Weed Edibles

What Are Weed Edibles?

Weed Edibles are food products that have been infused with marijuana. These products come in a variety of different forms that can include: [1] 

  • Baked goods.
  • Candies
  • Gummies
  • Chocolates
  • Lozenges
  • Beverages

Edibles can be homemade or prepared commercially for dispensaries. When made at home the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana is usually extracted into oil or butter that can be used in cooking or spread directly on food.  Although smoking remains the most prevalent method of marijuana consumption, the ingestion of edibles is quickly becoming a popular way to take the drug. Unfortunately, many people who consume edibles are unaware of the dangers associated with their use.

Weed edibles
Weed Edibles are food products that have been infused with marijuana. These products come in a variety of different forms that can include beverages and cocktails.

Types of Weed Edibles

There has been some concern that the legalization of recreational marijuana may translate to increased use of marijuana in new forms. Marijuana edibles are not new, but a variety of edibles have become available in recent years. Some common types of edibles include:

  • Marijuana baked goods: Marijuana brownies and marijuana cookies are among the most common baked goods, but nearly any baked item can have marijuana.
  • Marijuana chocolate and candies: Chocolates, truffles and hard candies, including lollipops, can have marijuana in them.
  • Marijuana and CBD gummies: Marijuana gummies are popular, as are gummies with CBD.
  • Infused beverages: Cannabis-infused drinks have become popular in recent years. Soda, coffee drinks, juice, sports drinks and flavored or unflavored water can all have marijuana infused into them.
  • Other types of edibles: Ice cream, breath mints and even beef jerky can contain marijuana.

Notably, some marijuana edibles have several servings in them. For example, one bar of marijuana chocolate may have multiple 10 mg servings.

If someone has a low marijuana tolerance and eats an entire bar of chocolate, they may experience unpleasant side effects, like:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Facial flushing
  • Dry mouth
  • Tremor

Importantly, homemade edibles can have highly variable amounts of marijuana and can easily lead to a marijuana overdose.

Dangers of Weed Edibles

Long-Lasting Effects of Weed Edibles

Because of the way edible marijuana is metabolized in the body, it becomes water-soluble, meaning that it can last longer and may have more pronounced effects. This was the case with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who experienced unintentional overconsumption with unpleasant and long-lasting side effects. She wrote an op-ed about her experience. [2] 

Unknown Potency of Weed Edibles

The amount of THC is difficult to measure and is often unknown in many edibles. Regulations and quality assurance regarding the determination of THC content and product labeling are generally lacking, and as a result, the dosage estimation for many edibles is often inaccurate. Consequently, many products contain significantly more THC than labeled, and people who [3] 

Delayed Onset and High Potential for Overdose of Weed Edibles

Perhaps the most prominent difference between smoking marijuana and eating edibles is the delayed onset of effects associated with edibles. Whereas the effects of marijuana usually occur within minutes of smoking, it can take between 30 minutes to 2 hours to experience the effects of edibles. This delay can result in some people consuming a greater than intended amount of drug before it has taken effect. 

A marijuana overdose is also referred to as acute marijuana intoxication. Research has shown that edibles are the form of marijuana consumption most likely to lead to emergency room visits for marijuana overdose, and the authors of at least one study believe that this is due to the failure of users to fully understand the delayed effects of these products.

Unknown Effects on the Brain & Body of Weed Edibles

Many known side effects of smoking marijuana exist, including the possibility of long-term lung damage and changes in mood. However, few studies exist on how edibles may impact brain growth and development, especially in adolescents and teens. Unfortunately, marijuana research in the United States is difficult to pursue due to federal regulations.

Drug Mixing Risks of Weed Edibles

Consuming weed edibles in combination with other drugs, particularly alcohol, is a bad idea. THC may worsen the effects of alcohol, increasing the likelihood that someone will participate in risky behaviors like drunk driving or binge drinking.

Weed Edibles: Marijuana Overdose

Some people who use marijuana can feel some very uncomfortable side effects, especially when using marijuana products with high THC levels. People have reported symptoms such as anxiety and paranoia, and in rare cases, an extreme psychotic reaction (which can include delusions and hallucinations) that can lead them to seek treatment in an emergency room.

While a psychotic reaction can occur following any method of use, emergency room responders have seen an increasing number of cases involving marijuana edibles. Some people (especially preteens and teens) who know very little about weed edibles don’t realize that it takes longer for the body to feel marijuana’s effects when eaten rather than smoked. So they consume more of the weed edibles, trying to get high faster or thinking they haven’t taken enough. In addition, some babies and toddlers have been seriously ill after ingesting marijuana or marijuana edibles left around the house.

weed edibles
Some people (especially preteens and teens) who know very little about weed edibles don’t realize that it takes longer for the body to feel marijuana’s effects when eaten rather than smoked. This encreases the risk of overdosing.

