After leading a senior man to have a heart attack are black market marijuana edibles safe?

Published Mar 22, 2019 11:47 a.m. ET

Since marijuana legalization came into full effect in Canada, we have seen hundreds of news stories suddenly popping up out of seemingly nowhere warning people of the hazards and worst-case scenarios for cannabis users. Particularly for those who choose to use less conventional methods of ingesting cannabis including tinctures, oil, and edibles. So what’s the deal here? Are there so many more people using marijuana edibles, or are the new products on the black market less safe than we initially thought? Well, folks, this is where things can get a little murky as you must delve into the experiences of both the legal and illegal marijuana edible consumers for real answers.

The story

The most recent story that ended on a rather serious note focused on a man who is 70 years old and decided to purchase a THC infused lollipop in hopes of obtaining a better night's rest. The THC edible he chose was labeled as 90 mg of THC, and he decided to wait until almost an hour before he wanted to sleep before eating it. This is where things began to take a turn for the worst as the elderly man experienced vivid hallucinations and excruciating chest pain. Once things escalated to the point of being unbearable, he called a member of his family to help, convinced he was going to die. He was rushed by ambulance to the hospital where doctors informed him he has suffered a massive heart attack with the THC infused edible being their number one suspect.  

Questions

Those who have used edibles in the past as well as anyone who has been hesitant watching and waiting for marijuana legalization to backfire rushed to throw in their opinions on social media platforms all over the world with common themes ringing clear. Those who dislike the idea of cannabis being a legal substance took an I told you so sort of stance, while the rest offered a myriad of questions that needed to be answered to reveal the whole truth. Things like where were the sucker was purchased, and if the man have any prior history with either THC or heart-related issues. While at first glance it seems that the edible was responsible for his near-death experience, taking a more in-depth look reveals some critically important facts to take into consideration.

The truth

The truth is that this gentleman was already experiencing heart problems for nearly a decade before this incident leaving him suffering from high blood pressure and a restricted diet in an attempt to control his symptoms. When he ate the 90 mg infused THC edible, it was his very first experience with cannabis products aside from a decade’s earlier incident where he reportedly smoked some with a friend. When you use THC your heart rate and blood pressure increase. It happens even more so when it is inhaled or taken orally in high doses by users with a low tolerance. This can be caused by the chemical itself, as well as the individual’s response to the effects that they feel. If a person feels overwhelmed, scared, or panicked, it only makes sense that blood pressure would spike leading to an increased risk of heart attacks. Since this man was already prone to heart-related issues, he probably shouldn’t have been consuming any highly concentrated cannabis products, so while the substance itself may have triggered the episode, it is very doubtful edibles are the only factor to blame.

How to safely consume marijuana edibles

Whether you are purchasing legal marijuana edibles or black market options, there are always things you should keep in mind to keep yourself safe while using cannabis to relax, have fun, or self-medicate. A little common sense can go a long way in protecting you from a bad experience while using THC.

1. Use small doses

The leading factor in the majority of these situations is the result of an individual who simply took way too much at one time. Smoking fresh herb is one of the least potent methods of consumption and is a great starting point for those who are just breaking into the cannabis scene. If smoking or vaping isn’t an option, then consider a THC tincture that can be easily measured and administered. Upping an individual's dose by 5 mg per day is the most that is recommended to achieve the best possible experiences with the substance.

2. Buy trusted

We do realize that not everyone has the option of legal marijuana edibles which is such a significant part of the problem with current legislation in Canada. It forces thousands of individuals to continue seeking treatment from unregulated sources. If you must buy from a grey or black market dispensary than stick with products that have a consistent customer rating online. There is no one that is more reliable than other cannabis friendlies. One of the most reported issues people experience when using edibles is caused by a product containing less, more, or an erratic and unpredictable amount of THC in their goods.

3.Tolerance

This is incredibly important and goes hand in hand with our first suggestion, to begin with, small doses. Many assume that because they can handle the effects of a regular joint, an experience with marijuana edibles will be no different. The average THC content in a dry cannabis bud is 20%, with most one gram joints containing an average of 5-10mg of THC. The lollipop in question from our story included 90 mg making it as potent as smoking almost ten individual joints in one sitting. The effects are also usually more intense and longer lasting when orally ingested, and all those things combined can make for a tremendous high or a terribly long uncomfortable one even without prior health issues.

4. Listen to your doctor

We know, not everyone wants to have that conversation with their family physician, but if you plan on ingesting any quantities of marijuana of THC infused edibles it is always best to check with them first. This is because cannabis can have adverse effects for those who are already suffering from heart or lung related issues, and due to THC and CBDs ability to interfere with many prescription medications. You don’t want your life-saving prescriptions to fail you, and no one wants to end up dead over a THC infused brownie, so be vigilant and thoroughly research any potential threats you may be faced with from using marijuana products.

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