What is Edible Cannabis?

Edible Cannabis products ("edibles" for short) has grown in popularity in recent years. Edibles are Cannabis-infused food and beverage products that usually contain THC or CBD, the two most well-known cannabinoids found in the Cannabis plant.

The legal age for recreational Cannabis consumption (including edibles), is 21, and it is only legal is
some states. It's illegal for people under 21 to buy, have or use retail Cannabis, including edibles. It's a felony for anyone to give or sell to, or share Cannabis with, anyone under 21.

Cannabis-infused baked goods, gummies, candy, chocolate bars, and even beverages are all types edibles. They provide an alternative to smoking or vaping Cannabis, which can be damaging to the lungs. Edibles are frequently preferred by those seeking a more discreet and long-lasting experience (the effects can last up to 12 hours, with residual effects lasting up to 24 hours). The effects are long-lasting because it takes a long time for your body to absorb the THC from edible Cannabis in the intestines and so the THC is present in your body for longer than after smoking or vaping Cannabis.

Chocolates and brownies with Cannabis in them look like chocolates and brownies without Cannabis 
in them. So, they appeal to both adults and children. In fact, unintentional ingestion of edible Cannabis by children and pets is more common than you might think - - and can lead to severe health problems.

Negative Side Effects

One advantage of edibles is that they are easy to consume and, when purchased from a legitimate dispensary, come in pre-measured doses, allowing users to better control their intake. It should be noted, however, that edibles can take longer to take effect than other forms of Cannabis consumption. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to feel the effects of edibles, making it easy to consume too much and have an unpleasant experience.

For some people, the effects of edibles can feel more intense than inhaling a similar dose of 
dried ("flower") Cannabis. This intensity is partly because when you ingest THC, your liver breaks it down and turns it into a stronger form.

Too much Cannabis in the form of edibles can cause a variety of negative side effects, including impaired coordination, anxiety, paranoia, and, in extreme cases, hallucinations. It is critical to begin with a low dose (no more than 2.5 mg of THC) and wait for the effects to take effect before increasing the dose. (Also read: How does Cannabis use impact brain development). 

Did you know that alcohol significantly increases the intoxicating and impairing effects of Cannabis?
 Cannabis over-intoxication can include symptoms of anxiety, panic, nausea, vomiting and paranoia. To reduce the risk of these negative experiences, stick to either Cannabis or alcohol, not both. Also, avoid mixing cannabis with nicotine or any intoxicating substance, including stimulants (“uppers”) and depressants (“downers”), as the mix can cause serious health complications. If you are taking or planning to take prescription medications at the same time as edibles, it is important to speak to a healthcare practitioner about whether Cannabis interferes with them.

To Summarize

Edibles are a popular Cannabis consumption method that provides an alternative to smoking or vaping Cannabis. Sale and consumption of edibles differs by state; where legal, consumers must be a minimum of 21 years of age.

While edibles are simple to use and come in pre-measured doses, it is critical to begin with a low dose (no more than 2.5mg of THC at a time) and be aware of the onset and duration of the effects. Before using any Cannabis products, including edibles, for medical purposes, it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional. It is also important to remember that edibles look like non-edibles, so be mindful of storage and safety.

If you or someone you know 
has consumed too much Cannabis and is not feeling well, contact your local poison center or seek medical attention.

Want to learn more about Cannabis? Check out our Cannabis education course for Youth!

1. Marijuana Fact check, Edibles: https://www.mjfactcheck.org/edibles
2. Veriheal, The Pros and Cons of Edible Marijuana vs. Smoking: https://www.veriheal.com/blog/edibles/pros-cons/
3. Center of Disease control and prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/health-effects/poisoning.html#:~:text=Edibles%2C%20or%20food%20and%20drink,poisoning%20and%2For%20serious%20injury.
The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.