Weed Edibles: Is marijuana Addictive?

Marijuana use can lead to the development of a substance use disorder, a medical illness in which the person is unable to stop using even though it’s causing health and social problems in their life. Severe substance use disorders are also known as addiction. Research suggests that between 9 and 30 percent of those who use marijuana may develop some degree of marijuana use disorder. People who begin using marijuana before age 18 are four to seven times more likely than adults to develop a marijuana use disorder.

Many people who use marijuana long-term and are trying to quit report mild withdrawal symptoms that make quitting difficult. These include:

  • Grouchiness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings

Weed Edibles Side Effects

The symptoms associated with eating highly potent edibles are often much more severe than the symptoms experienced after smoking marijuana. According to Dr. Nora Volkow, the current director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, edibles are now being associated with “medical complications that we never knew were associated with marijuana”.[4] Some of the more adverse effects associated with the consumption of edibles include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Agitation
  • Psychotic episodes
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Impaired motor ability
  • Respiratory depression
  • Heart problems (ranging from irregular heartbeat to heart attack)

Increased Likelihood to Cause Self-Harm or Hurt Others

Due to the delayed onset and uncertain potency of edibles, many people who use these products may unintentionally consume excessively high amounts of THC. One of the consequences of taking in too much of the drug too quickly is users can become violent or unaware of their actions. These individuals may exhibit self-harming behaviors or hurt others while in this state, behaviors that they likely never would have engaged in while sober.  

There have been several tragic incidents caused by unusual and risky behaviors stemming from the consumption of edibles. One man, while on a family ski trip, shot himself in the head hours after ingesting a number of marijuana-laced candies. [5]  Another man, while on a spring break trip with college friends, plummeted to his death after jumping off his 4th-floor hotel room balcony mere hours after consuming a marijuana cookie. [6]  Another man was recently sentenced to 30 years in prison for the fatal shooting of his wife. [7] Prior to her death, the wife had called 911 out of concern for the erratic behavior and hallucinations that her husband was experiencing after eating marijuana-laced candies.

Weed Edibles: Marijuana Addiction Treatment 

Regardless of the form of consumption that is preferred, whether it be by smoking or eating, the use of marijuana can easily turn into a serious problem. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 3 in 10 marijuana users will continue the use of the drug despite clinically significant distress or impairment, a condition that is known as a marijuana use disorder. [8]

Other studies report that at least 1 in 11 people who abuse marijuana will develop an addiction to the drug over time.  If you are suffering from the effects of marijuana abuse or addiction, please know that help is available. Contact We Level Up CA today to learn about the available marijuana addiction programs that can be tailored to meet your specific needs and help you get on the path to sobriety.

Weed Edibles
No medications are currently available to treat marijuana use disorder, but behavioral support has been shown to be effective.

Due to societal pressures, Marijuana can be one of the hardest substances to give up. The increasing social acceptance of Marijuana contributes to this in the same way it contributes to alcoholics not wanting to quit. Many people with an addiction don’t feel they have a problem, and those around them may not see it as a problem either; this does not mean that those same individuals wouldn’t benefit tremendously from Marijuana addiction treatment.

No medications are currently available to treat marijuana use disorder, but behavioral support has been shown to be effective. Examples include therapy and motivational incentives (providing rewards to patients who remain drug-free). Continuing research may lead to new medications that help ease withdrawal symptoms, block the effects of marijuana, and prevent relapse.

There are many people who use Marijuana on a daily basis and have all the traditional symptoms of an addict. These are people who cannot control their use no matter the consequences. Those who receive treatment for a Marijuana addiction are predominantly individuals who have chronically used Marijuana on a daily basis.

Reclaim your life from weed edibles

Weed Addiction is a serious condition that can cause severe health, social and economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up Treatment Center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from the effects of Weed Edibles with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.

Sources

[1] Barrus, D.G., Capogrossi, K.L., Cates, S.C., Gourdet, C.K., Peiper, N.C., Novak, S.P., Lefever, T.W., & Wiley J.L. (2016). Tasty THC: Promises and Challenges of Cannabis Edibles. Methods Report (RTI Press).  (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

[2] Dowd, Maureen. Don’t Harsh Our Mellow, Dude. New York Times, June 3, 2014. 

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Marijuana: How Can It Affect Your Health? (www.cdc.gov)

[4] Science News. (2016). Edibles are tied to more severe health issues than smoking marijuana.

[5] CBS Denver. (2015). Marijuana Edibles Blamed For Keystone Death.

[6] Denver Post. (2014). Man who plunged from Denver balcony ate 6x recommended amount of pot cookies.

[7] Denver Post. (2017). Richard Kirk sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2014 Observatory Park slaying of his wife.

[8] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Is marijuana addictive? (www.drugabuse.gov)