Cannabis edibles present novel health risks, warn scientists
Cannabis edibles are said to take on average four hours longer to produce noticeable effects in comparison to inhaled cannabis, which can allegedly increase the risk of overconsumption.
With the recent legalisation of cannabis edibles in Canada, physicians and the public must be aware of the novel risks of cannabis edibles, argued authors in a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
“Although edibles are commonly viewed as a safer and more desirable alternative to smoked or vaped cannabis, physicians and the public should be aware of several risks related to the use of cannabis edibles,” wrote Dr Jasleen Grewal and Dr Lawrence Loh from the University of Toronto.
With effects of cannabis edibles reported to last up to eight hours in some cases, edibles can lead to a longer period of impairment compared to inhaled cannabis, according to the authors.
While federal regulations have standardised the presentation of dosing information, the authors warned that “individuals’ responses to different products may vary and overdosing may still occur, with cannabis-naive individuals particularly at risk.”
Children and pets are said to be at particular risk as many edibles look like confectionery products and other appetising food and drink. Other vulnerable groups are said to include older people and youth.
“Physicians should routinely question patients who ask about cannabis about their use or intended use of edible cannabis products so that they can counsel these patients regarding child safety, potential for accidental overconsumption and delayed effects, and potential for interactions with other substances such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, sleeping aids and opioids,” cautioned the authors.
The authors continued that population-level monitoring, and evaluation of the effects of legalised edibles, will ensure that regulations are best able to protect children, youth, seniors and other age groups from health effects related to the consumption of cannabis edibles.