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Cannabis edibles

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Edibles are food products infused with cannabis extract (1):

  • is any form of cannabis or its components—like delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD (cannabidiol)—that is ingested
  • edibles come in many forms—including baked goods, candies, gummies, chocolates, lozenges, and beverages—and may be homemade or prepared commercially for dispensaries
  • -9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is considered to be the major psychoactive ingredient of the cannabis plant responsible for the “high” that users experience

Edibles take time to start working (up to 2 hours to take effect and peak around 4 hours) (2):

  • effects can last up to 24 hours
    • delayed action makes it easy to take too many doses
    • a person may take extra cannabis edibles because they do not notice any immediate effect
    • added effects of multiple edibles may lead to substantial impairment and distress lasting for hours
    • THC absorption and metabolism via the gastroinestinal tract (1)
      • edibles introduce cannabinoids through the gastrointestinal tract
      • then absorbed into the bloodstream and travels via the portal vein to the liver, where it undergoes first-pass metabolism
      • conversion via liver enzymes (primarily the cytochrome P450 system) hydroxylate detla 9-THC to form 11-hydroxytetrahydrocannabinol (11-OH-THC), a potent psychoactive metabolite that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier
  • edible use is associated with increased risk of sudden psychiatric symptoms like delusions or paranoia leading to emergency department visits

A review states (2):

  • "..Many people use cannabis edibles with few or no negative health consequences. But harmful side effects such as confusion, falls, dizziness and imbalance, nausea and vomiting, impaired driving, addiction, and accidental exposure in children are possible. The strength and composition of edible cannabis products varies, and their effects can be unpredictable..."


  1. Barrus DG, Capogrossi KL, Cates SC, Gourdet CK, Peiper NC, Novak SP, Lefever TW, Wiley JL. Tasty THC: Promises and Challenges of Cannabis Edibles. Methods Rep RTI Press. 2016 Nov;2016:10.
  2. Zhang GY, Incze MA. I Am Curious About Cannabis Edibles—What Should I Know? JAMA Intern Med. Published online May 28, 2024. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2024.1676

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