Cannabis users should be wary of the hidden dangers when using edibles, top doctors have warned.
Tea, cakes, chocolate and sweets infused with the drug are commonly viewed as a safer alternative to smoking or vaping.
But they can render users unconscious, make them sick or trigger paranoia if taken alongside alcohol, sleeping pills or opioids, health experts say.
The warning was issued by doctors in Canada weeks after the country legalised cannabis edibles,Â allowing shops to stock the products on their shelves.Â
Ingested marijuana takes four or more hours to give users a ‘high’, but the effects are more intense and can last up to eight hours.Â
This is far slower than smoked or vaped cannabis, which normally takes effect within a matter of minutes.Â
Users who still feel sober hours after consuming edibles may be tempted to take more because they think they don’t work, doctors from the University of Toronto say.
Cookies infused with cannabis are commonly viewed as a safer alternative to smoking or vaping. But they can cause a host of unpleasant side effects if taken alongside alcohol, sleeping pills or opioids, health bosses say (stock)
This increases the risk of taking more than they can handle and having an unpleasant experience.
Dr Jasleen Grewal and Lawrence Loh warned ‘cannabis naive’ people were at riskÂ in a commentary in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
They urged users to keep products out of reach of children and pets because many edibles look like candy and other appetising food and drink.
Other vulnerable groups include adolescents.Â
The 2019 National Cannabis Survey revealed they falsely believe cannabis edibles have positive effects on sleep, mood and anxiety.Â
This actually is opposite to what is seen in evidence, according to the health experts.
Writing in the journal, the authors said: ‘Physicians should routinely question patients who ask about cannabis about their use or intended use of edible cannabis products so that they can counsel these patients regarding child safety, potential for accidental overconsumption and delayed effects, and potential for interactions with other substances such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, sleeping aids and opioids.’
New regulations in Canada mean there can only be a maximum of 10mg of THC – the psychoactive compound in marijuana – per serving.Â
Despite this, individualsâ€™ responses to different products may vary and overdosing may still occur, the doctors say.Â
THC-based edibles are not legal in the UK. But foods infused with CBD â€“ another compound in the cannabis plant â€“ are.Â
EDIBLE MARIJUANA IS SAFER BUT COULD GIVE YOU A LONGER, STRONGER HIGH THAN SMOKING ITÂ
Though they come from the same plant, each marijuana product reacts differently in the body based on how it is heated.Â
Smoking marijuana heats it to nearly 1,500 degrees Farenheit.Â
At this temperature, the burning plant releases carcinogens (though far fewer than come from a cigarette) and smoke that constricts blood vessels and can damage the lungs.Â
The heat also changes the psychoactive component of the plant, THC, from THCA to Delta-9THC.Â Â
This new form of THC makes its way to receptors in the brain within five to 10 minutes, typically. The effects fade within 60 to 120 minutes.Â
Weed edibles are made by dissolving THC into a fatty substance, typically oil or butter, and cooking the snack at about 300 degrees Fahrenheit.Â
At that temperature, both Delta-9THC and another psychoactive compound are released.Â
The result is a less carcinogenic, but more potent drug.Â Â
The food has to be processed by the liver, an extra step that delays the onset of a high, which makes it hard to control.Â
Edibles’ second psychotropic compound, 11-OH-THC is strong and slips easily through the blood-brain barrier.Â
The body also keeps metabolizing the edible, making the effects of THC last far longer – sometimes as long as 10 hours.Â Â