10 Potential Dangers of Marijuana Edibles
Medically Verified: 2/1/24
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.
The legalization and growing popularity of marijuana edibles in some states have substance abuse experts concerned about people’s health. Edible THC is processed differently by a person’s body, and some users have experienced severe, long-lasting side effects.
It’s important to understand the potential dangers of using marijuana edibles and seek substance abuse treatment if needed. Reach out to the knowledgeable specialists at Carolina Center for Recovery to learn more about your treatment options.
What are Marijuana Edibles?
For many years, smoking has been the most common way to ingest THC, the intoxicating chemical compound in marijuana. But in recent years, there has been a sharp rise in the popularity of THC edibles. An edible is any food product infused with THC.
Marijuana edibles are available in many forms, including:
- Baked goods
Some edibles are homemade, and some are mass-produced in commercial factories to be sold at stores and dispensaries. With many states legalizing the sale of THC edibles, more and more people are being exposed to these products and deciding to use them. So, although smoking remains the most popular way to consume THC, the popularity of marijuana edibles is quickly gaining ground.
But using marijuana edibles comes with risks. It’s essential to be aware of these risks and make informed choices about your substance use.
10 Potential Dangers of Marijuana Edibles
Many people are unaware of the potential dangers of THC edibles, or they may underestimate the harm they can cause because they are sometimes sold in stores. But there are many potential hazards to edibles. Here are ten of the most significant dangers of THC edibles.
1. Delayed onset of symptoms
Smoking marijuana leads to a quick onset of symptoms. But with THC edibles, the effects can take a long time–as much as 2 hours–to develop fully. People may consume more than is safe because they believe their dose is too low if they aren’t feeling high after an hour or so, which can lead to a marijuana overdose. While marijuana overdose is rarely fatal, symptoms such as increased heart rate, panic attacks, paranoia, and others can be very unpleasant.
2. Long-lasting effects
As your body metabolizes THC, it becomes water-soluble, which can result in long-lasting effects. Some of the negative effects of THC edibles can linger for many hours. Long-lasting, adverse side effects are often cause for emergency room visits in people who consume marijuana edibles.
3. More intense and negative side effects
Your body metabolizes edible THC differently than when you smoke it, allowing more THC to cross into your liver. There, it is broken down into several byproducts, including 11-hydroxy-THC, which can be more psychoactive than THC. This results in stronger psychoactive effects, some of which are experienced negatively.
4. Varying potency and regulations
The potency of marijuana edibles can vary quite a bit. THC products are widely unregulated, especially when they are homemade. A lack of oversight and inconsistent regulations mean you can’t know with certainty how much THC you are consuming. It is easier to take too many edibles than it is to smoke too much marijuana in one sitting because it is difficult to regulate what you’re putting into your body.
Marijuana edibles often taste, smell, and look identical to products that do not contain THC. The prevalence of THC candies, gummies, beverages, and baked goods can increase the risk of accidental marijuana consumption. Children and pets are also at risk if they unknowingly consume marijuana-laced products. Children or pets who consume marijuana edibles may require medical attention.
6. Accidental overconsumption
Ingesting too much THC too quickly can lead to severe, unpleasant side effects. This effect is magnified for people with no previous experience with marijuana. How does this happen?
THC edibles like candies and gummies are easy to eat, and people may not understand that they should only eat one. THC edibles like brownies or cookies may contain several “doses” of THC, but people may eat the entire product. With marijuana edibles, it’s easy to consume a very high dose of THC quickly.
7. Harm to self and others
There have been reports of aggressive and violent behaviors linked to the consumption of marijuana edibles. Consuming too much THC may lead to violence or a lack of awareness and control over your behaviors, resulting in harm to yourself or others.
8. Unknown long-term effects
The risks of smoking marijuana are well-known in the medical community, including lung damage and changes in mood and behavior. But because THC edibles are relatively new products, there is little research about their long-term effects. We don’t know how consuming marijuana edibles may impact the growth and development of adolescents, and there is no long-term research about how these products affect brain functioning over time.
9. Risk of mixing substances
Many people falsely believe that THC edibles are safe because they are pleasant to use and widely available–often legally. But mixing marijuana edibles and other drugs–especially alcohol–can cause dangerous side effects.
10. Risk of addiction
Marijuana edibles make it easy and pleasant to consume THC–and easy to use too much. Marijuana edibles can make it appealing to consume large amounts of THC regularly, which can lead to addiction.
Find Help for Marijuana Abuse and Addiction Now
Understanding the potential dangers of edibles is essential because these products are so widely available. People who regularly use marijuana edibles may develop an addiction to these products that require treatment.
If you or someone you love needs help to stop using THC edibles or other substances, reach out to the Carolina Center for Recovery specialists to learn about our treatment programs.