What are edibles?
There are many forms of cannabis edibles, including cakes, biscuits, sweets, chocolates, drinks and shakes. They usually contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC can produce pleasurable effects but can also cause anxiety and paranoia. CBD works on the pain and mood management areas of the brain and can help to balance out the unpleasant effects of THC.
However, cannabis edibles may contain other ingredients which could make them more harmful.
There are increasing numbers of reports in the media of cannabis edibles being available in the form of familiar-looking sweets. These illicit edibles claim to contain cannabis, especially THC, which is still a Class B drug in the UK.
CBD-only edibles are legal, and not associated with the “high” of THC-containing products. However, it is not possible to be sure of the exact contents of unregulated products.
What is being sold in the UK?
These “cannabis sweets” or edibles do not always contain what it states on the packet.
Empty packaging can be bought online and then anything placed inside them and sold on.
They may contain THC or they may contain other psychoactive ingredients such as Synthetic Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists (“spice”) or amphetamines.
They might also just be ordinary sweets. You cannot tell just by looking at a packet.
What are some of the risks?
They vary widely in their appearance, strength and content and are unregulated products.
They may not always contain what you think or what you have been told so don’t be fooled by appealing packaging.
This means that it’s difficult to know what the ingredients are or how much of the unknown ingredients you will ingest if you eat them.
Cannabis edibles take much longer to have an effect than smoked cannabis, the effects can also be stronger and last longer for the same amount.
It can take a few hours to feel the full effects. This can mean that people consume more than they would like before feeling the full effects and realising they have taken too much.
It is inadvisable to mix edibles with alcohol or other drugs. The interactions between substances cannot always be easily predicted and unwanted effects may be more likely to occur.
Regular cannabis use may cause unwanted effects, including memory impairment, mental health changes and dependence.
An overdose from cannabis edibles can involve paranoia, vomiting, hallucinations, panic attacks and impaired mobility but are not likely to be fatal on their own.
Problems are more likely to occur if edibles are taken in large amounts or at the same time as other substances.
What should you do if someone has consumed edibles and feels unwell?
If in doubt get help straight away. Call 999, put the individual into the recovery position and stay with them so that you can continue to monitor any changes to their symptoms.
Let the medics know what you think has been taken and provide as much information as you can so it will be easier to get them the right medical help quicker.
All of the information above and more is included in these two downloable leaflets below. If you are in Leeds you can order printed copies, free, from the Public Health Resource Centre.