Drug Alert: Marijuana Edibles


What is it?

Edibles are food products infused with marijuana. Though smoking marijuana is the most prevalent method of consumption, eating marijuana is quickly becoming a popular way to consume the drug.

Brownies are among the most common food products infused with marijuana, however, almost any food product may be infused with marijuana and eaten.

In addition to placing marijuana directly in food, marijuana-infused cooking oil can be used when frying or searing food, and marijuana-infused butter can be spread directly on prepared food.

These marijuana edibles are more common in states that have legalized marijuana and also states that permit medical marijuana use.

Is eating marijuana more dangerous than smoking marijuana? 

YES! The four facts listed below explain why there is a higher potential for overdose after consuming edibles.

  1. Edibles are absorbed into the bloodstream through the liver, so the effects on the user may take up to 1-3 hours to occur. With smoking, the effects on the user usually occur in 3-10 minutes. Because the effects of edibles take longer to surface, the user may consume larger amounts of the drug.
  2. It is very difficult to measure dosage units in marijuana edibles. The amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, is often unknown in these food products.  
  3. If the user has other medications in their system, the amount of THC that is metabolized by their body can be altered, and levels of THC in the bloodstream can increase five-fold.
  4. Symptoms of an overdose from eating marijuana are often more severe than symptoms of an overdose from smoking marijuana.

What are the negative effects of marijuana edibles?

  • Psychotic episodes
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
  • Impaired motor ability

Are marijuana edibles frequently used?

Marijuana is frequently consumed as an edible, and edibles are more prevalent in states with medical marijuana. Among 12th graders who used marijuana in the past year, 40 percent reported having consumed it in edible form in medical marijuana states, versus 26% in non-medical marijuana states. (Source: NIDA, 2014 Monitoring the Future Study)