Article by Camille Bains, Toronto Star
People who have never smoked marijuana could be most at risk of overdosing on cannabis-infused edibles that will soon be on store shelves across the country, warns a public health physician who says first-time users may keep noshing away while expecting a high, only to experience a racing heart, anxiety and panic attacks.
Dr. Lawrence Loh, adjunct professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, said overdose from overconsumption often means a trip to the emergency room for those who are unaware that feeling the mellow effects of pot from edibles can take several hours because of the time needed to digest and absorb food into the small intestine versus quickly inhaling the drug through the lungs.
Seniors are especially at risk because of a slower metabolism, Loh said of non-lethal overdose from edibles, which federal regulations limit to an individual serving size of a 10-milligram dose of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
“I think the big thing for anyone in the public, especially cannabis-naive individuals or people who have edibles around with children at home, is to first and foremost avoid overdosing,” Loh said.
“There’s psychotic reactions so people may lose touch with reality, sometimes in the form of hallucinations or delusions and also anxiety or panic attacks along with decreased judgment.”
Loh is co-author of a commentary published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on the health risks of cannabis edibles.
Short-term effects of edibles are not the only issue of concern, he said.
“There are still those longer term, chronic risks around edibles, particularly around addiction and also the risk of exacerbation of existing mental-health issues that we might be worried about in the longer run with cannabis edibles as well as any form of cannabis,” he said.