MARIJUANA EDIBLES

May 16, 2017, Updated March 20, 2019

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Lawrenceville, NJ (Dr. Simone) – Does this packaging look familiar? So it would also to children in Colorado, Washington State, and soon in Alaska and Oregon.  Over-intoxication could be common because some of these products contain 4 or 5 times the “normal” amount that when ingested rather than smoked increases the metabolic effects of marijuana. The majority of marijuana related events of children forced to emergency rooms in Colorado were because of edibles.

So far the federal government, Food and Drug Administration and Justice Department, are not regulating edibles.  Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance which means it has a “high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical use, and is not safe even under medical supervision.”  The FDA cannot regulate it as a drug because it is a Schedule I substance.  But the FDA could consider marijuana edibles a food.  Foods must contain only what is “generally recognized as safe.” Clearly marijuana is not recognized as safe.  However, the FDA can’t regulate marijuana edibles sales because sales of marijuana are prohibited by federal law.

The Justice Department could enforce the Controlled Substance Act but considers this not a priority because the consumer is protected by state and local laws. However, the Justice Department can prosecute if it deems legalized marijuana is a threat to national interests such as distribution to minors.

Another avenue of control is through candy companies.  Hersey has sued for trademark infringement and prevailed against one of the edible manufacturers.

Hopefully it won’t take a child’s tragedy to get the federal government involved.

Who will pay for higher health costs and diminished capabilities for those who use it? The politicians and lobbyists who vote for its availability should be directly financially responsible.

Medical Facts (NEJM June 5, 2014; Eur J Emerg Med 2006)

  • Addiction to Marijuana and other substances is high

  • Abnormal Brain development

  • Respiratory insufficiency and Coma

  • Impaired short term memory, difficult to learn and retain information

  • Altered judgement that increases risk of sexually transmitted diseases

  • Progression to use of other drugs

  • Schizophrenia, paranoia, and psychosis (Marti et al The Lancet Psychiatry https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(19)30048-3/fulltext Mar 2019)

  • Depression or Anxiety

  • Diminished lifetime achievement : poor education outcome, high dropout rate, cognitive impairment, lower I.Q. for those who started using in adolescence.

  • Motor vehicle accidents – car crashes rose 6% from 2012 to 2017 in 4 states that legalized marijuana (Nevada, Colorado, Washington, Oregon) compared to 4 states that did not.

  • Symptoms of chronic bronchitis

  • Higher risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease

  • Effects of marijuana on athletic performance

Impairs skills requiring eye-hand coordination and a fast reaction time

Reduces motor coordination, tracking ability and perceptual accuracy that may last up to 24 to 36 hours after usage

Reduces maximal exercise capacity resulting in increased fatigue

Impairs concentration

Marijuana has no performance-enhancing potential

“I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” Barack Obama, President of the United States, The New Yorker Magazine January 27, 2014.

(c) 2017 Charles B Simone, M.MS., M.D.