Adults: Using is legal, but responsibility is key

Even though cannabis is legal, you’re still responsible for using it safely. Here are some things to know:

Go slow with edibles.

It takes the average person 30 minutes to feel anything at all and up to 2 hours to feel the full effects of the dose. It’s important to pace yourself and wait enough time before taking more. Eating too many edibles too fast may cause you to get too high, and even put you at risk of marijuana poisoning.

Control the effects by eating food beforehand.

Like with alcohol, it’s good to grab a bite before eating an edible. Having a full stomach can help manage the effects of edibles so they don't come too strong or too quick. Waiting to eat until after eating edibles may trigger the reverse effect, as it pushes more marijuana into your system rather than diluting what's already there.

Store all cannabis products safely.

Keep all forms of cannabis in child-resistant packaging and out of the reach of children and pets. Kids who accidentally eat cannabis products may need to go to the emergency room for poisoning. See our Family Section for more information aimed at parents.

Know the risks of vaping.

Scientists don’t know all the health consequences of vaping marijuana, but there have been recent vaping-related illnesses and deaths from vaping both THC and tobacco.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019, more than 2,000 patients experienced lung-related injury after using e-cigarettes or vaping. Of those, more than 80% reported using THC-containing products. None of the illnesses in Illinois were the result of vaping THC-containing products acquired from licensed dispensing establishments.

Additionally, the processes of heating these liquids in vaping devices exposes you to cancer-causing chemicals (like formaldehyde), and toxic metals that can cause brain damage (like lead).

Use in moderation.

Some methods of use, like dabbing, vaping, and eating edibles, can contain higher doses of THC. Read the labels carefully to understand the dosage in each product. While 10mg is the highest amount of THC in one serving, start with less to find the right dosage for you. Go slow if you’re unsure and don’t regularly use.

Buy from a trusted, licensed source.

Cannabis products are not yet regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Reduce your risk of getting something unexpected by buying from established, licensed dispensing organizations with proper packaging, clear labeling, and consistent dosages.

Be careful of exposing others to secondhand smoke. Cannabis smoke contains THC, which can affect others around you. Cannabis smoke may also contain ammonia, hydrocyanic acid, and nitrosamines as well as many of the components of tar. Inhaling secondhand smoke can increase your risk of developing lung problems and can be especially harmful to children and babies.

Don’t drive under the influence.

Driving a vehicle or operating a watercraft after using cannabis is illegal, and while you may think you’re more alert, you’re not. Marijuana intoxication–having high concentrations of THC in your system–can make you feel relaxed, sleepy, and euphoric, but it can also impair your judgement, coordination, and motor skills. In fact, it slows your reaction time and can cause you to lane weave just as much as you would if you were drunk, which can lead to accidents.

Be aware of health risks.

Marijuana use directly affects the brain, specifically parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning, attention, decision making, coordination, emotions and reaction time. Routine marijuana users [text links to] are significantly more likely to develop long-lasting mental disorders, including schizophrenia, than nonusers.

Protect yourself from cannabis use disorder.

According to the CDC cannabis use disorder, approximately 1 in 10 cannabis users develop a cannabis use disorder. That means they can’t stop using, even when it gets in the way of their social life, career achievements, and physical and mental health. If you or someone you know are concerned about having a cannabis use disorder, reach out to the Illinois Helpline for more resources and support.