Like Alcohol, Enjoy Cannabis Responsibly This Holiday Season


“Americans are drinking themselves to death at record rates,” was an alarming Washington Post headline published yesterday.  New federal data shows that alcohol deaths are at a 35-year high. Last year alone, more than 30,700 Americans died from alcohol-induced causes including alcohol poisoning and cirrhosis. Add to that record figure, the number of deaths directly or indirectly caused by alcohol and the quantity is closer to 90,000 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s more than the number of overdoses of prescription painkillers and heroin combined (28,647).

It is disturbing that alcohol, with such high statistics of abuse and overconsumption, is legal across the country while cannabis is not. This blog covers the inequity of regulations regarding medical and adult-use cannabis regularly, but the focus of this post—using cannabis responsibly—is significant as the season of Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s is upon us.

Celebrations with family and friends have started and will continue full tilt for many through the end of the year. State laws define the drinking age and prohibit drinking and driving; many states have educational campaigns warning partygoers who plan to drink alcohol to have a designated driver. Guidelines regarding alcohol consumption are numerous.

Enjoying cannabis is similar. Medical cannabis is legal in 23 states and adult-use cannabis is legal in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia (D.C.). A number of sources—including nonprofits and dispensaries—outline guidelines for responsible cannabis use. Some sources to check out include Green Flower Media, Consume Responsibly, Cannabis Consumers, Leafly, and Harborside Health Center.

The NORML Board of Directors created a statement in 1996 that outlines what “responsible cannabis use” looks like. This is a very good guide. If you’re familiar with them, this is a refresher; if you’ve never seen them, here are the basics. You can see the full statement on the NORML website.

NORML Principles of Responsible Cannabis Use

Adults Only
Cannabis consumption is for adults only. It is irresponsible to provide cannabis to children.

No Driving
The responsible cannabis consumer does not operate a motor vehicle or other dangerous machinery while impaired by cannabis, nor (like other responsible citizens) while impaired by any other substance or condition, including some medicines and fatigue.

Set and Setting
The responsible cannabis user will carefully consider his/her set and setting, regulating use accordingly. (“Set” refers to the consumer’s values, attitudes, experience and personality, and “setting” means the consumer’s physical and social circumstances. )

Resist Abuse
Use of cannabis, to the extent that it impairs health, personal development or achievement, is abuse, to be resisted by responsible cannabis users. (Abuse means harm. Some cannabis use is harmful; most is not. That which is harmful should be discouraged; that which is not, need not be.)

Respect Rights of Others
The responsible cannabis user does not violate the rights of others, observes accepted standards of courtesy and public propriety, and respects the preferences of those who wish to avoid cannabis entirely.

Further, we agree with NORML’s statement, “When cannabis (marijuana) is enjoyed responsibly, subjecting users to harsh criminal and civil penalties provides no public benefit and causes terrible injustices. For reasons of public safety, public health, economics and justice, the prohibition laws should be repealed to the extent that they criminalize responsible cannabis use.”

Happy Holidays from Oaksterdam University and our staff! Enjoy this time with family and friends and celebrate responsibly and safely.


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