New AGLC campaign encourages Albertans to find their own moderation with cannabis use

In Calgary, emergency room physician Dr. Eddy Lang has one word of advice for people trying to find their own moderation levels — especially new cannabis users: start low and go slow. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)
In Calgary, emergency room physician Dr. Eddy Lang has one word of advice for people trying to find their own moderation levels — especially new cannabis users: start low and go slow. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) has launched a new campaign called "Find Your Own Moderation" which encourages Albertans to learn their limits and use cannabis in a lower-risk way.

In new video campaigns, a group of people use the same amount of the same product of cannabis — and an hour later, all have different reactions.

Eric Baich, director of social responsibility with AGLC, says that's the reality with cannabis use.

"This basically demonstrates that there are many factors that influence a person's experience when using cannabis and that everyone experiences cannabis differently," said Baich.

That includes factors like age, weight, how much they've eaten, the product, its potency and more.

The goal of the campaign?

"To show hopefully that people will look at their own situation and be more informed and understand their own level of moderation when it comes to cannabis use," said Baich.

Dr. Eddy Lang, an emergency room physician, professor and department head for emergency in the Calgary zone, says he sees a lot of patients who suffer side effects from cannabis use — like paranoia, anxiety attacks, loss of consciousness and more.

It's often new cannabis users who come in, and their side effects are typically from taking too much, or taking too high a concentration.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

In some cases, he sees regular cannabis users suffering from cannabis hyperemesis syndrome. A telltale sign of the condition is episodes of uncontrolled vomiting that can be relieved by hot showers.

"I don't think we're seeing any more or any less. Similarly, I don't think we're seeing any more or less poisonings," said Lang. "It's still quite an issue, but it really pales in comparison to the kind of problems we see related to alcohol use, for example."

Lang has one word of advice for people who are trying to find their own moderation levels — especially new cannabis users: start low and go slow.

"If people choose to use cannabis, they should really take a measured approach. Make sure they're surrounded by people who are supportive and can help them out if there are complications that develop."

He says anxiety-related side effects can often be self-managed with careful, slow breathing, having relaxing thoughts and trying to calm down in a dimly-lit room. But if that doesn't work, Lang says that's when he sees patients come into the emergency department.

Back at AGLC, Baich says Albertans with questions about cannabis consumption can visit cannabissense.ca or send the team an email to cannabissense@aglc.ca.