Ask the Expert: Dr. Melissa Snider-Adler on cannabis facts and myths

With an increasing number of governments legalizing marijuana, many of us are wondering about its potential effects on our health and safety. Chief Medical Review Officer of DriverCheck and board certified addiction medicine physician Dr. Melissa Snider-Adler joined our Ask the Expert webchat earlier this week to answer our users’ questions about cannabis. Dr. Snider-Adler is an assistant professor at Queen’s University Department of Family Medicine educating residents about addiction medicine. She was one of the authors of the 2011 Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program Standards and Clinical Guidelines and continues to work as a peer assessor for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. With her MRO knowledge and her background in addiction medicine, she often works with companies across Canada to develop and update their Alcohol and Drug Testing Programs. Dr. Snider-Adler is also an expert in the field and gives talks to companies, physicians, and the community about workplace substance use and addiction prevention and treatment.

Here are the highlights from our webchat with Dr. Melissa Snider-Adler. For our French users, we ran a similar webchat with psychiatrist Tin Ngo-Minh, which you can access here. Please keep in mind all user participation is anonymous and confidential.

Consuming versus smoking

QUESTION — “Is edible consumption less addictive than smoking cannabis?”

Dr. Melissa Snider-Adler — “Generally, smoking a substance creates a larger potential for substance use disorder. Having said that, it is the effect of the actual substance on the brain that increases the risk of addiction or what we now call substance use disorder. Daily use of cannabis and use starting before the age of 25 years old both increase the risk of a cannabis use disorder.”

THC in CBD oil

QUESTION — “Is there such a thing as zero THC in CBD oil?”

Dr. Melissa Snider-Adler — “CBD oil generally does contain a small amount of THC. Depending on where you are located, many places will necessitate the labelling of THC and CBD on the bottle. However, if CBD oil is not from a legal source, or a regulated source, then they may state “zero THC” when there is less than 1 mg/mL of THC. All of the products that I have seen that state “zero THC” do contain a minimal amount of THC (0.3 mg/mL or 0.9 mg/mL).”

Risk of overdose

QUESTION — “Are there any credible reports of fatal overdosing on cannabis? Unlikely in smoking, but possible with edible products?”

Dr. Melissa Snider-Adler — “The LD50 of THC, which is the lethal dose of a substance, is 1:20,000 – 1:40,000 – meaning that it is exceptionally rare to have a fatal overdose from THC. Having said that, THC does impact blood pressure and heart rate and so someone with an underlying heart disease may have effects of THC on their heart that can be fatal. Driving under the influence can also be fatal (and there is a risk of increase in fatal car crashes with use of THC). There are more negative effects of edibles for many people due to overconsumption (meaning eating too much and then being “hit” with the effects of too much THC).”

Don’t miss our next Ask the Expert session!

If you weren’t able to catch our webchat with Dr. Melissa Snider-Adler, you can always sign into your LifeSpeak account to read the transcript. And be sure to log in January 18 at 12PM EST to chat with Tim Sitt, who will be answering your questions about fitness and exercise. If you don’t have a LifeSpeak account, please have your HR team reach out to us about your company subscribing.

What is Ask the Expert?

Our Ask the Expert sessions allow our users to have regular access to our experts in real time, which allows them to have their pressing questions answered. This opportunity provides our users with practical and easily implemented tips to help them make real changes in their lives. To learn more, don’t hesitate to book a walk-through.