As of January 2020, cannabis edibles, like chocolate, cookies, soft chews and even mints are on the shelves of licensed cannabis stores in Ontario (and available online through the Ontario Cannabis Store). According to a federal government survey (December 2019), edibles were the third most popular method of cannabis consumption among Canadians behind smoking and vaping.
If you’re one of the many Ontarians planning to try them, keep one thing in mind before dipping your hand into that bag of candy—edibles can be unpredictable so they should be taken responsibly.
Start with a low dose to avoid “greening out”
Eating or drinking a cannabis product is different from smoking it. Edibles can be a safer option for your lungs, but they are not risk-free. When you eat cannabis rather than smoke it, it’s absorbed through the digestive system, not the lungs, and it takes longer for you to feel the effects.
While it takes just a few minutes to feel the effects of smoking cannabis, it can take between half an hour and four hours to feel the effects of an edible. It may also take 12-24 hours for the effects of an edible to wear off, so plan ahead. If you grab a second piece of cannabis-infused chocolate just 20 minutes after the first, you may want to brace yourself for an unwieldy high, especially if you are a new cannabis user.
Edibles identify the amount of THC in milligrams per serving and in the whole package. For example, a chocolate bar might have 10 milligrams of THC in total. If the desired dose is 2.5 milligrams of THC, the bar can be divided into 4 pieces of equal size. Some products already come divided into lower doses (e.g. 2.5 mg of THC).
Experts advise beginners to start with a THC dose of 2.5 mg or less and to go easy. Overconsuming could result in cannabis poisoning, also known as a “green out.” Cannabis poisoning is rare, but it leaves an indelible mark among the unfortunate few who experience it.
Be aware of the health risks
Like with other forms of cannabis, there are health risks to be aware of. The consumption of cannabis can be associated with short-term health risks like anxiety, dizziness, trouble concentrating and delayed reactions. More serious long-term risks can include addiction, impaired ability to make decisions and memory loss. Some studies have shown that there can also be an increased risk of depression, anxiety and more severe mental health conditions like schizophrenia.
Frequent and prolonged cannabis use can increase these health risks. As many veteran cannabis consumers will attest, eating edibles can contribute to a relaxing and enjoyable few hours when taken responsibly. When it comes to cannabis edibles, look before you leap or risk an unwieldy high.
Paid for by the Government of Ontario.