Doctors warn of overconsumption as Ontario releases cannabis edibles
Cannabis edibles were officially legalized in Canada back in October, and the first legal products in Ontario are being rolled out across the province this week.
In light of this, Canadian doctors are warning residents of the negative effects of overconsumption.
A newly-released peer-reviewed article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal warns that "cannabis edibles present specific risks of overconsumption and accidental ingestion, especially among cannabis-naive individuals and children, and additional risks for youth and senior populations with regard to mental well-being and cognitive functioning."
The academic article, which was written by Canadian doctors Jasleen Grewal and Lawrence Loh, identifies the specific health risks associated with cannabis edibles compared to other forms of the drug.
Thoughtful, practical commentary just published by @CMAJ on cannabis edibles. "Physicians should routinely question patients who ask about cannabis about their use or intended use of edible cannabis products..." https://t.co/Vq4wJAvPQg— David Gratzer (@DavidGratzer) January 6, 2020
The article explains that edibles have "a longer latency and duration of effects than inhaled cannabis, which may increase the risk of overdosing from overconsumption."
And while many believe that overdosing on cannabis isn't possible, the article confirms that there are in fact serious health risks associated with overconsumption.
Effects from cannabis edibles can be delayed by up to four hours after eating the product and the effects can last more than eight hours, according to the article. This "lengthens the duration of impaired judgment and coordination experienced in comparison to inhaled cannabis."
In an interview with the Canadian Press, Dr. Loh said it's important for edible users to remember that products take longer to kick in, and they should avoid taking more simply because they don't feel feel an instant effect.
Those who choose to ingest more than the recommended dosage of 10 milligrams of THC are more likely to experience psychotic reactions, hallucinations or delusions as well as anxiety or panic attacks and decreased judgment, according to Loh. This often leads to a trip to the emergency room.
For example, a Medscape study from March 2019 found that legalization in Colorado led to a sharp increase in cannabis-associated emergency department visits. And although most instances were related to inhalable cannabis use, edible cannabis was found to be tied to a disproportionate number of visits.
"I think the big thing for anyone in the public, especially cannabis-naive individuals or people who have edibles around with children at home, is to first and foremost avoid overdosing," Loh told CP.
Cannabis edibles also present long-term health risks, according to the article, including everything from greater cognitive impairment and a heightened risk of hypotension-related falls for older adults, to impaired brain development and poor mental health for youth.
"Longer-term use of edibles has also been associated with increased risks of adverse effects, such as panic attacks, psychosis and hyperemesis syndrome," the article notes.
Despite all this, edibles are sure to be a popular new product upon their release. The 2019 National Cannabis Survey found that 27 per cent of respondents who had used cannabis in the past three months had consumed edible forms of the substance.
New edible products including soft chews, chocolate bars and tea are being released in stores in Ontario today, while the products are expected to become available online later this month.
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