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Harvard Health Blog
Cannabis is medicine — don’t make it taste good
- By: Peter Grinspoon, MD,
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Thought I’d read this and be able to rail against the big bad harvard doctor bashing against cannabis. I use it medically for neuropathy, cancer, seizures, tremors, spasms. Hell I can’t say enough about it. Of course I’m 38 year old man without kids. Don’t like kids. I have snooty cats who only eat fancy cat food who are probably smarter than me. I’m off of alot of other meds after 2 years in the medical cannabis program. Hell I smoke and vape raw flower and use tinctures and balms. Call me a purist. Of the opinion the sum total of the plant’s chemistry is what makes it effective. Terpenes. Total Cannabinoids. Yadda yadda.
I can see the pros and cons of both sides of this. But honestly for me I’ll say this. A panic attack I can live with. Having a severe Lamictal allergy and cooking from the inside out with blisters everywhere including my eyeballs was much more traumatic than a panic attack. A panic attack is a psychological symptom. One could even argue they’re a completely psychosomatic manifestation. When I started having seizures I got panic attacks pre and post ichtal from the auras. Sweating and nausea. Pounding chest. Not a great feeling. But it was still psychological and secondary to the problem.
On a personal note of choice. I find a notable difference in effect by the genetics usually divided into sativas or indicas. Or should I say the percentages of their hybridization. Since they’re practically all selectively bred and crossed and backward crossed umfteen times over. The phenotyping. The levels of thca/ delta 9 -thc/ thcv. The cannabinoids. I mean CBD counters the effects of THC. Or regulates the uptake of Thc anyway. Am I incorrect? I mean I have had 18% Thc strains highly effective. While at 30% thc a shortlived but very stimulating profile. Especially high thc sativas dominant strains. Energizing effect could easily become panic in high doses. As a society. Aren’t we past the I ate too many brownies? Well I guess bourgeois people want choices. I mean I want my flower to taste like something besides burning leaves. I mean 50 years of selective breeding and you want to add artificial flavors. Or take out the medicines terpene profile. Or choose one compound of the thousands in a synergenic plant and put it in a sugar pill. I think you’re all wrong. Anyway if you need candy. It better to labled. I mean that’s essentially poisoning someone. Ignorance is no recourse to the law. Period.
Edibles, far and away, have proven to be the easiest and most consistent way for me to consume my small doses of medical cannabis each day. Please, please, please do not try to take them away! Massachusetts already has strict requirements for packaging and labelling designed to protect the children and others. The rest is up to responsible adults to store their cannabis products safely. And yes, some people are not responsible. We will never be able to legislate our way out of that.
What’s so wrong about cannabis for adults that tastes good? Do you feel the same way about alcohol that tastes good? Both should be kept away from children like a thousand other things….
I am required to eat upwards of 20 cannabis cookies daily to relieve my diverticulosis. I’ve tried oils, they don’t have the same effect.
Eating the cannabis mass itself, with activated cannabinoids, is the solution.
So, I ask you this… how am I to make these cookies “unattractive” to children, and edible to myself, at the same time?
I have to choke down upwards of 20 of these a day, and people have remarked that my cookies are among the tastiest they’ve ever had.
Nothing tastes “great” after having eaten thousands of them, though.
Considering I already have problems with eating, both in terms of the action itself, and in terms of appetite from stomach problems, what would be your solution to this thorny problem?
These days, there are a wide variety of options for consuming medical cannabis (in a state where it is legal), including pill form (why wouldn’t this work?), vaporization, sublingual drops, tinctures, inhalers, topical patches, suppositories, etc.; it’s hard to imagine that a cookie is the only delivery option!
The most powerful public comment we responded to while forming regulations in my state came from a father of three veteran with a shattered pelvis. He said “do you know what my medicine used to look like? Stickers. You know what it came in? A box” He then brought all three kids up to talk about Daddy’s medicine is only for those who need it. The woman who followed him reported the 1252 (number slightly estimated as this was 4 years ago) children that had died eating colorful detergent bubbles. We also had plenty of people talk about their terrible experiences on antidepressants where they were not told to stop their medication due to side effects, such as suicidal ideations, being “normal”. Overregulation will never substitute for adequate education and our public servants as well as our doctors are not educated nearly enough, nor by the right people. Holistic health is just that… It’s not a crusade against candy, it’s an understanding of the root causes of conditions and the therapeutic approaches one can take depending on their need for specific bioavailability and biodelivery routes. Can we stay focused, please?
