Marijuana Edibles May Not Be as Safe as Presumed, Doctors Argue
Consuming marijuana edibles may not be as risk-free as some like to believe, Canadian doctors argue.
There is still much left to be discovered about marijuana and its effects. Cannabis edibles take an average of around four hours longer to produce noticeable effects when compared to inhaled cannabis, which the authors of a commentary titled Health considerations of the legalization of cannabis edibles argue can lead to its overconsumption. Furthermore, the effects of cannabis consumption can last up to eight hours, leading to a much longer period of impairment. These factors create a heightened risk in "cannabis-naïve individuals" like children, older people or pets who may mistake edibles for candy or other food.
Cannabis sativa is a plant that contains more than 80 different naturally occurring compounds called "cannabinoids," most well-known are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), according to the U.S. Federal Drug Administration. Marijuana edibles are products containing CBD or THC made for ingestion, which produce a variety of effects depending on the dosage, chemical makeup and individual response to the product.
"Although edibles are commonly viewed as a safer and more desirable alternative to smoked or vaped cannabis, physicians and the public should be aware of several risks related to the use of cannabis edibles," wrote by physicians Jasleen Grewal and Lawrence Loh in the commentary published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
In 2018, the northern nation became the first major world economy to legalize recreational marijuana in what that was likened to the ending of alcohol prohibition in the U.S, reported The New York Times. In October of last year, Canada amended its cannabis regulations to authorize the legal production and sale of cannabis edibles.
In light of these new regulations, the use of marijuana is prevalent. A 2019 National Cannabis Survey found that more than one-in-four respondents in Canada had used cannabis in the previous three months and consumed edibles. By comparison, Reuters reports that one-in-seven American adults reported using marijuana in 2017. However, that proportion went up dramatically for respondents who lived in states where marijuana was completely legal.
As of the beginning of this year, Business Insider reports there are 11 states with both legalized recreational and medical marijuana for adults over the age of 21, and 33 states that allow marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, legislation regarding the distribution, sale, use and growing largely vary between state governments and federal prohibition is still in effect, which means that in the U.S. there little regulatory oversight when it comes to safety regulations and consumer cautions. (Though Forbes reports that there have been congressional moves in recent months to legalize marijuana at a federal level.)
"After legalization of cannabis edibles in Colorado, the state poison control center saw a 70 percent increase in calls for accidental cannabis exposure in children from 2013 to 2017, and studies of health care usage reported more children than adults being treated for ingestion incidents," write the authors.
The authors argue that information available on edibles can be misleading and may run counter to what evidence suggests. A recent survey by the Canadian Center on Substance Use and Addiction found that younger consumers believe that cannabis edibles have a positive effect on mood, anxiety and sleep. Though the controversial plant has been linked to health benefits for many conditions, long-term consumption is also associated with adverse effects like panic attacks and psychosis.
The authors do not suggest banning marijuana, but instead argue that doctors and consumers should be aware of the effects of marijuana and should follow federal regulations regarding its use.
"Physicians should routinely question patients who ask about cannabis about their use or intended use of edible cannabis products so that they can counsel these patients regarding child safety, potential for accidental overconsumption and delayed effects, and potential for interactions with other substances such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, sleeping aids and opioids," caution the authors.
Additionally, the authors note that state efforts should continue to monitor cannabis use and continue evaluating the effects of legalized edibles to ensure that regulations are met and the most vulnerable groups are protected.
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A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
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