Cannabis & Psychiatric Side Effects

It’s so easy to buy cannabis products now, but should you use them? There is mounting evidence that psychiatric side effects are a greater concern for edible and high-potency cannabis products. Some forms and doses of cannabis pose greater risks, and should be avoided altogether.

Reports suggest that over 40% of recreational cannabis users consume edible products. Despite their popularity, ambiguous dosing and delayed effects can be a major problem, increasing the risk for unintended side effects and overdose. While inhaling cannabis results in an immediate effect, edible products may not produce effects for more than 3 hours, which can then last for many more hours. You should be cautious about this delayed effect –  consuming more cannabis while waiting for the initial effect can increase your risk of toxicity. You should be aware and understand that psychiatric and cardiovascular (heart) side effects appear to be more common with edible products. And edible products containing 50 mg of THC or more have been linked to psychosis, anxiety, and heart attack.

High-potency cannabis products are also becoming a major concern, particularly for adolescents. These products are increasingly available. Research shows that inhaling cannabis products containing 10% or more of THC is linked to increased risk for anxiety and cannabis use disorders. Adolescent users should understand these risks. And people with existing psychiatric disorders might be more likely to have their symptoms worsen, no matter what form of cannabis used. There’s a fair amount of observational evidence supporting this concern, despite the fact that cannabis is often recommended to help manage psychiatric disorders.

In general, chronic cannabis use is a growing concern. It’s important to learn and consider the risks of dependence and potential psychiatric effects, particularly for those already at risk for a psychiatric illness. It’s advisable to steer clear of high-potency products, and to use caution with edibles. And if pregnant, be aware that using cannabis in any form is unsafe – it’s been linked to developmental problems in baby, including lower intelligence and emotional problems.