Health & Wellness

Brownies That Get You High Are Coming

If you plan to try edible cannabis, be very careful

Photo: iStock/Fudio.

If you’ve never tried cannabis before and are curious but don’t like the idea of smoking, you might be inclined to try some pot brownies when they hit the legal market in December. A word of caution: cannabis edibles can be very potent. And that can be dangerous if you’re someone already at risk for a fall.

Before you go out and buy candy or chocolates laced with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol—the psychoactive stuff in cannabis that gets you high), you should know that edibles get you much higher than smoking will. And edibles, when consumed in excess, can have an unpleasant psychedelic effect that a user may not be expecting.

Though not as harmful on the lungs as tobacco is, smoking cannabis will still damage your lungs, with studies showing that chronic smokers are more likely to have bronchitis. For older smokers concerned about keeping their lungs fit, edibles may seem a healthier option, but how can they be used responsibly?

First, it’s important that you know how much THC is in what you’re buying. If someone home-bakes a batch of brownies, you won’t know how much is in there. At provincial pot shops, however, employees will be able to walk you through the different types of edibles they have and how they vary in potency.

Experts recommend that first-timers should begin by consuming edibles with only 1.5 to 2 mg of THC. Keep in mind if you eat them on an empty stomach, they might hit you harder. Don’t get impatient. The drug needs to be digested, and that means it’ll take time for it to take effect—at least half an hour, but for some it can take up to two hours, a delay that can cause many people to eat to excess.

Make sure your schedule is cleared. If you feel overwhelmed by the experience, go somewhere relaxing. Stay hydrated and well fed, and consider going to sleep.

“I’ve heard people say you can’t overdose on cannabis, but I think the more accurate statement is you can’t fatally overdose,” says Jason Busse, the associate director of the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON. “You certainly can take more than you intended to and find yourself in a situation in which you can even experience psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations. Every year, we see hospital emergency department visits for cannabis-related issues.”

Be careful. The effects will pass in time, but there’s no magic drug that can be given to you at a hospital to reverse the effects of the drug.