Princeton Board of Health outlines guidelines for least harmful use of cannabis

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The Princeton Board of Health has called for a proposal to sell cannabis for recreational use through retail cannabis dispensaries in Princeton to be put on hold until plans are in place for increased education and outreach.

The Princeton Board of Health also has recommended adoption of “Least Harmful Cannabis Usage Guidelines” regardless of the presence of retail cannabis dispensaries in town. It is modeled after similar guidelines developed in Canada and based on an article published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

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The recommendations were contained in a pair of resolutions approved by the Princeton Board of Health at its April 12 meeting.

The Princeton Council is considering whether to allow up to three retail cannabis dispensaries to open in Princeton, based on the recommendation of the Princeton Cannabis Task Force. The advisory group has already identified several areas where the retail stores could open their doors.

But first, the Princeton Council wants to hear from residents. The council held a listening session March 29, in which proponents and opponents outlined the reasons for their positions.

Once the two sides had completed their presentations, the Princeton Council opened the meeting for public comment. After three hours’ worth of public comment and the inability to hear from all who sought to comment, the council agreed to hold another listening session, tentatively set for May 17.

The Princeton Board of Health resolution that called for holding off on issuing retail cannabis dispensary licenses acknowledged that the commercial sale of cannabis for recreational use – including delivery to locations within in town – is “imminent.”

The resolution stated that recreational cannabis use is a problem for some members of the community – “especially those most vulnerable to its negative health effects, notably youth; those pregnant; older adults and those with mental health issues, which predispose (them) to higher risk from use.”

The resolution recommended holding off on action to approve the retail sale of cannabis in Princeton “until realistic plans for increased education, outreach, access to acute and non-acute services, and data collection to assess the impact of recreational sale of cannabis” in New Jersey and Princeton is available.

A companion resolution said that a “clear distinction” should be made between medicinal and recreational uses of cannabis, and that claims for the benefits of recreational cannabis should be discouraged and never officially sanctioned.

Since the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission does not offer educational information on the health effects of cannabis use or a hotline for people seeking treatment for acute or chronic health issues associated with its use, Princeton officials should adopt the “Least Harmful Cannabis Usage Guidelines,” the resolution said.

The set of guidelines offers a dozen recommendations, from delaying its use until after late adolescence “to reduce the development-related vulnerabilities for harm,” to the usage of low-potency cannabis products.

The recommendations also advise avoiding smoking it and to rely on other methods of using cannabis in order to avoid pulmonary health problems. If a user does smoke cannabis, deep inhalation should be avoided.

Usage of cannabis should be limited to occasional use. It should not be used on a daily or near daily basis, according to the recommendations.

Anyone who experiences cognitive issues as a result of cannabis use should consider either temporarily suspending its use or switch to less intense cannabis.

Finally, the guidelines acknowledge that frequent cannabis use – especially over longer periods of time – can lead to cannabis use disorder or cannabis dependence that may require treatment.

 

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