Recently it has been discovered that so many countries have legalized the use of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, but medical experts are warning against the possible health risks that these may pose to consumers, as well as their family members.
According to reports, it was stated that the United Nations 2018 drug use survey carried out in Nigeria showed a high prevalent use of the drug in Lagos, Nigeria.
Another example, is that of Canada, where authorities declared certain marijuana edibles and marijuana infused foods legal as of October 2019.
In Canada, respondents to recent Deloitte surveys reported that they were eager to use edibles not just for recreational purposes, but also for a range of medical reasons, chiefly to help them cope with anxiety and sleep disorders.
“It is also notable that current edible consumers say they are more likely to buy premade marijuana edibles rather than make their own — mainly because it’s more convenient, according to 80 percent of current consumers,” states the Deloitte report based on the results of those surveys.
However, edibles come with a range of health risks — both for people who have never used marijuana before and for some of their family members and cohabitants, particularly children and pets.
Jasleen Grewal, Ph.D., and Lawrence Loh, Ph.D. — from the University of Toronto in Canada — have recently published a commentary in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that draws attention to these risks.
Overconsumption is a significant risk
“Although edibles are commonly viewed as safer and more desirable alternatives to smoked or vaped marijuana, physicians and the public should be aware of several risks related to the use of marijuana edibles,” warned Grewal and Loh in their published paper.
One risk is that unlike smoking marijuana, consuming edibles can take much longer — up to 4 hours — to produce an effect.
This delay could lead some people, especially those who are new to the drug, to increase their portion, resulting in overconsumption.
Moreover, the authors note, the effect of marijuana from edibles can last for 8 hours or even longer, “which lengthens the duration of impaired judgment and coordination experienced in comparison to inhaled marijuana.”
The two researchers also warn that even the standard, state-approved dose of marijuana present in regulated edibles can cause different effects in different individuals, as some may be more sensitive to the drug than others.
Thus, some people may overdose even on edibles with lower concentrations of marijuana, and those who have no previous experience of the drug are particularly at risk, the specialists’ cautioned.
Another issue is that edibles often come in very appetizing forms, such as candy or cookies, meaning that they may appeal immediately to children and household pets. Should children and animals end up consuming marijuana edibles, they could easily come to harm.
Other groups who may be vulnerable to the health risks associated with consuming marijuana edibles are older individuals, the researchers report. The two authors also cite data from the U.S. regarding the effect of the legalization of edibles on those belonging to at-risk groups.
“After legalization of marijuana edibles in Colorado, the state poison control centre saw a 70 percent increase in calls for accidental marijuana exposure in children from 2013 to 2017, and studies of healthcare usage reported more children than adults being treated for ingestion incidents,” they stated.
“Among older adults, marijuana consumption including use of edibles has been linked to greater cognitive impairment and a heightened risk of hypotension-related falls, arrhythmia, and drug interactions,” the authors add.
Going forward, Grewal and Loh advised healthcare professionals to make sure to explain to their patients the risks associated with edibles, as well as methods of preventing these risks.
“Physicians should routinely question patients who ask about cannabis about their use or intended use of edible marijuana 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”, they concluded.