Can You Overdose on Edibles? - Mandala Healing Center
Edibles have been in the news recently as more states begin to consider decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana. For example, Minnesota made THC-infused drinks and edibles legal in 2022, then went on to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2023.
As more people across the country gain access to edibles, it’s important to understand the effects and risks of these products. Many people consider edibles a safe and effective way to consume THC and experience its intoxicating effects. However, many consumers may be unaware of the differences between how edible marijuana is metabolized compared to smoking it.
Understanding the risks associated with THC edibles and being aware of the risk of THC overdose is critical. This article will examine whether it’s possible to overdose on edibles, the risk factors of using this form of marijuana, and how to identify a THC overdose.
Contact the Mandala Healing Center team to learn about our holistic approach to substance abuse treatment or to find support at any stage of your recovery journey.
What are Edibles?
The term “edibles” describes any food or drink product that contains marijuana extract. THC edibles are available in many forms, including both commercially made and homemade goods. Some common forms of THC Edibles include:
- Cooking oils or butter
- Baked goods
The risk of marijuana toxicity and THC overdose is higher when consuming food and beverages containing THC than smoking marijuana. People who are familiar with the effects of smoking marijuana may be surprised at the intensity and duration of the effects they experience when consuming THC edibles.
The Effects and Risks of Edibles
The effects of THC edibles usually develop within 30 minutes to an hour, but some users may wait up to 2 hours before experiencing psychoactive effects. These effects may last up to 8 hours, which is much longer than ways of consuming marijuana.
When people smoke marijuana, THC reaches the brain very quickly. People may experience effects within 30 minutes. Effects typically last for one to three hours.
Consuming THC edibles can delay the development of marijuana’s effects, making it challenging for people to control how much THC they ingest. The effects of THC edibles may also be more intense or last longer than expected. The intensity and duration of a “high” depends on several factors, including:
- The amount of THC ingested
- Medications, alcohol, and other substances used at the same time
- The amount of food a person has eaten and how long it has been since they ate
People may mistakenly consume higher amounts of THC than intended if they do not feel the effects of earlier doses. This puts people at risk of experiencing a THC overdose. While an overdose on edibles is not likely to be fatal, it can be very uncomfortable or disturbing. People may experience psychosis and physical injury from erratic behaviors.
Can You Overdose on Edibles?
A THC overdose is possible from consuming edibles. Consuming THC in edibles is more likely to lead to a THC overdose than smoking marijuana because of the delayed effects, intensity and duration of the effects, and the difficulty of managing your dose.
Symptoms of a THC overdose include:
- Loss of motor control
- Extreme sedation
- Panic or fear
- Cardiac stress
- Poor cognitive functioning
- Psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions
If you or someone near you is experiencing a THC overdose, call 911 immediately and wait for help.
Reducing Your Risk of THC Overdose
It can be difficult or impossible to know the dosage of THC in an edible. Even in commercially produced THC edibles, the potency can vary from batch to batch and is often not carefully regulated. The risk of THC overdose may be higher in homemade goods, where there is very little oversight during production.
Another common problem is that THC edibles are often sold in multi-dose surveys. For example, a commercially produced THC-infused chocolate bar may contain multiple servings and may not be clearly marked. People may unintentionally overdose on edibles if they consume multiple servings of a THC-laced product.
Edible use is increasing as states begin to legalize marijuana and THC products. Research shows that young people consume more THC edibles while smoking marijuana less frequently. Teenage users are also more likely to use edibles every day, whereas people who smoke marijuana may use it less often.
Finally, the risk of accidental THC overdose in children is high because THC edibles often look like candy or gummies. Children may overdose on edibles without understanding what they are consuming. Anyone using edibles must keep them locked up and out of children’s reach, just as they would with any dangerous medication.
Reduce Your Risk of THC Overdose
Limiting your cannabis use, especially THC edibles, is critical to avoiding a THC overdose. If you or someone you love struggles to control their THC consumption, it may be a sign that you need professional help and ongoing support to live a healthy, sober lifestyle.
Effective substance abuse treatment is available at the Mandala Healing Center. Contact our specialists today to get started in one of our holistic addiction treatment programs.
- NPR: Minnesota legalized THC edibles and infused drinks … by accident? Retrieved October 2023 from https://www.npr.org/2022/07/03/1109607674/minnesota-legalized-thc-edibles-and-infused-drinks-by-accident
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Marijuana and Public Health, Retrieved October 2023 from https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/health-effects/poisoning.html