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Educational

Educational

Are Edibles Safe? What the Science Says

Are Edibles Safe? What the Science Says

Edibles offer precise dosing, long-lasting effects, and a wide range of flavors, making them an ideal alternative to smoking. Cannabis edibles come in various forms, including gummies, chocolates, cookies, brownies, and beverages. 

 

Cannabis edibles are rapidly gaining popularity as a convenient and discreet consumption method. In 2022, the edibles market was valued at $8.01 billion. The booming market is expected to grow further at a CAGR of around 16.5% between 2023 and 2032 (1).

 

If you've never tried cannabis edibles before, you're probably wondering, are edibles safe? We're here to help you answer that. 

 

What are Cannabis Edibles?

Cannabis edibles are food and beverage products infused with cannabinoids extracted from the cannabis plant, typically THC or CBD. However, additional minor cannabinoids, like CBG and CBN, are becoming quite popular.

 

Making edibles often involves heating or decarboxylating cannabis flower or concentrates to activate the desired cannabinoids (2). The extracts are then dissolved into an oil or fat base and incorporated into recipes for various weed edibles. Depending on the product, additional methods can be utilized.

 

Today, when many think of edibles, they don't first think cannabis, but rather mushroom edibles.

 

While both cannabis and many strains of mushrooms are psychoactive, the two edibles contain different active compounds and produce distinct effects. Unlike cannabis edibles, which are infused with cannabinoids, the primary active compound in magic mushroom edibles is psilocybin, a hallucinogenic compound linked to effects such as altered perception, spiritual experiences, and enhanced creativity (3).

 

How Do Edibles Work?

Like any other food or beverage, cannabis edibles go through the digestive system. In the stomach, edibles are broken into smaller components, releasing the cannabinoids, which are absorbed into the bloodstream via the small intestines.

 

The blood transports the cannabinoids into the liver, where they undergo a process known as first-pass metabolism. During this process, THC is metabolized into 11-hydroxy-THC, a more potent THC metabolite (4). This explains the delayed and more intense effects of marijuana edibles compared to vaping or smoking.   

 

Once metabolized, THC and other cannabinoids are distributed throughout the body and to the brain, where they interact with cannabinoid receptors, causing the myriad of effects associated with THC, such as the intoxicating "high" (5). 

 

With both edible cannabis and psilocybin, the intoxicating effects can last hours. Again, like psilocybin, the onset, intensity, and duration of weed edibles' effects vary by person, as individuals are affected by several factors, particularly metabolism.  

 

Other factors that influence the effects of cannabis edibles include:

  • Dosage — Higher doses equals intense, longer-lasting effects
  • Cannabinoids present — The presence of CBD may modulate the intoxicating effect of THC.
  • Body weight, muscle mass, and body fat percentage
  • Health of the liver
  • Frequency of use

Are Edibles Safe?

There's a relatively complex answer we'll unpack down below. But, to cut to the chase, edibles are safe for most consumers in most instances.

 

Research shows that cannabinoids such as CBD are often well-tolerated by humans, even in high doses (6). Does this safety profile hold for THC-infused edibles?

 

In most cases, that seems to be so. Typically, the safety of cannabis edibles depends on THC potency, dosage, personal tolerance, and the ingredients present in the product. Select research shows that cannabis edibles are generally safe when consumed at an adequate dosage and avoid additives, allergens, sweeteners and artificial colors (7).

 

Dosage is critical to edibles, as a person's standard threshold may alter once dealing with 11-hydroxy-THC. This is particularly true if someone consumes more than one dose before feeling the effects. Remember, it takes longer for the body to metabolize cannabis edibles compared to inhaled cannabis. Patience is the name of the game. 

 

If you're trying edibles for the first time, start with a low dose, 5 mg or lower. Wait for 30 to 90 minutes before deciding if you need another dose. Otherwise, you run the risk of over-intoxication side effects, including feelings of anxiety, panic attacks, and, in severe cases, a heart attack (8).

 

Comparing Safety: Edibles vs. Other Consumption Methods

While generally safe, consumers need to practice caution with edibles and other cannabis products. In addition to the short-term intoxication effects, the long-term effects of smoked cannabis can include damage to blood vessels and lung tissues (9).

 

Certain smoking methods may present additional risks, particularly when tobacco is involved. When you smoke a blunt, you're inhaling various carcinogens and toxic chemicals similar to those found in cigarette smoke (10).

