Stanford law professors Rob MacCoun and Michelle Mello write in a new article in the New England Journal of Medicine
that marijuana edibles — which look like snacks and are often highly potent — lack appropriate regulations
in medical and recreational marijuana states.
Due to poor packaging and labeling, it’s way too easy to over-consume THC — the main active ingredient in marijuana, they find. The products also evoke the legal definition of “attractive nuisance
” with packages that seemingly go out of their way to look enticing to children.
Given their report, “Half-Baked — the Retail Promotion of Marijuana Edibles,” here are five consumer tips for buying marijuana-infused food in this laissez-faire world.
1) Don’t buy anything without clear labeling. THC comes in milligrams and one “dose” of THC is ten milligrams. For people with a low tolerance to cannabis, eat no more than five milligrams.
“Whereas consumers commonly assume that a candy bar constitutes a single serving, some of these products contain four or more times the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that is considered to be a safe dose.” More like ten or twenty times a normal dose. At high doses, THC can produce anxiety and sensory overload.
2) Don’t buy anything without nutrition and ingredients information — another sign of professionalism and compliance with state law.
3) Does the label look like a rip-off of a major brand? That’s probably trademark infringement and is another sign of a poorly thought-out, unprofessional edibles product. Don’t buy it.
DEA via NEJOM
Trademark infringing cannabis edibles (above) are a warning sign of unprofessionalism.
4) Get something with child-resistant packaging. Most edibles do not come with child-resistant packaging, so you’re going to need to put it in a lockable pouch where kids cannot open it. This goes double if the food needs to be refrigerated.
5) Lastly, remember: orally ingested THC has stronger, longer-lasting effects than the equivalent amount of inhaled THC. In a way, smoking joints are way safer because you have a puff, giving you a chance to realize that one is enough and stop. Conversely edibles effects can take an hour or two to begin, and last for four to six hours.
If citizens can’t play safe and smart with edibles: the government will step in. The Stanford professors suggest controlling and standardizing THC content (Massachusetts lawmakers want to cap THC in an edible at 20 milligrams). Or they could ban any edible that might appeal to children. “Restricting the extent to which marijuana edibles can look and taste like familiar sweets could also keep the psychological barriers to marijuana initiation among children and adolescents from being lowered," they write.
In theory, we could be stuck with rules mandating that edibles only appeal to adults, with flavors like blue cheese, salted kale, roasted garlic, Sriratcha, scotch whiskey, and olive.
Lastly, a word on perspective
. You cannot overdose on THC. But you can overdose on a product that's probably already in your house: alcohol. Deaths from excessive alcohol consumption will total about 88,000
Millions of us will drink too much alcohol this weekend. We'll feel nauseous, the room might spin, we might have "psychotic-like" symptoms like intense anger and confusion. Then we'll vomit, collapse unconscious, wake up soiled and ill, and feel sick until we have another drink in the afternoon. We call all these pathologies good old fashioned American drinking culture. But god forbid a cookie makes you feel a little funny. Call the regulators.