Poison control centers across America are being flooded with cannabis-related calls in the wake of legalization.
Cannabis edibles are one of the fastest growing product segments in the legal marijuana market. The fact that edibles allow you to consume cannabis in a discreet manner - and without the potential health risks of smoking it - make THC-infused foods a popular choice for many people.
However, they certainly aren't without their risks. Because edibles don't kick in as fast as joints, inexperienced consumers are prone to accidentally consuming much more than they need. That sort of incident appears to be increasingly common in the age of legalization. Calls to state poison control centres about marijuana edibles saw a massive jump from 23 in 2016 to over 700 in 2017, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).
"We have found, as the marijuana laws have changed, which includes legalization of marijuana in other states, we have seen more of these types of cases," GBI spokesperson Nelly Miles told Fox 6 Now.
The massive influx of calls is particularly concerning because many of them are coming from schools concerning students who have eaten edibles.
"The main concern is that a lot of times, these types of cases are showing up in our school systems," Miles said.
But experts aren't sure if more people are actually overdoing it on edibles. Legalization has had the dual effect of increasing cannabis consumption nationwide while also reducing stigmas around cannabis use. So people could be overdoing it on edibles more than ever, or they might just be more willing to admit to their mistake now that cannabis is no longer prohibited in their state. Basically, people are a lot more likely to admit that they did something foolish (e.g. eating too many pot brownies) when they're not at risk of legal repercussions. So this spike in cannabis-related calls to poison control centres could actually mean that people are just more open about the reason for seeking help from healthcare professionals.
That said, it's clear that states need to invest more in cannabis education to prevent inexperienced consumers from having to call poison control for help in the first place. Inexperienced consumers need to understand how long it takes an edible to kick in and the negative effects that overdoing it can have on them - and their pets. There has also been a huge increase in the number of marijuana-related calls made to the Poison Control Center run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Poison Control Center. So consumers who are also parents and pet owners could benefit from some tips on eating edibles, as well as how to store cannabis products in places where children and Fido can’t get into them.