Those new to cannabis edibles advised to ‘start low and go slow’

With cannabis edibles soon to enter the marketplace the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge Health Unit is advising the public that if they intend to try edibles they should “start low and go slow.”

Edibles extracts and topicals are legal in Canada as of Oct. 17 but will not be in licensed cannabis stores until mid-December at the earliest the health unit said as the federal government reviews and approves products for the public.

“While the new cannabis products will face strict regulations given their potential health and safety risks it’s also important for local residents to be aware of what is now available and how these substances may affect them” Catherine MacDonald the substances and harm reduction co-ordinator with HKPR Health Unit said in a press release. “Just like using tobacco and alcohol we urge people to be responsible if they choose to use any type of cannabis product. It’s all about moderation… start low and go slow.”

It’s been legal to smoke cannabis in Canada recreationally since 2018. What is new is edibles extracts and topicals.

The following is information provided by the health unit on these three products.

Edibles are products containing cannabis that people can eat or drink including beverages candy and baked goods. By law these cannabis edibles can only contain a maximum of 10 milligrams of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) per package. THC is one of the main compounds found in cannabis that can affect people’s brain function and ability to think as well as alter their mood and behaviour. It’s strongly recommended that individuals new to edibles or cannabis should look at the THC content of the product and start with edible cannabis products containing no more than 2.5 mg of THC. “Taking less will let you see how you feel before eating the entire 10 mg product” MacDonald advises.

Extracts include oils and pills that a person takes by mouth as well as oils used with a vaporizer to inhale. Cannabis extracts taken by mouth act much like edible products. Because their effects aren’t felt immediately it’s important to be patient and wait until you are comfortable with the effects before consuming more. Oils used for inhalation within a vaporizer will allow users to feel their effects more rapidly and should also be used carefully MacDonald says.

Topicals are cannabis products like ointments oils and creams that can be rubbed on the skin. Do not apply topical cannabis to damaged or open skin areas and be sure to wash hands after use to avoid getting any of the product in your eyes. Always follow the label for proper intended use.

Eating cannabis products affects the body in different ways than smoking it does. That’s why the health unit is reminding those who intend to try edibles to start with a small amount first to find out how it affects them. When you eat cannabis it takes the body longer to absorb the THC which can mean that the full effects can take between 30 minutes and four hours to take place.

“The intoxicating effects or ‘high’ of eating cannabis products will also last longer anywhere from six to eight hours” MacDonald said. “This makes it essential to only use cannabis products in safe environments free of responsibilities like caring for children being in the workplace or having to drive somewhere.”

Be sure to keep cannabis products separate from regular food to avoid confusion keep cannabis in child-proof containers stored out of reach of children and pets and do not consume cannabis if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

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