Sneaking a joint is not the only substance use problem among youth. In California, marijuana edibles outperformed the total cannabis market, which grew a hefty 54% last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both new and mature pot consumers are trying edibles for the first time.
Edibles are the new generation of pot-laced goodies and beverages. They can be made at home or sold by dispensaries in colorful packages and flavors that appeal to youth. These ingestible products have the active ingredient of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects. Edibles include gummies, brownies, cookies, hard candies, mints, drinks, capsules, dissolvable tablets, as well as cannabis-oil-filled vaping cartridges/disposable vapes. In California, marijuana, including pot-infused edibles, is legal and can be purchased at a marijuana dispensary. Youth surveyed in one California study reported that they can easily buy edibles at school from other students who either make them or from older students reselling edibles obtained from dispensaries. Many teens consume edibles to reduce the likelihood of getting caught at school. One youth explained: “So you can eat your brownie in class and the teachers don’t even know. You’re just eating a brownie. They’re not gonna snatch it out of your hand and smell it.” Edibles are also a “go-to” for those who do not like to smoke or have concerns about tobacco use.
So, what’s the problem? First, THC is more potent today than in the 1960’s and higher potency can lead to serious side effects, such as paranoia, panic attacks, and hallucinations. Next, when ingested THC is absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream than if smoked. Absorption can take one to four hours, and the long lag before experiencing a high may result in inadvertently consuming an excessive amount of marijuana while waiting. In addition, the THC in edibles can interact with other drugs in the body because the liver is involved in metabolizing it, unlike inhaled THC that directly affects the brain.
Because a teen’s brain is not fully developed, edibles can cause real damage. Studies indicate that early access to drugs, even marijuana, and alcohol can create addictive behaviors that last a lifetime. Tell a young person in your life about the overdose dangers of marijuana edibles.
Find out more: Marijuana Edibles