Food products containing cannabis extract (edibles) have emerged as a popular and lucrative facet of the legalized market for both recreational and medicinal cannabis. The many formulations of cannabis extracts used in edibles present a unique regulatory challenge for policy makers. Though edibles are often considered a safe, discreet, and effective means of attaining the therapeutic and/or intoxicating effects of cannabis without exposure to the potentially harmful risks of cannabis smoking, little research has evaluated how ingestion differs from other methods of cannabis administration in terms of therapeutic efficacy, subjective effects, and safety. The most prominent difference between ingestion and inhalation of cannabis extracts is the delayed onset of drug effect with ingestion. Consumers often do not understand this aspect of edible use and may consume a greater than intended amount of drug before the drug has taken effect, often resulting in profoundly adverse effects. Written for the educated layperson and for policy makers, this paper explores the current state of research regarding edibles, highlighting the promises and challenges that edibles present to both users and policy makers, and describes the approaches that four states in which recreational cannabis use is legal have taken regarding regulating edibles.
November 2016 Open Access Peer Reviewed
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