter tips are cheaper per unit, but over time you will end up spending more on disposable filters than what it costs to just buy a reusable one.

Additionally, match your filtration needs with the quality of your stash. The finer the mix, the smaller the spacing in your filter needs to be.

Joint Filters – A Cleaner, Better Tasting Hit There are many different methods that people can use to gain the benefits from the their cannabis. Some people like to use a bong, in one of many of ]]>