Exactly a year after legalization, edibles are no longer banned in Canada. For many, this means a slew of options that eluded consumers since October 2018. Individuals seeking therapeutic benefits without smoking will make up a huge portion of the customer base.
But with a prolific grey market offering its own line of powerful edibles and wide array of options for experienced recreational users, legal retailers have their work cut out for them.
We covered multiple stories in the past regarding edible poisonings in children and adults, thanks to a lack of knowledge and poor judgment when consuming or storing these illegal products.
Although illegal edibles are highly potent, this does not mean that their legal counterparts do not pose some degree of risk to newcomers.
To shed some more light on the topic, CTV News sat down with Dr. Amy Porath. Porath, who is the director of research at the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, has some key points to discuss, especially for those with little to no experience.
Smoking may be hard on the lungs and throat, but it is the best option for quick onset. Edibles, on the other hand, take time. In fact, it can take up to six hours before users feel any effects – although it is typically more in the range of 30 minutes to four hours.
The exact time varies due to factors such as potency, stomach contents or even the type of food consumed prior to using the edibles.
“…it takes a lot longer for people to experience [the intoxication]. And that’s because the product has to go through the digestive system,” she said. One of the biggest mistakes people can make is to accidentally consume too much and experience a stronger, unpleasant and unintended high.”
Also known as “greening out,” this experience typically involves symptoms like severe dizziness, nausea and uncontrollable vomiting.
To date, nobody has died from a THC overdose, but that does not mean the symptoms it brings cannot be dangerous or deadly.
For instance, THC greatly increases heart rate and blood pressure, which can exacerbate existing conditions. Excess THC can also cause hallucinations, severe paranoia and anxiety.
To prevent this, it is important to test the waters carefully. “Start low and go slow” is the common motto and it is something all users – regardless of experience – should follow.
Edible High Lasts Longer
Another consideration is that, while smoked cannabis typically wears off in roughly two to three hours, edible highs last much longer. Potency and the types of strains used are both mitigating factors here.
Once the high peaks, “residual effects” could still exist 12 to 24 hours after consumption. Dr. Porath warns:
“It’s important to keep that in mind if say you’re using the product on a Sunday evening and you have to go to work on Monday.”
If individuals need to be sober in 12 to 24 hours, it is better to use smoked herb to ensure that any effects are long gone by then.
Users also need to be aware that edibles are much more concentrated and are therefore much more potent. There are two main reasons.
First, edibles are made with cannabis extracts, like oil or “cannabutter.” It is easy for a small amount of these substances to contain a lot of THC. Smoked herb with 30% THC means that each gram contains 30mg of tetrahydrocannabinol. But when ignited, a lot of that THC evaporates, leading to even less being taken in.
But with edibles, there is no instant evaporation and the amount of food product required to deliver THC is much lower. In fact, one illegal dispensary was raided in May of 2019 and found to carry edibles the size of Lego bricks, each containing 250mg of THC – equal to about eight grams of 30% THC smoked herb.
Consuming that much THC will easily lead to hospitalization from high heart rate, blood pressure, hallucinations or vomiting.
Dr. Porath has some recommendations to avoid the above scenario. First, she recommends first-time users to consume edibles with someone else nearby who is either experienced or does not intend to use cannabis.
She also encourages consumers to only buy legal edibles, since they are limited to 10mg of THC per unit.
WeedAdvisor’s Emphasis on Safe Cannabis Consumption
Legal marijuana is uncharted territory. Based on incidents involving illegal products, it is clear that users – especially new ones – need to be extremely careful. Fortunately, retailers are happy to give their clients guidance on safe consumption.
WeedAdvisor looks forward to the second phase of legalization and will happily add these new edible items to our list of reviews. We encourage potential customers to keep an eye on our review section for the latest products as they are released.