What Are Edibles?

Medically Reviewed on 5/24/2022
What are edibles?
Although smoking marijuana is the most prevalent method of its use, eating marijuana edibles is quickly becoming a popular way to consume it.

Edibles are food products that are infused with marijuana or marijuana oils.

Examples of edibles

Any food product may be infused with marijuana and can be made at home (homemade) such as pot brownies and commercially prepared. Manufacturers can make and sell marijuana edibles in many forms such as:

  • Gummy candies
  • Baked goods such as biscuits and waffles
  • Lozenges
  • Beverages such as coffee, tea, iced tea, energy drinks, shots, beer, wine, and alcohol
  • Chocolates, truffles, fruit bars, and marshmallows
  • Sodas and juices
  • Cookies
  • Lollipops

In addition, marijuana can be used in the following ways:

  • Marijuana-infused cooking oil: Used when frying or searing food
  • Marijuana-infused butter: Spread directly on the prepared food

Marijuana edibles are more common in states that have legalized marijuana or those that permit medical marijuana use.

What is marijuana?

Marijuana is a recreational drug, known by its common scientific name cannabis and by a huge number of most common slang terms including:

  • Weed
  • Pot
  • Grass
  • Dope
  • Reefer
  • Ganja
  • Hash
  • Herb
  • Chronic

The marijuana effect is mainly caused by psychoactive ingredients called “tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)” and cannabidiol.

How is marijuana commonly used?

Although smoking marijuana is the most prevalent method of its use, recently, eating marijuana is quickly becoming a popular way to consume it.

The most common ways to use marijuana include:

  • Smoking cannabis involves using the dried bud portion of the plant called flower or nugget and smoking it in a pipe or a larger apparatus commonly referred to as a bong or rolling it up in paper such as a cigarette called a joint or blunt.
  • It can be vaporized in a small machine or handheld device called a vape pen that filters out some of the harsher elements of the plant, making it easier on the throat and lungs.
  • The extracted oil, known as CO2 oil, can be smoked and a solvent version of this oil is extracted with butane called BHO, nicknamed wax, butter, glass, shatter, or honeycomb, depending on the consistency of the substance.
  • This oil is prized for being purer and more potent, creating a more intense high.
  • Dabbing involves heating a special glass, steel, or quartz nail and touching either the oil or sticky residue of the oil to the nail, and inhaling the resulting smoke. 
  • Cannabis is used in some types of food forms, such as brownies, cookies, or lollipops.

According to Arcview Market Research, the cannabis industry is the fastest growing industry in the United States.

Vaping and edible use has increased among students, whereas marijuana smoking has decreased in recent years.


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Is eating marijuana more dangerous than smoking marijuana?

The consumption of marijuana has a higher potential for overdose than smoking it.

  • Smoking marijuana takes minutes to show effects. However, edibles take approximately one to three hours (time taken for food absorption into the bloodstream through the liver).
  • Because it takes quite a long time, the user may end up consuming a huge amount of the drug while thinking the already consumed amount of the drug is not effective. 
  • It is very difficult to measure the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, which is often present in an unknown amount in these edibles.
  • THC levels in the bloodstream can increase fivefold and may become dangerously high if the user has some other medications in their system (the metabolization of THC differs in this case).
  • Eating marijuana can cause more severe overdose symptoms than smoking marijuana.

5 negative effects of marijuana edibles

Five negative effects of marijuana edibles include:

  1. Psychotic episodes
  2. Hallucinations (perception of non-existing objects or events)
  3. Paranoia (an irrational and constant threat from others)
  4. Panic attacks 
  5. Impaired motor ability

Symptoms of using excess marijuana

Unfortunately, many people who consume edibles are unaware of the dangers associated with their use.

Some of the adverse effects associated with the consumption of edibles include:

Marijuana overdose can result in acute marijuana intoxication that occurs when you consume more marijuana than your body and brain can handle.

Do you feel high on edibles?

Initially, after consuming a marijuana edible, you may feel fine for several hours before feeling very high. 

Effects of marijuana usually occur within minutes of smoking, whereas it can take approximately 30 minutes to two hours to experience the effects of edibles.

Depending on the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol consumed, the amount and types of the last food eaten, and other drugs or alcohol used at the same time, the effects of marijuana edibles last much longer than smoking, usually up to several hours. Hence, you should wait for at least two to four hours after the first serving before consuming more.

What happens when you eat edibles?

Edibles cause a similar high or euphoric feeling as smoking cannabis. They are more potent in delivering cannabinoids. 

Research has shown that the effects of an edible may take up to an hour to kick in but can last for more than six hours.

One of the fatal consequences of consuming too much of the drug very quickly is that users can become violent or unaware of their actions, increasing the likelihood to cause self-harm or hurting others.


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How do they diagnose marijuana use disorder?

Depending on the number of symptoms present, a person is diagnosed with mild, moderate, or severe cannabis use disorder (CUD).

To be diagnosed with CUD, a person must manifest at least 2 of the 10 symptoms that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, sets forth, and they must occur in the same one-year period.

The 10 criteria that are the signs to watch for include:

  1. Loss of control: Using excess marijuana or using it for a longer period 
  2. Social impairments: Inability to engage in important work, social, hobbies, or recreational activities 
  3. Inability to stop: Desire to quit or reduce the amount of intake but not being able to do it
  4. Ignoring risks: Using marijuana despite being aware of its dangers 
  5. Cravings: Experiencing an uncontrolled urge to use marijuana when avoiding it
  6. Troubles in main spheres of life: Unable to perform to one’s familiar standard at home, work, or school
  7. Tolerance building: Needing more marijuana to get the desired, familiar effect
  8. Disregarding problems caused by use: Continuing to use the drug despite the negative effect that it is having on relationships
  9. Withdrawal: Emergence of withdrawal symptoms when stopping or even reducing the amount taken 
  10. Disproportionate focus: Dedicating excess time and resources to marijuana use

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Medically Reviewed on 5/24/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

Drug Alert: Marijuana Edibles Just Think Twice: https://www.justthinktwice.gov/article/drug-alert-marijuana-edibles#:~:text=Edibles%20are%20food%20products%20infused,way%20to%20consume%20the%20drug.

Nicknames for Marijuana and Slang for Pot American Addiction Centers: https://americanaddictioncenters.org/marijuana-rehab/slang-names

What Are Edibles? American Addiction Centers: https://americanaddictioncenters.org/marijuana-rehab/risks-of-edibles