Read before you eat, marijuana snack lovers. Makers, be careful with labels.
RTI International researchers warn in a new study published Wednesday that those “tasty” cannabis/marijuana edibles need better labels in order to ensure safety.
“We discovered that people think there is too much information listed on the labels of edibles, thus potentially overlooking important information on consumption advice” said Sheryl Cates, an author of the study and senior research policy analyst at RTI. “Our study also determined that labels often do not make it clear that the product contains marijuana, which can lead to accidental ingestion.”
RTI launched the study last November due to rising safety concerns as pro-marijuana legislation makes it legal across more of the country, as reported in detail by WRAL TechWire. The latest findings were published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.
Edible marijuana products include chocolates, candies, and cookies, RTI notes.
Researchers conclude that “changes to their labels are needed to ensure people know what they are consuming and that they are safely consuming the products.” Findings were based on data from four focus groups in Denver and Seattle, located in states that approved marijuana for recreational use in 2012.
RTI notes that some 40 percent of marijuana sales in Washington are made up of edibles, the study notes.
The researchers call for web-based and video education as well as graphics on labels.
Marijuana overdose concerns
In November, RTI cited “the frequency of cannabis overdoses and accidental pediatric exposures,” as the need for a research project.
On last election day, voters in eight more states and the District of Columbia backed recreational marijuana use, and more than 20 states have approved marijuana for medicinal use. But as more people eat up, RTI argues that the more study is needed to determine just what the effects of these resulting “highs” area.
“The many formulations of cannabis extracts used in edibles present a unique regulatory challenge for policy makers.” RTI scientists say.
“Edibles are often viewed as a safe, discreet and effective means of receiving the intoxicating and/or therapeutic effects of cannabis — such as alleviating anxiety or reducing pain — without the potentially harmful risks of smoking,” said Jenny Wiley, Ph.D., senior fellow of behavioral pharmacology at RTI who co-authored the original paper. “However, edibles come with their own set of risks.”
The paper warns that while “edibles are often considered a safe, discreet, and effective means of attaining the therapeutic and/or intoxicating effects of cannabis without exposure to the potentially harmful risks of cannabis smoking, little research has evaluated how ingestion differs from other methods of cannabis administration in terms of therapeutic efficacy, subjective effects, and safety.”