Edibles, or food and drink products infused with marijuana, have some different risks than smoked marijuana, including a greater risk of poisoning. Unlike smoked marijuana, edibles can:

  • Take from 30 minutes to 2 hours to take effect,1 so some people may eat too much, which can lead to poisoning and/or serious injury.
  • Cause intoxicating effects that last longer than expected, depending on the amount ingested, the last food eaten, and medications or alcohol used at the same time.
  • Be unpredictable. The amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or the concentration or strength, is very difficult to measure and is often unknown in edible products. Many people who use edibles can be caught off-guard by their strength and long-lasting effects.

Children, adults, and pets can mistake marijuana products, particularly edibles, for regular food or candy. Consuming marijuana can make children very sick. They may have problems walking or sitting up or may have a hard time breathing. Since marijuana use has been legalized in some states, accidental marijuana poisonings in children have increased, sometimes requiring visits to the emergency room or hospitalization.2

  1. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids: the current state of evidence and recommendations for research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2017.
  2. Richards JR, Smith NE, Moulin AK. Unintentional cannabis ingestion in children: a systematic review. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2017;190:142-152.