Legalizing Edibles Will Stop the Rise in Weed Overdoses
We’ve all had that one friend who got far too high for their own good. If you’re reading this, you probably have been that one friend… I know I was once…
In Ontario, the number of emergency room visits from THC poisoning has tripled from 449 in 2013-14 to almost 1500 in 2017-18. In Alberta, over a similar period of time, that number has doubled from 431 to 832. Caution and context are necessary when approaching these statistics. Before the reefer madness style panic sets in, it is important to know that alcohol was responsible for 77,000 trips to the er in 2015-16, and many of these were fatal.
As many of you may know, edible marijuana has been banned by the Canadian government until further notice. Following the old school formula of drug enforcement = fewer drug overdoses, this might seem like a no-brainer. However with the prohibition of marijuana edibles, one can expect the exact inverse effect. In fact, legalizing edibles will stop this rise in weed overdoses.
Rise in Weed Overdoses… Not as Bad as It Sounds
Weed overdose might be a bit of a misnomer. When one thinks of an overdose, the first thing to come to mind is often tragic instances of over-consumption of heroin or perhaps cocaine. Frothing at the mouth, convulsions, and in some cases death. This does not resemble what happens when you consume too much cannabis.
You cannot die from having too much weed. So long as a healthy, neurotypical adult is concerned the LD50 for cannabis is ridiculously high. You would likely have to smoke your own body weight in cannabis in a single sitting. You would much more likely pass out into a bizarre dreamless trance before that you even came close to dying.
So what exactly are we dealing with here? In extreme cases, excess cannabis consumption can result in a multitude of easily identifiable symptoms. A spike in heart rate and blood pressure are expected. These are often accompanied by vomiting, anxiety or even paranoia and psychosis. If you’ve experienced this state, you surely know just how unpleasant it can be.
How Is Keeping Edibles Ilegal Causing the Problem?
With cannabis becoming more prevalent, edibles are becoming more universal. However many of these products lack proper regulations to keep the consumer safe. Chief amongst these are proper warning labels, information on safe dosing, and an indication of how much THC the product contains.
These three things will go a long way as far as the recent spike in greening out is concerned. Imagine a world in which booze had no indication of the alcohol content in it. That 77,000 number might be significantly higher.
Lag in Public Health and Education
With legality comes the government’s recognition and seal of approval. This process is generally accompanied by programs that are designed to educate and inform the consumer. A warning label is only one facet of the issue. Sure… there’s 360mg of THC in this little bottle of honey… But what does that mean?
Those of you who consume cannabis might be fully aware that you have just bought yourself a one-way ticket to Mars on a Russian Soyuz rocket (depicted below)… But not everyone will. For a frame of reference, go tell one of your non-pot-smoking friends you have a 360mg edible then observe their blank, listless gaze.
Despite the inevitability of legalization, drug education is operating at a significant lag in Canada. As a result, drug education is stuck in the draconian, ‘drugs are bad M’kay?’ phase. The various governmental bodies of Canada have endlessly slaved away at the minutia of how to enforce, criminalize, market and regulate… But not to educate.
Top medical officials such as Ian Culbert of the Canadian Public Health Association are not impressed by the status quo and have voiced their concerns over the vacuum of relevant cannabis information in Canada.
“I would have liked to have seen public health messaging starting as soon as the bill passed, if not sooner than that. We’ve known that this was coming — at the federal level the Liberals have a majority, we knew that it was going to pass. That [public health] information should have started immediately.”
Cannabis is one of the most essential medicines and safest recreational drugs we possess. However, even the most valuable medicines come with warnings and instructions from doctors and pharmacists. Likewise, alcohol is carefully regulated and comes with crucial relevant, accompanying information.
In failing to come out with relevant and effective education, the provincial and federal governments have taken a massive L, and failed the voting public immensely.
By: Stefan Hosko