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Marijuana Edibles: Effects, Side Effects & Danger

Dr. Adil Maqbool (MD, MRCP)

Written by: Dr. Adil Maqbool (MD, MRCP)

Updated on December 31, 2023

Marijuana Edibles Effects, Side Effects & Danger

Marijuana is fast becoming a commodity product globally. Although, it depends on the part of the globe where you live: regulations on the cultivation, use, and distribution of marijuana products may vary. In Australia and North America, these laws have become a bit liberal over the years. Not only will you find a couple of marijuana plants in some private gardens, but you might even find a few weed edibles offered for sale in public.

No doubt, marijuana edibles are fast becoming viable options for both recreational and medicinal consumption of marijuana. This article talks about everything you should know about marijuana edibles including the types, effects on the body, and the side effects to watch out for.

What are Marijuana Edibles?

Marijuana edibles are food products infused with pure cannabis extracts. Depending on the regulation guiding the formulation of these products in your area, you might find them produced in different forms: baked goods, candies, gummies, lozenges, brownies, beverages, and chocolates. You can also find edibles commercially prepared and sold in dispensaries or homemade and served at parties.

Making marijuana edibles itself is considered an art in some cultures. It’s not just about stuffing marijuana leaves in cakes, it requires an exquisite approach that generally involves the extraction of cannabinoids. At the basic level, cannabinoids – the bioactive components of the cannabis plant – are extracted as an oil-based liquid by heating the flowers from the female cannabis plant.
Heating plays a major role in the production of marijuana edibles from the cannabis plant. In their natural state, cannabis plants store THC – a major psychoactive cannabinoid – in its non-psychoactive form. Heating changes the chemical configuration of this cannabinoid, changing it into the active form. In this active form, THC and other cannabinoids dissolve into an oil base that is then used in the production of THC edibles and marijuana edibles.

With this oil, the possibilities of making products infused with the active components of the cannabis plants are limitless. It all depends on how you want your edibles customized. You might also find this type of edible at dispensaries with instruction labels like ‘suitable for THC edibles,’ ‘contains pure cannabis oil’ or ‘edible cannabinoids.’

Different Types of Marijuana Edibles

If you are a big fan of pot edibles, you can find them prepared and offered for sale in different forms. It’s commonplace to find different types of edible marijuana in the USA as marijuana capsules, marijuana cooking oil, marijuana-infused baked goods, and marijuana chocolates.

Marijuana-Infused Baked Goods

Perhaps the oldest form of marijuana edibles, marijuana food has been around since the 1960s. Early records of this form point to the medical cannabis movement that began in the Bay area in the 1960s. People love infused baked foods for their variety, flavor, and shareability. Well, how about infusing cannabis into food?
Today, you can find marijuana-infused pancakes, muffins, and donuts. Brownies and bread. These food products have the same nutritional profile as hemp seed and can give you the high peculiar to cannabis. As more and more regulations allow the distribution of marijuana, you can only expect to find more of these products everywhere.

Marijuana Beverages

Popular as early morning go-to quick drinks, marijuana beverages are becoming more popular globally. Marijuana regulations in many parts of the world require that marijuana beverages come in disease. So, you can find many marijuana enthusiasts getting together and drinking different doses of these products. Also, depending on country-level regulations, marijuana beverages can be designed in varieties such as fruit beverages, mocktails, caffeinated drinks, syrups, and hot shakes.

Marijuana Chocolates

Chocolate is one of the most sold commodities on the globe. Infusing chocolate products with marijuana creates a variety of marijuana chocolates that elevate users’ consumption experience. Of course, it’s not just chocolate anymore. Chocolate marijuana delivers psychoactive doses of cannabinoids not present in ordinary chocolate. You can find marijuana chocolates in three different forms: THC chocolates, CBD chocolates, and CBD+THC chocolate. Each form is named after the main cannabis concentrate it contains: cannabidiol and THC.

Marijuana Capsule

With the wide adoption of cannabis in modern healthcare, the marijuana capsule became a thing. Essentially, this form of marijuana edible is designed as pills and dosed for both recreational and medicinal products. Since they are widely used in medicine, marijuana capsules have several formulations. You might find these capsules labeled as ‘full-spectrum,’ ‘strain-specific’ or ‘decarboxylated.’

Cannabis Cooking Oil

The components of cannabis are extracted to make cannabis oil. Unlike other forms of marijuana edibles, marijuana cooking oils are primarily for the production of other edibles. You can find it sold in supermarkets as cooking oil, solvents, or as cooking additives.

Marijuana Gummies

Marijuana gummies are the go-to snack options for many cannabis users. They’ve been around for a while as people love the extra kick it gives. As a chewable option, it commands pretty much familiarity and love from users who love to be kids once again. The fondness it offers and the micro-dosing effect it gives on the go might explain the popularity of marijuana gummies.

Marijuana Hard Candy

Marijuana hard candies are another popular pot edible you should consider trying. It offers a different experience, offering the steady absorption of cannabis concentrated through the small blood vessels on the cheek walls and underneath the tongue. This method of absorption helps the body absorb marijuana faster by boycotting the lengthy process of digestion.

Marijuana Savory Snacks

How about a range of marijuana-infused snacks? This option is popular in cultural gatherings where cannabis enthusiasts infuse different snacks with marijuana. Infused beef jerky and peanut butter are the most popular of these options. The flexibility this form of marijuana edible offers is also another thing: if you can’t find your favorite snack, you can always make one.

How Does Marijuana Work?

Marijuana exerts its effects on the human body mainly through its two main components – THC and CBD. When you consume marijuana, the components are quickly released during digestion and transferred into the bloodstream. If inhaled, these components enter the body and move into the blood. The level of components that survive from digestion to the bloodstream may vary in different humans. Both THC and CBD also dissolve rapidly in body tissues and are distributed to the brain and other vital organs. In the brain, THC acts on specialized cannabinoid receptors to produce marijuana’s characteristic ‘high.’ CBD, on the other hand, does not produce this effect. Instead, it exerts many therapeutic effects. CBD’s effects on the body are why marijuana is widely used in modern medicine. However, these effects are still largely under scientific investigation.

Effects of Marijuana Edibles

The effects of Marijuana on the body are mediated by both THC and CBD. THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and causes the characteristic ‘high’ you get from consuming marijuana edibles. So, to a large extent, the therapeutic effects of marijuana are mediated by cannabidiol (CBD).

Medicinal marijuana is widely prescribed as an analgesic. Early tests in animal models confirm that cannabinoids in marijuana can collectively block the body’s normal response to pain. This explains why marijuana is used as a complementary therapy option for the management of chronic pain. Cannabinoids also calm the mind, giving the user the needed relief from anxiety. At low doses, there is also evidence that marijuana can help relax the muscles. With its effects on the behavior, marijuana has also been proposed as a potential therapy option in the management of depression, and PTSD.

Side Effects of Marijuana Edibles

While marijuana seems to have many beneficial effects, there are also many side effects linked to its heavy use. Daily use of marijuana in high disease can worsen existing symptoms of bipolar disorders in many people. People who use marijuana regularly in unprescribed doses are also at risk of suicidal ideation and depression. Schizophrenia and psychosis are other mental health conditions linked to daily use of high marijuana doses. Smoking marijuana is linked to an increased risk of chronic cough and other complications of the respiratory system in humans. Heavy users are also at risk of lung cancer.

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Dr. Adil Maqbool (MD, MRCP)
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