The wild world of weed edibles is vast—and continues to grow. There are gummies, brownies, cookies, hard candies, mints, drinks, capsules, dissolvable tablets, and more. Exploring all these options can be a fun adventure, but edibles can also be intimidating because their effects last so much longer than when cannabis is inhaled. And once you ingest them, there’s no turning back. So here’s what you need to know before diving in. Edibles are touted to have fun and manage some health conditions, particularly pain and sleep issues. And there is some research to suggest they can be helpful.
For example, there is strong evidence that cannabis can help reduce chronic pain symptoms and moderate evidence that it can help alleviate short-term sleep issues associated with some health conditions, according to a comprehensive 2017 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. But those findings don’t address ingestible cannabis specifically or individual products on the market now.
This gap in research is a byproduct of the legal status of cannabis in the U.S. Currently; cannabis is still a Schedule I drug, which is the federal government’s most restrictive category.
Unfortunately, the prohibitionist mindset that keeps cannabis there is the same system that supports a drug war that sends far too many people—particularly Black and brown people—to prison and props up law enforcement systems that perpetuate racist violence. This is one reason it’s crucial to be mindful and intentional about where you spend your money on cannabis products, prioritizing diverse-owned dispensaries and products wherever possible.
But without much guidance, the consumer is left to make many choices about which products to use independently. Even if the product you’re using isn’t ultimately right for you, take this time to be mindful and learn more about how your body reacts to these experiences. Cannabis offers one of those rare opportunities that we can pause and evaluate, she says.
8 Things to Know Before You Try Ingestible Cannabis Products
1. First, determine whether edibles are right for you.
Edible cannabis products are beneficial for some people in managing some health conditions, but they’re not necessarily suitable for everybody. So, first, think about what you want to get out of this cannabis experience and, maybe with the help of your doctor or a specialist, determine whether an edible is the best way to achieve that.
The fact that edibles don’t require smoking can be attractive as well. For people who have compromised lung functioning (maybe due to a condition like COPD), edibles may be “a route that physicians would feel is safer for them.
2. Be aware that cannabis can interfere with some medications.
Products containing cannabis have the potential to interfere with other medications you may be taking. There are certain interactions where using cannabis can increase or decrease the strength of other medications people are taking. Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of studies in this realm. So the bottom line is that if you regularly take medications, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor or a cannabis medicine specialist before using marijuana.
3. Start with a low dose—and take a good look at the product label.
The cardinal rule with cannabis (and especially edibles) is to start low and go slow, meaning to begin with a low dose and wait before taking any more. For people who are new to cannabis or new to edibles, Genester Wilson-King, M.D., an ob-gyn who specializes in the use of medical cannabis in women’s health and vice president of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, says that it’s crucial to start with a low dose—may be even lower than you think.
4. Take your first dose in the evening, just in case.
One of the most common effects of cannabis is to make you feel relaxed and sleepy. That can certainly be a plus for many people, but others want to use cannabis to manage the symptoms of a condition—and still function.
5. Wait at least two hours before taking more.
Here comes the “go slow” part of that golden rule: Edibles notoriously take a while to start working—sometimes up to two hours. If you’re used to consuming cannabis via vaping or smoking, this might be a challenge.
6. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, get a nonmedicated version of your favorite treat.
With so much variety out there, you are sure to find an edible cannabis product that suits your tastes. And that is a good thing, it can also sometimes make it tempting to eat more of that treat (and the THC it contains) than you’re ready for. Plus, the fact that cannabis can increase your appetite makes it even harder to eat just half of the chocolate bar.
7. Try using premade cooking and baking ingredients.
From classic weed brownies to infused alcohol, making your ingestible cannabis at home is a time-honored tradition.
8. Store your edibles safely.
If you’re regularly keeping edibles in your home, you should be sure to store them safely away from kids, pets, or visitors who may not know what’s in them. That might be due to people ingesting them without realizing they contain weed, so they feel high (maybe very high) without knowing why. Or it can happen when people unintentionally take too much, causing mental and physical symptoms, like feelings of anxiety and an increased heart rate.
What Are Edibles?
Edibles are food products that have been infused with marijuana. These products come in a variety of different forms that can include:
- Baked goods
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.
The Risks of Consuming Edibles
- Long-Lasting Effects: The effects of marijuana edibles last much longer than smoking, usually up to several hours depending on the amount of THC consumed, the amount and types of the previous food eaten, and other drugs or alcohol used at the same time.
- Unknown Potency: The amount of THC is challenging to measure and is often unknown in many edibles. In addition, regulations and quality assurance regarding the determination of THC content and product labeling are generally lacking. As a result, the dosage estimation for many edibles is often inaccurate. Consequently, many products contain significantly more THC than labeled, and people who consume these edibles can be caught off-guard by their strength and long-lasting effects.
- Delayed Onset and High Potential for Overdose: Perhaps the most notable 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 more significant than intended amount of drug before it has taken effect.
A marijuana overdose is also referred to as acute marijuana intoxication. It has shown that edibles are the form of marijuana consumption most likely to lead to emergency room visits for marijuana overdose. The authors of at least one study believe that this is due to the failure of users to understand the delayed effects of these products.
- Serious Negative Side Effects: The symptoms associated with eating highly potent edibles are often much more severe than those experienced after smoking marijuana. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, edibles are now associated with “medical complications that we never knew were associated with marijuana.
Some of the more adverse effects associated with the consumption of edibles include:
- Respiratory depression
- Heart problems (ranging from irregular heartbeat to heart attack)
Increased Likelihood to Cause Self-Harm or Hurt Others
Due to edibles’ delayed onset and uncertain potency, many people who use these products may unintentionally consume excessively high amounts of THC. One of the consequences of taking too much of the drug too quickly is that 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. While on a family ski trip, one man shot himself in the head hours after ingesting several marijuana-laced candies. 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.
Another man was recently sentenced to 30 years in prison for the fatal shooting of his wife. Before 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.
Regardless of the form of consumption preferred, whether, by smoking or eating, the use of marijuana can quickly turn into a severe problem. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 3 in 10 marijuana users will continue using the drug despite clinically significant distress or impairment. This condition is known as a marijuana use disorder.
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 a substance abuse rehabilitation center 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.
At We Level Up Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We work as an integrated team providing information about weed edibles and other aspects of treatment. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.
Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.
 NAP Edu – https://www.nap.edu/resource/24625/Cannabis_committee_conclusions.pdf
 Drug Enforcement Administration. (2019). Drug Alert: Marijuana Edibles.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Marijuana: How Can It Affect Your Health?
 National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Is marijuana addictive?