Health Alert: Use Caution When Consuming Marijuana Edibles


In 2014, Colorado was the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. During that time, the number of cannabis-related emergency-room visits in one Colorado hospital tripled in just a few years. One half-million emergency room visits at Aurora's University of Colorado hospital were analyzed. Between 2012 and 2016, approximately 2,500 emergency room visits were wholly or partially due to consuming marijuana. The number of marijuana-related emergency room visits jumped from fewer than 250 during 2012 to more than 750 such visits in 2016.

Over 90% of these hospital visits were related to smoking or inhaling marijuana. However, the remaining emergency room visits were related to consuming edible cannabis; this includes THC infused cookies and candy, and other edibles.

The researchers further narrowed the study to approximately 10,000 marijuana-related hospital admissions at the University of Colorado Hospital between 2012 and 2016. The study found that while most legal marijuana sales are for inhaled forms, those consuming THC edibles were more likely to pay a visit to the emergency room. The main complaints were for severe panic attacks and other fast onset mental disorders.

While only 0.32% of all cannabis sales in Colorado were for edibles, a full 10% of cannabis-related emergency room visits were the result of edible forms of marijuana. That’s 33 times more than what the researchers expected.

Those who consume marijuana edibles may be ingesting more THC than they think because the high is not as immediate as smoking marijuana. The effects of edibles are often not felt for two hours after ingestion, so plenty of time is needed before eating more. Also, cookies and candy taste good! It's very easy to overindulge in any type of snack, whether it's infused with THC or not.

However, there is no reason to avoid marijuana edibles; consumers simply need to proceed slowly and exercise some common sense. For one thing, while cannabis has several health benefits, such as pain and stress relief, smoking anything is ultimately bad for your lungs. Edible forms of cannabis won't make you cough or burn your throat or contribute to lung disease. Edibles can be much easier on your body.

First of all, make sure any edible cannabis products you have are well out of the reach of children and pets; hide them if you have to. Children and pets should never share your marijuana edibles. Secondly, try eating much less than the recommended dosage at first; if the package says one serving is one cookie or one square of chocolate, cut that in half, or even fourths. See how long it takes to see an effect, and what the effect is like. You can increase your consumption from there. The main point is, not to over-do it.

Remember the motto, everything in moderation. You can enjoy legalized cannabis, whether inhaled or edible, as long as you don't over-do it. While there are some health benefits to cannabis, there are also serious side effects of overconsumption of THC and cannabis products.


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