| Posted on Thu, June, 5th 2014 by THCFinder
As more states are on the road to legalizing medical marijuana, a different pot conversation has heated up: The potential health risks of consuming marijuana-infused edibles. The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd even documented her own experience with edible pot in the form of a candy bar, which left her “curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours.” There have certainly been reports of ER doctors in Colorado seeing more patients with intoxication from pot-infused edibles, as well as some startling incidents of psychotic behavior and deaths from the products. But is edible pot really any worse than the inhaled version? Or have people just discovered a new plaything that they just don’t know how to work?
The answer is a little bit of both.
One of the issues lies in how the two forms of the drug are absorbed and metabolized, and how quickly the high comes on. “The major difference is in the absorption of the [edible] product into the blood stream,” says Kari Franson, PharmD, PhD, Clinical Pharmacologist and Associate Dean for Professional Education, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, at University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy. “Once it is in the blood, it quickly goes to and has an effect on the brain. With smoking, the peak blood levels happen within 3-10 minutes, and with eating, it’s 1-3 hours. Note that both are about a three-fold difference, but most users are willing to wait 10 minutes, not 3 hours before re-using.
In other words, it’s easier to self-monitor when smoking a joint, since one feels the effects so quickly. But with edible pot, because there can be an hours-long lag before experiencing the high, you might inadvertently consume an overdose amount while waiting.
And what you already have in your system matters more with edible marijuana – whether you’ve eaten recently or not, or have other meds in your body can also affect how the active ingredient, THC, is metabolized. These variables can change “the amount in the blood five-fold,” says Franson. “The THC will compete for metabolism in the liver with other drugs. Things that are inhaled can go directly to the brain and not have these interactions. So even confident users can get surprised with an edible.”
Another, trickier issue is that it’s very difficult to know what you’re getting when you eat a pot-infused candy bar or other edible. Though there have been recent attempts to regulate it, Franson says she’s still skeptical about the standardization of the product. Laboratory tests have shown that the actual amount of THC can vary widely in either direction, with some products containing more and some less than the amount indicated on the packaging’s “nutritional information.” A new law requires more rigorous testing of edible products in an effort to standardize the amount of THC, and remove from the shelves that ones that exceed the maximum 100 mg of the active ingredient. But time will tell how, if at all, this will reduce the risk.
The symptoms of an overdose from edible marijuana are similar to that from inhaled version, but apparently have the potential to be more severe, for some of the reasons mentioned above. Like smoked pot, the symptoms can be both physical and psychological in nature.