With dispensaries popping up around the country it seems like everyone and their Uncle can’t get enough edibles. While Skyping with family as one does during these Covid times my Uncle claimed edibles were deadly. I didn’t really have a response because I didn’t know if he was right or not. Can a large quantity of marijuana gummy bears or chocolate bars really be deadly? Was this in the news recently? While I have never heard of a case of someone dying because of ingesting too many edibles it didn’t mean it wasn’t true. So I did what any responsible adult would do. Fact check crazy claims by relatives so I can win next years thanksgiving dinner argument.
According to the province of Ontario’s health and wellness page “Cannabis poisoning is not generally known to be fatal, but it can be dangerous and sometimes requires emergency medical attention.”
Well that’s what some hippy in a cushy government job thinks. Lets dig a little deeper.
In a previous post we covered the negative stigma regarding marijuana. While it’s fun to remember the vicious lies our g’uvment used to throw at us it’s important to note that we are still bombarded by misinformation today. I use the term vicious because those lies upheld an outdated cannabis prohibition law that sent a lot of people to prison and subsequently destroyed lives.
According to the American Addiction Centers website, marijuana edibles are not only deadly but they can cause harm to others as well. In their section detailing the dangers of cannabis edibles they claim:
“One of the consequences of taking in too much of the drug too
quickly is users can become violent or unaware of their actions.”
Within the paragraph they site multiple news stories in which people take their own lives or take the life of someone else while high on edibles. While there is no disputing the fact that tragic crimes were committed while the individuals were high on cannabis edibles the information stops there. There’s no context or background information into these investigations and the drug is blamed immediately. An institution that should be an authority on drug use is claiming that edibles are deadly and can turn you into a murderer. They make that bold claim in four sentences before siting news stories covering the crimes committed by people high on edibles. If you’re curious here are the four sentences:
- Due to the delayed onset and uncertain potency of edibles, many people who use these products may unintentionally consume excessively high amounts of THC.
- One of the consequences of taking in too much of the drug too quickly is users can become violent or unaware of their actions.
- These individuals may exhibit self-harming behaviors or hurt others while in this state, behaviors that they likely never would have engaged in while sober.
- There have been several tragic incidents caused by unusual and risky behaviors stemming from the consumption of edibles.
To make a claim that cannabis edibles can turn you violent with no reference to any scientific study is nonsense and irresponsible. Who could forget the tone deaf public service ad where two stoned youths find their dads gun and one of them ends up getting shot. Guns don’t kill people the devil’s lettuce does! Just in case you did forget this ad or never saw it, here it is:
Won’t someone think of the children? That’s what an Ontario ER nurse was trying to do when she tweeted:
“In ER last night I treated someone for a cannabis induced psychosis from cannabis ‘edibles,’ in this case, a chocolate bar.
She ate one piece of the 16 piece bar.
That piece had 20g of THC equivalent to 20 joints! Edibles are often so concentrated that they can be fatal in kids.”
Thanks to Vice Canada’s fact checking we can pick apart this tweet.
There is little to no evidence that cannabis can cause psychosis. As we’ve covered in a previous post 5 Common Marijuana Lies , The Medical Cannabis Network says: “Although most experts agree that cannabis use alone doesn’t trigger psychosis or conditions such as bipolar disorder, there is a possibility it could trigger psychosis in those who already have the condition.”
- Dr. Bonnie Goldstein who is a 28 year practicing pediatrician explains that ingesting edibles can have psychoactive affects because the THC is processed through the liver. She goes on to explain that overdoses are common but also adds “you cannot fatally overdose on cannabis”. It’s also worth mentioning that Dr. Goldstein is a pediatric cannabis specialist.
- 225 grams of THC in a single chocolate bar edible is simply not true. She claims one piece of the chocolate bar contained 20 grams of THC. She’s correct in saying that is the equivalent to 20 joints but edibles are measured in milligrams. A 20mg edible is probably what she meant but that is not the equivalent to 20 joints. If you’re going to start scaring people into thinking cannabis is deadly you should probably get the math right.
- Dr. Goldstein also explains that the Center for Disease Control in the USA “stopped tracking deaths due to cannabis because there were none year after year.”
- “Edibles are often so concentrated that they can be fatal to children”. It’s a misleading claim with little to no scientific evidence to back it up. In Alberta in 2016 and 2017 700 kids were admitted to the ER for ingestion of Tide Pods compared to 20 who were admitted for cannabis ingestion. How many of those 20 died? Zero.
How Much Is Too Much?
Claiming that overdosing on edibles won’t be fatal so they’re safe is also irresponsible. If you have a preexisting condition such as high blood pressure or heart disease a high dose of THC can be trouble.
So even if edibles are not considered dangerous in a mortality sense that doesn’t mean there are no toxic effects. According to the Ontario Health website cannabis poisoning is described with the following symptoms:
- chest pain
- rapid heartbeat
- nausea or vomiting
- a psychotic episode
- shallow breathing
- severe anxiety or a panic attack
While these symptoms may convince the user that their life may be in danger that is very rarely the case. Be sure to check out our post on How To Deal With A Bad Trip for more info. Smoking or vaping cannabis can also cause these negative side effects. The difference between smoking and ingesting is the amount of time it takes the THC to wear off. If you are having a “bad trip” from smoking a joint you should come back down to earth in about an hour. An edible can take almost two hours to kick in. A rookie mistake is thinking that the edible is weak so you keep popping them in your mouth. If you take in more THC than you can handle you are likely to suffer more than one of the above symptoms.
With all this information whether it’s facts or lies meant to scare you, edibles can be pretty confusing to someone who’s never tried it before. I wouldn’t blame anyone who’s a little hesitant before trying their first marijuana laced gummy bear. Sure it won’t kill me but do I really want to simulate what it’d feel like having a heart attack?
Here’s a little guide to help you out if you are new to the edible game:
- If you are new no more than 2(mg) Good for beginners with little to no tolerance.
- Comfy and now you want plenty? No more than 20(mg) Anything between 5 and 20mg for those who use recreationally occasionally
- Brave and nifty? Then go up to 50(mg) For experienced cannabis users who have built up a healthy tolerance.
- 100(mg) You will see the face of god
So are edibles deadly? Not really. To say they are 100% non-lethal is like saying Aspirin is non-lethal. Wash down an entire bottle of Aspirin pills with some Jack Daniels and you’ll be cheers-ing with the grim reaper.
If you tell someone you are going to try an edible this weekend and they respond with, “careful those can kill you.” you can go ahead and engage in an argument for the purposes of education. Don’t be a dick about it.
Lets look at our facts:
- According to Dr. Goldstein, a pediatric cannabis specialist based in Los Angeles, the Center for Disease Control in the USA “stopped tracking deaths due to cannabis because there were none year after year.”
- According to the province of Ontario’s Health and Wellness website “Cannabis poisoning is not generally known to be fatal”
- More children were admitted to the ER in 2016 and 2017 in Alberta due to Tide Pods than cannabis ingestion by a 70:2 ratio and no deaths reported.
- No evidence to suggest cannabis contributes to starting a mental illness such as psychosis or bipolar disorder. Therefore it’s not feasible to consider that cannabis alone would cause violent behavior.
If you would like to try a cannabis edible be mindful of your dosage and don’t be pointing a loaded gun at your friends while sober or high.