Marijuana is one of the most commonly abused substances among young adults in the United States.
With the recent legalization of marijuana in some states, the accessibility of the drug has made it easier than ever before to obtain and abuse. While marijuana has been previously available in an edible form, legalization has allowed the drug to be packaged and marketed in ways that make it more appealing to young adults. The increased availability of edible marijuana has sparked conversations about the safety of edible marijuana and the risks associated with this particular form of use.
The effects of edibles are linked to the way the drug is ingested, as well as the actual dosage. Edible marijuana effects are delayed by at least 30 minutes compared to smoking the drug (depending on the person). This delay may cause some individuals to become impatient and consume more in order to feel the effects more rapidly. This causes the symptoms to be more pronounced than anticipated and can lead to an overdose.
In addition, edible marijuana has different dosages and portion sizes that can contribute to the effects of the drug. While packages may tell an individual the dosage, it may be difficult for users to control how much they consume. Since packaging is not standardized, the actual amount of THC in edibles can vary from product to product, making it difficult to truly know how much is being consumed. Each individual’s experience with edible marijuana will vary, meaning that a combination of dosage, portion and individual differences can lead to effects one may not have initially anticipated.
Smoking marijuana causes effects within three to 10 minutes of using the drug, whereas consumption of edible marijuana causes peak effects within one to three hours. Edible marijuana also causes the drug to metabolize differently than it does when smoking marijuana. Rather than entering the lungs and affecting the brain, edible marijuana passes through the stomach with other food and potentially other meds, often leading to unanticipated effects. Since it is passed through the stomach and liver, it produces more intense highs than smoking. The drug stays in bodily systems longer as it is processed and can lead to more severe symptoms that are both psychological and physical in nature. Edible marijuana overdoses include symptoms of confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, tachycardia and impaired motor ability.
Edible marijuana is also dangerous in its accessibility to children. Many edibles are brownies, cookies, candy and other treats that look very similar to common snacks. This makes them easy to confuse with regular food and nearly undetectable to onlookers. With the legalization of marijuana, edibles are being found in the hands of children and on school property. Due to this, Colorado has seen an increase in hospital visits for children who have accidentally consumed marijuana-laced edibles.
Many people are interested in edibles because of concerns related to smoking. While many believe this method of consumption is safer, the risks associated with edibles can be just as damaging, if not, worse than smoking. Dosages of THC vary from batch to batch, making each experience with edible marijuana considerably riskier than smoking it.
Regardless of the method of intake, marijuana use can cause a number of adverse effects that may lead to dependency. Despite popular belief, edible marijuana is not a safe alternative to smoking marijuana.