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Eating marijuana was once just a novelty approach to getting high, done on special occasions. Someone would, say, read an article in High Times magazine on how to mix up a batch of pot brownies and then spent the next three days completely blasted out of their mind. But now that weed has gone legal in a number of states, opening the market up to a variety of products, cannabis edibles are just a regular part of the scene and becoming increasingly popular.

Some of the latest data shows that the edibles sector could be worth upwards of $4.1 billion by 2022. That’s a ton of cash for a product that we still do not know a lot about. This is just one of the reasons that scientists have been digging into this consumption method as of late, in hopes of learning more about how edibles might effect humans on a grand scale.

Researchers at the IUPUI and Indiana University in Bloomington recently rolled up their sleeves to study the effects of marijuana edibles, trying to get to the bottom of how marijuana might impact the whole of civil society if it is eventually given the freedom to consume THC in a manner similar to popping pills. The results, which were published in the latest journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, indicate that the population would probably become regular consumers of edibles. But would there be a significant trade off in the areas of health and safety?

The study, which consisted of a mice model, found the animals enjoyed being high more than living a sober existence. We can relate. When given the ability to self-administer a THC-infused dough (made of flour, sugar, salt, glycerol and THC) the mice reportedly opted to eat enough edible THC to alter their behavior. In other words, mice consumed marijuana edibles (1-10mg/kg) until they sunk into a headspace better than their existence without the drug. And they just kept coming back for more, the study shows. But just enough to feel the effects. The mice never went overboard.

But this affinity for edible weed was not without some minor repercussions. Researchers examined the mice becoming less active after they’d dose and their body temperatures decreased. Researchers believe this could mean that as pot edibles become more prevalent in society, more people might find themselves in a position where they are becoming dependent or even addicted. But they admit that more research is needed before they can get a grip.

“In contrast to other cannabinoid self-administration models, edible THC is relatively low in stress and uses a route of administration analogous to one used by humans,” the study authors wrote. “Potential applications include chronic THC self-administration, determining THC reward/reinforcement, and investigating consequences of oral THC use.”

The potential problem with edibles, according to lead study author Michael Smoker, an addiction neuroscience Ph.D. candidate, is that commercial manufactured cannabis edibles contain a higher concentration of THC than in its smokable form. And since we still do not know much about how this consumption method effects users, there could be an increased risk of addictive behaviors as marijuana legalization spreads.

But there is more to it than that. Researchers say there is also a need to find out how edibles affect people’s ability to think and gauge the long-term consequences, and what happens if a person abruptly stops taking THC in this form. And perhaps most important is determining the impact of these products if they are accidentally ingested by children. Some reports show that more kids are being admitted to the ER these days as a result of the accidental ingestion of THC.

Fortunately, the majority of the concerns surrounding edibles are easily managed. Parents who use edible forms of the herb must take it upon themselves to store their goodies in a safe and secure location where curious tots cannot sniff them out.

And when it comes to dosage, it should go without saying that knocking back 100mg of THC at once is probably not a great idea for most users. Most products being sold in legal states come with recommended dosages printed on their packaging. A smart consumer will heed these warnings and learn how edibles work for them before taking their dosage to the next level.

But sadly, we live in a society where the money of idiots and imbeciles also spends. These are the people diving into edibles with unbridled enthusiasm, only to find themselves nailed to the cross by a full-blown THC-induced canna-panic. Just as people must learn their limits when it comes to alcohol, the new pot consumer might need to endure some ups and downs with cannabis before learning how it fits in with their life.

TELL US, do you consume edibles on a regular basis?

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