Today, the Canadian Medical Association Journal released a report on Cannabis edibles following the legalization of edibles in Canada in late 2019. Edibles are an increasingly popular form of consumption of nonmedical cannabis and includes baked goods, candies and beverages. Among the findings in the report by Jonathan S. Zipursky, Orly D. Bogler and Nathan M. Stall, were the numbers on the popularity of cannabis edibles. “More than 40% of North American nonmedical cannabis users consume edibles,” noted the report. This is a sharp increase from previous reports on edible cannabis use, but aligns closely with the legalization in Canada and in several US states.

The report also highlighted the risks with edibles as unfamiliarity with edible dosing and difficulties in dividing edibles can result in unintentional overdosing.

In Canada, regulated edibles must be sold in individual packaging containing no more than 10 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), although unregulated edibles can contain larger amounts of THC. A typical intoxicating dose of edibles contains 10–30 mg of THC. The impracticalities of dividing edibles into smaller portions (e.g., one-tenth of a 100-mg THC cookie) is a common reason for overdose.

Additionally, edibles have a long latency period and duration of action. Compared to inhaled cannabis, edibles have delayed peak effects of about 3 hours, and these effects may last up to 12 hours after ingestion. People accustomed to an instantaneous effect from inhaled cannabis may ingest excessive doses of edibles before peak effects have occurred (i.e., “dose stacking”).

Unlabeled or improperly stored edibles can also lead to unintentional exposure, which can be particularly dangerous for children. The report notes that, “Ingestion of edibles accounts for three-quarters of all cannabis-related exposures in children.” Similarities in taste and packaging between unregulated edibles and noncannabis foods and candies is a common reason for unintentional exposure. Fortunately, regulated edibles in Canada must be sold in child-resistant packaging with a standardized cannabis symbol and dose, and it is recommended that they be stored in locked locations in households with children.