With the gradual legalization of marijuana across the United States, it is now easier than ever to acquire the drug and experiment.
With increased availability comes new methods of using the drug that appeal to a wide array of potential users. Cannabis-infused foods are emerging on the market as an alternative way to experience a marijuana high without smoking the drug. Although edibles have been around for quite some time, the growing acceptance of recreational marijuana use in some states has allowed manufacturers to market their products in new ways that may appeal to a younger audience. This has sparked some controversy regarding the safety of edibles and concerns around the dangers they pose, specifically to impressionable teens and young adults.
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Edible Marijuana: What’s the Difference?
Ingesting marijuana causes a user to experience different effects than when it is smoked. This is due to a variety of factors.
The effects of ingested marijuana are delayed by at least 30 minutes. Due to this delay, some individuals may become impatient and ingest more of the drug in order to feel its effects. When consumed, THC is metabolized by the liver, which causes the high to be more intense. When smoked, THC goes directly to the brain, which causes the effects to become apparent more immediately and diminish more quickly. Since edible marijuana passes through the stomach and other organs, it has the potential to mix with other drugs and substances, leading to unexpected effects. Consumption of marijuana makes it more likely that an individual may experience an overdose.
Edible marijuana’s effects last longer. Rather than passing through the lungs and into the brain, edible marijuana is processed through several organs, causing the drug to remain in the system longer. This tends to produce more intense highs that can have negative side effects including confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, tachycardia, and impaired motor abilities.
The amount of THC in each batch of edibles varies. Each batch of edible marijuana contains different portions and dosages that affect the potency of the drug and its effects on users. While a package may indicate how much THC is in each edible, it can be difficult to determine how much of the drug is actually consumed because the industry is not standardized. This means that the actual amount of THC can vary from product to product, making it impossible to know how much is being consumed. These discrepancies, as well as the subjective nature of a marijuana high, can cause the user to experience effects he or she may not have anticipated.
The Dangers of Edible Marijuana Use
While many people consider edible marijuana to be a safer alternative due to the fact that there is no inhalation of smoke, the lack of regulation regarding the contents of edibles makes every use a gamble. Even different batches of the same product vary in potency. This may cause individuals to use more than the recommended dose. In addition, because these products are often sold as delicious treats and kept in households, it is easier for the drug to fall into the wrong hands. Many edibles look like other common snacks and can be easily confused for something else. This has caused the drugs to be found in the possession of children or on school property. As a result, hospital visits in states with legalized recreational marijuana have increased, particularly for children who have accidentally consumed marijuana-laced edibles.
While edible marijuana may appeal to those who want to experiment with the drug, the risks associated with use make it potentially more dangerous than smoking pot. Although the risks related to smoking marijuana are absent when the drug is consumed, there are many additional risks involved. For many, eating marijuana is appealing because it seems to present a reduced risk; however, it has the potential to create more dangerous immediate side effects than smoking. It is currently unknown how marijuana edibles may interact with other drugs in the system, which can potentially cause adverse, unexpected reactions. In addition, due to disparities in dosages, individuals who consume edible marijuana are at a greater risk for overdose than those who smoke. Coupled with the delayed onset of symptoms, an individual can easily consume an excessive amount of THC in a short period of time.