The study is the first to dive deep into adverse health outcomes from cannabis based on “route of exposure” — how the drug is consumed.
Cannabis is most commonly smoked, but it can be administered in other ways as well, including being eaten.
The drug’s effects on the body, it’s uptake (how long it takes to feel the effects), and duration are all affected by route of administration.
There were stark differences in emergency room patients’ symptoms based on whether they’d eaten or smoked cannabis. Edibles were more likely to induce acute psychiatric events, such as anxiety or panic attacks.
The most frequent reason for smoked cannabis to put users in the emergency room: cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, which results in repeated or cyclic vomiting that’s difficult to treat.
The study’s authors say that while smoked cannabis puts more people in emergency rooms in total, it’s clear that cannabis edibles are more likely to produce adverse health outcomes.
“There are more adverse drug events associated on a milligram per milligram basis of THC when it comes in form of edibles versus an inhaled cannabis,” Monte said. “If 1,000 people smoked pot and 1,000 people at the same dose in an edible, then more people would have more adverse drug events from edible cannabis.”
The question of why edibles have a disproportionately high number of these outcomes isn’t clear from the report.
It’s not uncommon to hear stories of users taking doses that are far too high or unintentionally taking too many doses at once.
“This may be because people who are impacted by the edible’s toxicity are naive users that haven’t had the experience before,” Baler said.
When eaten, cannabis takes a much longer time to kick in, and the high lasts longer. When marijuana is smoked, effects are noticeable almost immediately, with peak blood