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Weed Ed | Using ganja responsibly

Published:Sunday | November 25, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Jean Marc examines a ganja sample at a cannabis store in Winnipeg, Canada which has a legal national marijuana marketplace.
A Rastafarian smoking ganja in a pipe.

When a user inhales or consumes the chemical compounds of the ganja plant, a chain of physiological actions begin to take place: a rush of dopamine is released in the brain, resulting in that pleasurable high, your muscles relax, your perception of time slows.

While nothing close to the devil's weed, as it's sometimes portrayed, a user under the psychoactive effect of ganja caused by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) does require a level of maturity to function normally. Side effects such as fear, anxiety and distrust can also accompany the high that ganja users pursue.

Research has also shown that ganja use affects the brain's development, which puts teens and adolescents at risk since the brain continues maturation up until about age 25.

The side effects of ganja require users of the herb to exercise a level of responsibility with how it's consumed, the environment in which its consumed, and its impact on them and others in that specific space and time.

When using ganja, it's important to know the category of the herb you're consuming. Indica-dominated strains usually have a more sedating effect, which can result in sleepiness and delayed reaction times. Such strains are a bad choice if you plan to drive or operate heavy machinery. It would also be counterproductive for morning use if you have responsibilities, such as your job or personal commitments that require focus.

It is also important to be an informed ganja consumer. With the establishment of Jamaica's regulated industry, medical-grade ganja is more accessible through the local herb houses. They can advise on the THC and cannabidiol (CBD) content, as well as the expected effects. Consumers can also research this before making their purchase. is a great online resource that provides detailed information on the most common weed strains available. Understanding the effects you are likely to experience before consumption can better guide your purchasing decisions.

Persons with a history of mental illness in their family are not recommended to use ganja as it can trigger psychosis.




Ganja is best enjoyed when one is relaxed and in a pleasurable environment - such as the beach, the mountains, or with a loved one. Ganja heightens your sense of perception, making an already enjoyable environment more gratifying. On the flip side, if a user is going through a traumatic experience, the effect of ganja can exacerbate this mood and trigger panic and fear.

It is important to know your dosage and how that correlates with your personal limit.

It's easier to know how much ganja you're consuming if it's smoked or vaporised as it's right there in front of you. With edibles, it's less specific. Marijuana that is ingested is also more potent, and the local regulations do not support the sale or consumption of edibles.

The National Council on Drug Abuse reports that there has been an increase in the number of persons, including children, admitted to hospitals due to the consumption of edibles.

It can take anywhere between 30-90 minutes before you feel the effects of ganja edibles . It is recommended that you start off with small quantities and wait up to two hours before consuming more to assess the effects. Ganja should not be consumed in any other form while eating edibles.

A responsible ganja consumer also knows the importance of properly inspecting your buds before purchasing. They should be green, not brown. Brown ganja buds are a sign of oxidised plant material that has been overexposed. Plant material that has any signs of white, furry mould; insects; or a chemical-like smell should be avoided.

Local licensed producers are required to test their ganja buds for mould and fungicide and pesticide residue. However, the majority of Jamaicans are at risk of buying contaminated weed as most purchases are done on the illicit market.

It is also recommended to eat before consuming ganja and to stay hydrated. Smoking ganja can cause a cottonmouth effect, and marijuana is more potent on an empty stomach.

Mixing ganja and alcohol is not recommended as the THC is absorbed faster.

Ganja is not considered to be an addictive substance, but a level of psychological dependence has been observed in long-term users. This is primarily linked to the feel-good chemical dopamine. Consumers, particularly new ones, are encouraged to practise moderation when using ganja.