What Are the Risks and Side Effects of Marijuana Edibles?

Last Updated on September 27, 2021

The popularity of marijuana edibles has recently increased with the legalization of marijuana in many different U.S. states. However, many people who consume these edibles do so without fully knowing the risks involved. Like any other drug, marijuana edibles can cause short-term and long-term side effects. They also carry the risk of overdose if someone takes too much or they are more potent than anticipated.

Before you consume any cannabis-infused food products, you should carefully consider the risks. If you’re already taking marijuana edibles but can’t control your usage, you might be showing other signs of addiction and likely need professional help to stop.

The caring treatment experts at Nova Recovery Center are here to help you recover from marijuana addiction. Please call (512) 605-2955 to learn more about our individualized drug rehab programs.

What Are Marijuana Edibles?

Marijuana edibles are cannabis-laced food products that contain either THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) or CBD (cannabidiol) or both.1 They can be homemade but many companies also manufacture them to be sold at dispensaries. Common forms of marijuana edibles are:

  • Baked goods like cookies, brownies, and biscuits
  • Candies like lollipops, gummies, hard candy, gum, chocolates, and fruit bars
  • Drinks like tea, coffee, beer, wine, and energy drinks
  • Other products like syrup, butter, and jerky

Due to the legalization of cannabis in many U.S. states, marijuana edibles have become much more popular. Smoking marijuana is still the most common way the drug is used, but many people who consume edibles are unaware of the risks.

How Much CBD or THC Is In Marijuana Edibles?

Most marijuana edibles sold by dispensaries are packaged in containers that clearly identify how much CBD or THC is in each product, but it varies depending on the product. Sometimes, the manufacturer will list the amount of CBD or THC contained in the entire package instead of just a single serving.

This can be confusing and consumers might be unclear about how much of the product is a single dose. In instances where the CBD or THC content is not clearly labeled or is incorrectly labeled, a person could easily take too much on accident and suffer negative side effects as a result.

Generally speaking, regulation and quality control of marijuana edible packaging are lacking so it’s difficult for consumers to determine how much they should use and what’s safe.

What Are the Risks of Marijuana Edibles?

Unlike smoking marijuana, edibles don’t carry the same respiratory risks, such as breathing problems and lung cancer. However, other serious risks come with consuming marijuana edibles.


Some types of marijuana edibles take longer to kick in because they’re absorbed through the digestive system, which takes time. Edibles can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to kick in depending on the type of edible and individual factors like your metabolism, diet, and cannabis tolerance.2 Since the effects of edibles don’t typically kick in right away, some people may take more soon after the first dose, which can increase their risk of taking too much and overdosing.

Unknown potency

As previously mentioned, it’s often difficult to gauge how much CBD or THC is in a single serving of a marijuana edible. As a result, you might experience more potent and powerful side effects than you anticipated. This can be very unpleasant or even dangerous, depending on the circumstances.

Harmful or unknown side effects

If you consume homemade edibles made by a dealer or a friend of a friend, you may not know what you’re consuming. Or, if you react poorly to the effects of marijuana, you might experience uncomfortable or dangerous side effects. Additionally, new research shows the consumption of potent edibles is associated with new medical complications and adverse effects we didn’t previously know marijuana could produce, such as irregular heartbeat or heart attack.3

Adverse health effects of regular cannabis use

If you consume marijuana edibles regularly, you could suffer adverse impacts such as:4

  • Impaired brain development
  • Poor heart health
  • Impaired memory and cognition
  • Poor psychiatric health

Long-term cannabis use has especially been shown to have adverse effects in teens. It can increase the risk of schizophrenia and impair learning and memory.5,6 Although marijuana edibles aren’t supposed to be used by teens, they can easily get them by purchasing them online or getting them from older friends and siblings. Medication interactions Marijuana edibles can also interact with alcohol or medications. The medications can make the effects of the THC more severe or the edibles can interfere with the medication’s efficacy.7

What Are the Side Effects of Marijuana Edibles?

Recent research has shown marijuana edibles have many negative side effects, including:

  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart attack
  • Vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Respiratory depression
  • Impaired motor abilities

Many of these side effects are also unpredictable and a person may not know how they’ll react to edibles until after they’ve already consumed them.

Treatment Options for Marijuana Addiction

Whether you consume marijuana gummies or prefer to smoke it, marijuana use can quickly become a serious problem. According to recent data, 30 percent of people who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder.8 People who start using marijuana before they’re 18-years old are also four to seven times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults.9 According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 4.3 million Americans ages 12 and up are addicted to marijuana.10

If you’re addicted to marijuana, you may not be able to stop using it even if it’s causing problems in your everyday life. You’re also likely to experience marijuana withdrawal symptoms when you stop using it. Common marijuana withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Decreased appetite
  • Cravings
  • Restlessness
  • Overall discomfort

Marijuana addiction treatment that is tailored to meet your specific needs can help you recover from marijuana addiction. At Nova Recovery Center, we offer several different rehab programs designed to help you through each stage of recovery.

  • Residential rehab: After detox, residential rehab is often ideal if you are severely addicted or have multiple addictions and have struggled with chronic relapse in the past. During inpatient rehab, you will attend treatment for at least 90 days and live onsite. All clients attend daily group sessions as well as regular individual therapy sessions and family therapy, among other specialized treatments and therapies. Treatment at Nova uses evidence-based and research-based methods to help you make positive behavioral changes and identify and treat the underlying issues that contributed to the addictive behavior.
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP): Nova offers an intensive outpatient program in Austin and Houston. IOP is a comprehensive addiction treatment program that you can complete while living at home or in a sober living home. You’ll attend several treatment sessions each week and complete program objectives set by our treatment professionals. Aspects of treatment remain the same as residential rehab, including the evidence-based methods used to treat addiction, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, and 12-Step facilitation therapy.
  • Online IOP: If you cannot attend treatment in-person or prefer not to, Nova offers online rehab. It’s a flexible and convenient treatment program that is tailored to your individual needs and can be completed from the comfort of home or anywhere else.

After treatment, the caring professionals at Nova will also recommend ongoing care through sober living home providers if they feel its’ best for you and will provide you with the best opportunity for sustained recovery.

Because of the discomfort of withdrawal, it can be difficult to quit marijuana on your own. If you’re suffering from the effects of marijuana addiction or withdrawal, the addiction treatment experts at Nova Recovery Center are here to help. Call (512) 605-2955 today to learn about our drug rehab programs that can help you achieve long-lasting sobriety.


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Nova Recovery Center is dedicated to helping you or your loved one get help. Please call or fill out this form for a confidential consultation. One of our understanding, dedicated advisors will contact you about your options. Begin healing today.

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