Edibles are food products typically made with highly-concentrated cannabis or infused with marijuana. Edibles come in a variety of forms including baked goods, chocolates, gummies, candies or even beverages. They can be made at home or prepared by a commercial kitchen or dispensary for distribution. When edibles are made, tetrahydrocannabinol (an active ingredient in marijuana) is extracted and infused into oil or butter for cooking.
Although smoking is the most popular method of using marijuana, consuming edibles is quickly increasing in popularity. Unfortunately, many people are not aware of the significant dangers and health risks that are present in marijuana edibles.
Increased Risks Associated with Edibles
Smoking marijuana comes with its own risks, but even those who smoke the drug may not be prepared for the heightened effects of edibles. Here are some unique ways edibles affect the user.
The potency of edibles is difficult to measure. Regulations for the labeling and manufacturing of edibles are moderate at best. It is hard to determine the true amount of THC in an edible and dosage estimates are therefore imprecise. Thus, you may not know how much THC you are actually consuming.
While the effects of smoking marijuana typically last up to three hours, the effects of edibles can last much longer, depending on the amount consumed. Edibles may impact users for several hours and this is heightened if marijuana is consumed with other drugs or alcohol.
One of the main differences between smoking marijuana and consuming edibles is the time it takes for the effects of edibles to appear. While you will often feel the effects of smoking marijuana within minutes, it can take from 30 minutes to two hours for the onset of edible effects. Consequently, it is easy to consume a large number of edibles without feeling the full effects, making overdosing a real concern.
Side Effects of Marijuana Edibles
There are many health consequences associated with editing edibles. In fact, health issues can be even worse with edibles than with smoking marijuana. The following symptoms are possible side effects of marijuana edibles:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Impaired motor ability
- Psychotic episodes
- Respiratory depression
- Heart problems
Research shows that heart issues are more prevalent in eating edibles than with smoking marijuana. A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that 8% of emergency room visitors who had consumed edibles had heart symptoms such as irregular heartbeats compared to just 3% of marijuana smokers who visited the ER. Consuming edibles was also more likely to lead to short-term psychiatric conditions such as anxiety when compared with smoking the drug.
When To Seek Help for Marijuana Use
While consuming edibles may seem like a harmless way to release stress, it is actually much more dangerous than you may realize. There are many health consequences of consuming edibles. Marijuana dependency is a risk as well. Addiction to marijuana is known as cannabis use disorder. Just like you can become addicted to marijuana from smoking, you can become addicted to edibles as well.
If you find that you are using marijuana despite negative physical or psychological effects, it’s time to take a closer look at how this drug use fits into your life. It could be that you are using marijuana to alleviate boredom, stress, and other negative emotions, or to cope with problems in life. If this is the case, then counseling could be beneficial.
Health benefits of edibles
Edible cannabis products typically provide the same benefits as other forms of cannabis. People ingest them to achieve certain effects, such as relaxation, or to treat medical conditions, such as chronic pain.
The effects of edibles depend on the dose a person takes. Typically, the effects increase as the dose increases. However, consuming too much cannabis through edibles is easy to do, and it can cause adverse effects, such as nausea and vomiting.
Some of the beneficial effects of cannabis edibles include:
Relaxation and anxiety relief
Cannabis contains a compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC is the chemical responsible for the psychoactive effects of edibles and other forms of cannabis. An older study suggests that THC can cause feelings of relaxation and euphoria.
Cannabis also contains the compound cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has anti-anxiety effects.
A 2019 study reports that more than 79% of people with anxiety or sleep problems who took CBD experienced a decrease in anxiety over the course of the study. Scientists need more studies, but this shows significant hope.
A further study on teenagers with social anxiety supports the findings of CBD significantly decreasing anxiety levels.
CBD may also work as a pain reliever, as well as having anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it a popular treatment among those who experience chronic pain.
Research suggests that medical cannabis patients with chronic pain report improved pain management when they consume cannabis products.
Conditions that people treat with edibles and other forms of medicinal cannabis include:
- cancer pain
- neuropathic pain
Muscle spasm control
Doctors may also recommend medicinal cannabis for muscle spasm treatment.
ResearchTrusted Source from 2013 indicates that people experience significant improvement in muscle spasticity and other types of pain when they take cannabis.
An oral preparation derived from cannabis is available to treat muscle spasticity and pain. Other forms of edibles may have similar effects, although research in this area is lacking.
CBD has also demonstrated antiseizure effects, which suggests it could be a potential treatment for epilepsy.
A 2017 study cites evidence for the use of CBD to improve seizure control in those with specific epilepsy syndromes.
Edibles may be one way to ingest cannabis to reduce seizures. However, more research is necessary before people with epilepsy consider treating the condition with cannabis.