Cannabis Edible Products Category: Cannabinoids
What are cannabis edible products?
Cannabis can be taken in different ways by smoking, eating or drinking in herbal tea. It can also come in oil format.
Cannabis ‘edibles’ are food products infused with cannabis. Edibles come in many forms—including baked goods, sweets, ’gummy bears’, 'cannabis gummies' chocolates and lozenges. They have many different names that include 'space cakes', 'Gummies', 'THC sweets' 'Edibles', 'THC Lean'.
Food products containing cannabis have been available internationally in locations such as the Netherlands as cakes sold in coffee shops or in situations where a cannabis consumer independently prepares cannabis for cooking.
More recently, food products containing cannabis extract have emerged as products sold as part of the legalised market in Northern America and are not legalised in an Irish context.
The digestion of cannabis may be chosen by those who don’t wish to consume tobacco. But with these products, it is harder to know how a person will react as they can take a long time to kick in increasing the risks.
The amount of THC in edibles can vary across a single product and across batches made at different times, making it difficult a person to estimate how much THC they consume and how they react.
Any products seized in Ireland have not been subjected to quantitative analysis, meaning we are unsure of the amount of THC contained in products and if the packaging correctly shows the dose/strength.
Are there risks?
Each person will react differently to a substance. People may have a different experience if they use cannabis edibles compared to smoking.You can never be fully sure how you will react and there are always some form of risk.
The effects a person experiences will depend on multiple factors, such as personal factors, their mind-set and mental health, their metabolism, their past experiences or tolerance to the substance, the situation in which the substance is consumed, if they have eaten, the potency of the product, how much is consumed and if the product contains unknown compounds.
- The overall experience from ingestion may differ to the inhalation of cannabis. This is as a result of how the body responds to this form of consumption. While smoking cannabis avoids what is known as ‘first pass metabolism’ (being broke down by the liver), ingestion enables the liver to breakdown cannabis into a number of metabolites, some of which are psychoactive.
- When eaten, THC converts 100% to 11-hydroxy-THC compared to only 20% which is formed after smoking. What this means is that eating can cause more potent effects.
- A person will not feel the effects immediately like smoking cannabis. In some cases it could take over two hours before the peak effects are felt.
- Effects can last longer, over a number of hours compared to inhalation. As a rough guide, it can take around 30-90 minutes to feel effects and over 2 hours to feel the peak effects.
- It is harder for a person to know an accurate dose or gauge how they will react compared to inhaling. People may easily consume too much THC without knowing until the effects are felt some time later. This can increase the risks.
- We can't be sure of the potency of products or if they contain other substances.
- We are aware of a small number of hospitalisations as a result of cannabis edible consumption in Ireland.
Although taking too much may not be fatal, taking too many edibles can cause paranoia, anxiety, vomiting, nausea, delusions or hallucinations which can be frightening, mentally difficult or lead to accidental injury.
Risk reduction information for cannabis edible products can be found here
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