I 100% agree your points.
But, unfortunately, cannabis-food isn’t industrial product, it is the product of policy…….
Uhm you can get bubble gum flavored ibuprofen at any Walgreens or Target, maybe you need to get out more.. Edibles have been a big problem but Colorado is mandating that suppliers need to have strict quality control of products and the oral dose cannot exceed 10 mg. Yeah you get a different effect on an empty stomach but this is true of almost all meds. Being a cancer survivor I found inhalants give you a wild dosage spike and oral medication actually gummies worked best.
Wouldn’t a pill work just as well as a gummy, but not be dangerous for a kid or a pet? There wouldn’t be any argument for dose limits if it were in pill form.
I am not a doctor or have any fancy degree but i do work in the industry in Colorado and would disagree with this article in a few ways. Edibles started as putting cannabis material in to an oven with cake, brownie, or rice crispy for a yummy treat that would get you very high depending how much you took. Yes that could be scary but it has come such a long way since 2012. As we are still developing and learning how the different doses effect different people. It is up to the budtenders and different stores to be educated and want to educate the tourists or the first time users on proper doses. Legalization and edibles has been great as they stopped doing the whole sour patch kid gummies and gummy bear infused and moved to just squares or drops with THC marks on them. Many people use cannabis for recreational reasons also and love the exotic flavors and types of “adult candy.” Have some self control not to eat the whole bar. Furthermore they do make tablet forms of THC and CBD and they are very properly dosed with percentages but it is often cheaper to go purchase the gummirs as to extract and infuse the cannabis into the pill form is more costly than a gummy. Either way lots and lots of research and regulation still needs to be done but Colorado has done a great job for starting the path.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s a balance, but I’d put the safety of kids and pets over ‘people enjoying the exotic flavors and types of “adult candy.”‘ Also, bud tenders aren’t very rigorously trained, and don’t always make the right recommendations for cannabis naive people.
Any anecdotal evidence that CBD helps ALZ?
I read a study the other day about how CBD is neuroprotective and, theoretically, could protect against ALZ, but this was based on an animal model, and these, sadly, often don’t translate into humans with respect to ALZ. Clearly needs more study, sooner rather than later.
I spend an inordinate amount of time teaching patients that sugar and processed foods are inflammatory. Why would I suggest that they eat a Rice Krispie Treat to treat their pain?
Cough medicine, daily vitamins, Tums, Benadryl, the list goes on and on. Medicine and nutritional supplements have been made to taste good forever. Arguments about cannabis safety are all nonsense at this point.
I think it can be dangerous to make ANY meds, supplements or vitamins taste appealing to kids…
I’m a recreational user and enjoy the playful nature of fancy edibles. There are plenty of bigger threats to kids which we tolerate, so before you trample on my freedoms I want to see you calling for alcohol to be illegal, guns to be illegal, and how about junk food? How about airplanes? Just ride a bike everywhere if you care about harming kids.
I feel that cannabis should absolutely be legalized, but with sensible regulations, to keep everyone safe. I don’t consider this “trampling on freedoms” as much as good public health policy…
you could say the same about large pickups (or most motor vehicles), their lack of visibility of small children (people in large pickups seem to back over children they know fairly often), ATVs (young children regularly injure themselves riding them), or motor vehicles altogether—emission of particulates & compounds that make children living w/in 100′ of a busy road far more likely to develop asthma and once having done so, to experience exacerbations of asthma.
Just because other things are dangerous for kids doesn’t mean that edibles aren’t…
Thanks for this important post! Health Canada is currently developing policies for our country’s legalization of edibles. Your article’s suggestions are not denying people the opportunity to benefit from ingesting cannabis orally – only from simultaneously enjoying it as a food treat. Eating food and taking cannabis orally are not hand-in-glove by any means, and keeping them separate makes total sense.
That’s what I think…it’s a small price for safe legalization.
I agree with you. Before all this legalization kicked in, I had a very bad experience consuming too many pot brownies. I was a pot smoker, but this was not fun.
I think it would be somewhat better to put in in gummies, but have them in a labeled bottle, like they do gummie vitamins. Definitely not a chocolate bar, way too easy for even someone who knows what it is to eat too much.
I have seen a dog that had consumed marijuana, and it was truly frightening. We thought he had some kind of neurological damage until we figured out what happened.
Agree…it’s not all or nothing; gummies in a labeled bottle with a child-proof cap would be better than just a bag of gummies lying around but still would be pretty tempting for a 4 year old to eat..
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