Uses, Benefits and Side-Effects of Cannabis Edibles

Uses, Benefits and Side-Effects of Cannabis Edibles

Some like to smoke it. Others want to vape it. And even others like to rub it on. Cannabis in all its forms is the key to many pleasures for millions of users.

Legalization in many United States is blowing away the lingering stigma. But, marijuana marketed to medical patients is the real groundbreaker. States still resistant to adult- or recreational use have opened their legislatures to medical marijuana.

Of course, medical marijuana can cover the purchase of cannabis flowers for traditional smoking. But cannabis edibles are the way to go. So, just what are the uses, benefits, and side-effects of cannabis edibles?


The "edibles" category hosts various cannabis delivery methods. If you are looking for the therapeutic effects of THC and CBD in a convenient, discrete, and delicious, edibles are the way to go. More investors, manufacturers, and retailers are taking that path.

Research and anecdotal reports find that edible cannabis will reduce vomiting in patients undergoing chemo. It will ease nausea and appetite loss in people living with HIV/AIDS. Anti-inflammatory properties will treat arthritis, chronic pain, neurological problems, and spasticity. And some research shows cannabis destroys tumors in brain cancer patients.

Creative people have packaged edibles as cookies, brownies, candies, and lozenges. Creative cooks have worked cannabis into recipes that fill many cookbooks. Turned into butter, it can infuse countless edible options.

Analysts identify 85 different cannabinoids that interact with the endocannabinoid system, which functions throughout the human body. The cannabis plant secretes the fabled cannabinoids THC and CBD. THC, of course, produces the psychoactive experience sought by many users. CBD produces the body's response to relaxation and medication. Edibles favor CBD, but some balance it with a touch of THC to add to the experience.


Medical marijuana dispensaries carry brownies, chews, chocolates, cookies, gummies, lollipops, mints, toffee, and truffles. There are also flavored drinks, colas, coffees, and teas. Innovations include crispy kief, fruit snacks, macaroons, kief jerky, coated marshmallows, flavored nuts, and orange creamsicles.

What's interesting is the branding that edibles are driving: new packaging, new ideas, and new names. Edibles are positioned to make a difference in the medical marijuana dispensary. But with their color and celebrity endorsements, they may also change the direction of the recreational use markets.

Cannabis can infuse almost any edible substance. It is specifically oil-soluble, making butter for recipes, oils to mix with ingredients, and tinctures to apply under the tongue. So, in all their forms, edibles can please casual users at one end of the spectrum to incapacitated medical patients in the hands of caregivers.


Inhaling marijuana smoke leaches the cannabinoids through the lungs and into the bloodstream for a reasonably immediate effect. Ingesting cannabis starts its influence in the gastrointestinal system, where the liver processes it into a stronger 11-hydroxy-THC. So, it may take longer for you to notice the effects, but they can be more robust.

  • Eating cannabis is not so harsh on the lungs. Smokers risk inhaling other toxins that can damage the lungs.
  • Edibles better serve those people who cannot smoke because of existing illness or don't like smoking as a habit.
  • While the THC high hits the brain, the edible high is more sedative and relaxing, a "body" high that eases pain and suffering with a laid-back chill.
  • Edibles take longer to produce a reaction but will last longer (3 to 7 hours). I will also feel more intense, thus reducing the need to dose frequently.
  • Marijuana medical professionals recommend edibles for patients who have insomnia, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or some problems with the liver or digestive tract.
  • For those who want or need the benefit of marijuana throughout the day without messing with their workday or focus, edibles can be consumed as discretely as candy, protein bars, or hot or cold beverages.


The Washington Times reports, "Government health experts warn in a new report that the risks of consuming marijuana-infused edibles like weed brownies and other snacks mustn't be understated following the suicide last year of a man whose death has been blamed on pot."

Novices must be careful when trying edibles. They risk overdosing by consuming too much too quickly. They consume too much for several reasons:

  • The package and labeling are not transparent or accurate about contents or dosing.
  • Because edibles are slower to take effect, it temps users to consumers more than recommended.
  • Edibles taste so good that consumers want more.

You want to shop carefully for packaged products. You need to know the contents, including the ratio and richness of THC and CBD. New consumers should start with only 5-10 milligrams of edibles. You can build on that as you get comfortable with the effects.

This is important when a single brownie or chocolate candy could contain more than that. It would help to eat only portions until your body tells you your tolerance. The side effects include:

  • Increased anxiety and paranoia are likely to pass with time, but it is a sign you are consuming too much at a time.
  • Dry mouth is not unusual anymore than it is with smoking, and hydration can fix that.
  • Sleepiness and laziness may take over if you overdose, but enjoy the rest and drink some extra water.


Writing for Alternet, Phillip Smith warns, "And these aren't your father's edibles." Innovators are pushing new products to market, but their consumers are taking risks without standardized labeling requirements.

Consumers also must worry about how much cannabis is worked into home-cooked products. You don't want to eat anything you are not fully informed about. It would help if you studied before you leap into this delicious but slightly risky treat.

Without serious research, the uses, benefits, and side effects of cannabis edibles leave some questions. For example, there is no definitive work on how edible cannabis might interact with other foods or medications. And there is no dosage specific to certain medical conditions. Still, these unknowns are not likely to dampen the market's willingness to try these tasty, soothing, and convenient treats.