 

While vaping is considered a safer alternative to smoking weed, it may still expose your lungs to contaminants/irritants. This is particularly true concerning high-temperature dabs, which may lead to the consumption of toxins created from oil combustion (11). 

 

So, are edibles safer than vaping and smoking?

 

Conversely, research has suggested that, unlike smoking, cannabis edibles do not irritate the lungs and bronchi. Edibles are not linked to inducing chronic cough or phlegm, two common side effects associated with smoking cannabis (12).

 

Still, this doesn't mean that edibles do not have any health issues or concerns.

 

The significant risk of overdosing is always something to be cautious of. Taking too much THC may lead to adverse side effects such as paranoia and anxiety. While it may not lead to deadly effects, the outcome is uncomfortable in the short term. 

 

Depending on other ingredients, edibles may also cause gastrointestinal distress or trigger allergic reactions. Consumers should always examine the ingredients used and determine if any ingredients pose a health risk. Likewise, consumers need to understand what dose of cannabis they're about to consume. Doing so will likely keep the consumption experience safe and enjoyable. 

 

Tips for Safe Edible Consumption

Start With A Low Dose And Go Slow 

To prevent overdosing, start with a small dose of an edible product and gradually increase the dosage, as detailed above. 

 

Read Labels And Understand THC Content

By carefully reviewing product labels, you can determine the THC potency per serving and adjust the dosage accordingly. This information helps individuals avoid consuming too much THC, which can lead to adverse effects.

 

Choose Quality Products

Here are some tips for choosing high-quality edibles:

 

Source of Ingredients

Opt for products made with high-quality, organic ingredients sourced from reputable suppliers. 

 

Manufacturing Standards

Choose products from manufacturers who adhere to strict quality control standards and follow proper manufacturing practices.

 

Lab Testing

Select products that third-party laboratories have independently tested to verify their potency and safety. 

 

Transparent Labeling

Always choose products with clear and accurate labeling. The labeling should include information such as THC potency per serving, recommended dosage, and potential allergens. Also, look for any QR codes for expanded information about the product. 

 

Know What You Want

Understanding the effects/the experience you want will help you select the best edibles.

 

What To Do In Case Of Over-intoxication

Practice Relaxation Techniques

It'll be ok. The cannabinoids in an edible won't kill you (13). Find a quiet, calm place to relax and reassure yourself that the effects will wear off. Avoid panic or anxiety, as they can worsen the situation. Ask for help if needed. 

 

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and help flush out cannabinoids from your body. 

 

Distract Yourself

Calming activities can help distract yourself and alleviate discomfort, such as practicing deep breathing techniques or listening to soothing music.

 

Seek Support

If you're experiencing severe symptoms such as extreme confusion or rapid heart rate, seek help from a trusted friend or, in rarer extreme cases, a healthcare professional.

 

Best Practices for a Safe Edible Experience

Storing Edibles Safely

Proper storage of cannabis edibles is essential for preserving potency, flavors, and preventing accidental ingestion by children or pets. 

  • Use clearly labeled, childproof containers to store edibles.
  • Place the packaging in a locked cabinet. 
  • Ensure packaging is not easily mistaken for regular snacks. 
  • Store edibles in airtight, opaque containers to protect them from UV light. 
  • Use silicone or glass containers to avoid odor absorption and maintain freshness.

Recommendations for First-timers and Anyone Finding Their Tolerance Level

Playing it safe when starting out or exploring your boundaries is never a bad idea. 

 

It's often recommended that you begin with the lowest possible dose. Most experts recommend starting with 1 to 5 mg of THC. Then, wait between 30 and 90 minutes to determine if you need another dose. Remember, edibles can take up to two hours to kick in, leading some experts to recommend waiting between 45 minutes and 3 hours before deciding to ingest any more edibles (14).

 

As with any cannabis consumption experience, comfort is vital to a good time. Consuming edibles in a safe, comfortable environment should help increase the odds of a pleasant outcome. 

 

Edibles aren't just for recreational use. Many medical users enjoy edibles for their highly potent, longer-lasting effects, among other reported benefits. If you want to use medical cannabis, consult a medical professional to assess best how edibles may factor into your unique health needs. 

 

Ready to Try Edibles?

Cannabis edibles are generally safe, so long as you buy them from a reputable cannabis dispensary and maintain a proper dosage. 

Consumers get just that with Snoozy. We offer lab-tested, state-regulated, delicious Delta 9 gummies in various doses. Start low or dive in with a regular dose. Snoozy has consumers covered at bedtime and beyond.

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