Are cannabis edibles as safe as we think?

January 21, 2021

The National Cannabis Survey of Canada reveals that 27% of its respondents who used pot in the previous three months had eaten edibles. They have been found to be the safest and most discreet of all the weed products available in the market.
However, that doesn’t mean that the edibles are any less potent than other marijuana products like the dried buds or the extracts.
But are cannabis edibles really as safe as we think? Read this post to know the answer.

Cannabis edibles – what are they?

Loved by both young and old consumers, marijuana edibles are tasty food items or beverages that are infused with cannabinoids like THC and/or CBD. They come in many forms – gummies, candies, suckers, chocolates, brownies, cookies, sauces, salad dressings, ice creams, teas, coffees, energy drinks and many other truly mouth-watering products. Most edibles have significant amounts of THC, although there are some which contain higher CBD content.

How do the cannabis edibles work on your body?

Before we delve into the question of safety, let’s first understand how marijuana edibles produce their effects on our body and brain. This is radically different from how smoking pot works, though the ultimate effects are in some way similar.

When you smoke pot the cannabinoids (THC and/or CBD) enter the bloodstream quickly through the lungs. As a result, you start to feel the effects almost immediately.

Edibles, on the other hand, work through ingestion. It means the cannabinoids enter the liver and the gastrointestinal tract first and then from there they are absorbed into the bloodstream. It’s why the edibles provide a delayed reaction. You’d have to wait up to 3 hours to feel the kick. But the high feeling you’ll get from the edibles is usually much stronger and lasts longer than smoking.

Cannabis edibles – a healthier way of taking marijuana?

While marijuana has massive medicinal benefits, nobody can deny the damaging effects of smoking to your lungs. The combustion process releases harmful toxic elements and generates excessive heat which is not good for your lungs or throat. Although vaping is a healthier option, it can still take a toll on your lungs.

Cannabis edibles, on the other hand, are completely free from these complications. As they are ingested and the cannabinoids are absorbed through your digestive system, your lungs and throat are not affected. It’s why edibles are considered to be healthier than smoking or vaping in general.

Are cannabis edibles really as safe as we think?

Despite its good reputation, some health experts beg to differ. Edibles come with unique risks. A study from last year has revealed that edibles were responsible for the 10% of weed-related ER visits in Colorado, USA. The delayed effects of edibles can make the consumer vulnerable to a possible overdose.

Lawrence Loh, clinician and public health researcher at the University of Toronto who co-authored the study, explains that “because ingested cannabis needs to be digested prior to absorption, the onset of effects is typically delayed, which might lead someone to consume more than intended early on only to experience symptoms consistent with overconsumption later on.”

Risk for children

The first-time consumers, the report claims, are ‘particularly at risk’. The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction confirms that early consumption of cannabis, regardless of form, can lead to impaired brain development and poor mental health.

Edibles can put children in danger if not stored properly as they look exactly like any sweet treats. As Loh points out, edibles pose a substantial risk to young consumers, who have a very different metabolism than the adults. They are ‘susceptible to overconsumption’.

Risk for the elderlys

The elderly, those aged 65 and above, are also vulnerable when consuming edibles. Last year, Canadian Journal of Cardiology reported that a 70-year old man had a heart attack after enjoying a cannabis lollipop. Seniors and teens are usually advised to consume edibles in moderation for their body to cope up and balance out cannabidiols with their varying metabolic rates.

Weed edibles are not fatal

Although the adverse effects of edibles overconsumption are never fatal, they can be serious enough to require emergency medical attention. For the young ones, overconsumption can induce panic attacks, psychosis, and hyperemesis syndrome – a serious medical condition that causes uncontrollable vomiting.

Older consumers may experience cognitive impairment, heart arrhythmia, and run the risk of collapsing. Loh points out that many of the elderly people “may have other conditions that might place them at risk of overconsumption and other indirectly related health issues.”
When edibles are properly dosed, the possibility of overconsumption is significantly reduced. There are certain acknowledged risks but not to the point where it might cause loss of life.

Proper community awareness about how edibles work can help minimize the risks and bring more awareness to managing the effects. Whenever you are consuming cannabis edibles, don’t forget to check the dosage instructions printed on the package and administer accordingly. It’s always best to start with a low dose and work your way up slowly to a higher dose until you find the right dosage that suits you best.