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Will eating marijuana edibles on a regular basis damage your body or mind?

For some people, smoking is not an option. Whether it be due to chronic illnesses like asthma or merely maintaining lung health in general, some choose to avoid inhaling anything other than air. Fortunately for those non-smokers who enjoy partaking in marijuana, there are such things as edibles. 


The term ‘edibles’ refers to any cannabis products that are ingested instead of inhaled. Edibles are praised for their longevity and absorption rate, making them worthwhile in terms of cost-effectiveness. 


If you’re in the habit of buying edibles online in Canada, you’ll know that your body reacts differently to them than inhaled marijuana. As with anything that seems too good to be true, it raises the question: are edibles safe to take on a regular basis?

How Do Cannabinoids Work in the Body?


Cannabis plants have many wonderful features: big chunky buds, sparkly crystals, and fan-like leaves that glow greener than the Irish countryside. They are also host to a selection of features we can’t see. 


Molecules called cannabinoids exist within cannabis plants; they are the compounds that lend their effects to the human body upon consumption. While there are 113 known cannabinoids, most of the focus lands on the two most common: THC and CBD.


How do these cannabinoids connect to the human body? All animals have an endocannabinoid system (ES) in their bodies. This system creates and distributes endocannabinoids to receptors within the body to regulate basic bodily maintenance (immune system, mood, and so on). 


When external cannabinoids are introduced to the body (i.e. via smoking or eating cannabis products), they act on the ES alongside the internally produced endocannabinoids. Since the cannabinoids found in marijuana match those made by the human body almost perfectly, their effects can be quite profound. 

Eating vs. Smoking Weed


It is known that edibles give a different high than inhaled marijuana. Smoking weed, be it from a joint, pipe, or bong, typically gives a “head” high, where most of the effects are cognitive. Edibles, on the other hand, are often referred to as providing a “body” high. The bodily effects of ingesting bud can be much more intense than inhaling, and there is a scientific reason why.


When marijuana is inhaled, THC passes through the lungs directly into the blood. When taken this way, the THC is in a molecular form called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ-9-THC). THC in this form acts immediately on the body, and the effects are relatively short lived – only a few hours – before they begin to wear off. 


When you buy edibles online in Canada and consume them, the compounds have to pass through the digestive system to be processed by the liver before being distributed into the bloodstream. The liver converts the Δ-9-THC into another form called 11-hydroxy tetrahydrocannabinol (11-OH-THC). 


This secondary form is much more potent and long-lasting – even though it can take up to two hours to come into effect, the high from 11-OH-THC can last from 4-10 hours.  

Can Prolonged Use Lead To Damage?


Ingesting marijuana has some obvious advantages over smoking: your lungs are spared the harshness of inhaling carcinogens, it isn’t smelly or obvious, and it can be a tasty treat! There are, however, things to be considered if consuming edibles is something you’d like to add to your daily regime.  


Questions have been raised about the long-term effects of edibles on the liver. The scientific community got all a-buzz about CBD’s effects on the liver after a study about testing CBD and liver toxicity in mice was published. It concluded that mice were developing terminal liver disease within days of starting the experiment – but the doses they were receiving were 100 times higher than the recommended dose for humans! 


If you have liver issues or sensitivities, regularly consuming edibles would be a topic to bring to your healthcare provider. Depending on the reasons for taking edibles regularly, they may be an equally effective and possibly less harmful path to wellness than regular prescription or over-the-counter drugs. As with all medications, when taken in a proper dose (20mg/kg for humans), CBD edibles can be a safe and effective alternative.

What About Cannabis and the Brain?


The effects on the body are one thing, but cannabinoids work on the mind as well. The general (and wishful) opinion of cannabis users worldwide is that marijuana has almost no side effects. It’s hard to put everyone’s experiences under one blanket. Still, there are certain facts about cannabis use, whether it be smoked, vaped, or ingested, that people should be aware of.


While there are many applications for cannabis to be taken regularly, it is generally agreed that cannabis use should not start until the user reaches adulthood. In terms of the brain, full maturity is reached at the age of 25. The effects of marijuana on the developing brain can be detrimental in the long run to cognitive function and capability. 


However, for regular adult users, it’s hard to peg down the results of chronic marijuana use. Studies across the board have mixed results in terms of short- and long-term brain functions. 


Immeasurable factors, like personality and other substance use outside of the study (alcohol use is often a neglected factor), make it hard to put a finger on the effects of prolonged marijuana use among adults. In general, there don’t appear to be any significant adverse effects for regular adult users.  

Building Tolerance to THC


Since the purpose of your endocannabinoid system is to maintain homeostasis (balance) in the body, it will begin to shut down its receptiveness to cannabinoids by desensitizing receptors. This can happen quite quickly, as your body is always looking out for its best interest – sometimes contrary to what you may be trying to tell it! 


While it is ultimately an incredible process of self-preservation, building a tolerance can be a pain if you’ve just spent a chunk of coin on buying edibles online in Canada. Even though tolerances can build quite quickly, it’s possible to reset your tolerance too. 


Taking a break for a few days, or even taking a break every couple of days, can help keep the effectiveness of your edibles near their peak. If you’ve found that you’re deep in the rabbit hole of tolerance, try taking a two-week break to let your receptors reset completely. Keeping dosage to a minimum each time can help as well.


Eat, Sleep, Repeat


Taking edibles regularly can be a healthy alternative to smoking weed, and possibly to other medications. Being aware of potential side effects and having discussions with your healthcare provider to clear the air of any potential complications is always a good idea. 


If you get the green light, go ahead and enjoy the long-lasting body high that edibles provide while giving your lungs a break! Remember to start low, go slow, and reboot as needed to keep the edibles’ effects tip-top. 


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