“Edibles” are an increasing threat, especially to our youth here in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
As reported recently in local media sources, “edibles” is making its way into our schools causing our youth, who are attending school for the purpose of learning, to instead end up in the emergency room due to complications after consuming it.
Even though smoking remains the most prevalent method of marijuana consumption, the ingestion of edibles is quickly becoming a popular way, especially by our youth, to take the drug. Unfortunately, many people who consume edibles are unaware of the dangers associated with its use.
Some of you may ask, what are edibles? Let me be clear, edibles, “marijuana edibles” to be more exact, are food products that have been infused with marijuana. These products come in a variety of different forms including baked goods, chocolates, drinks, lozenges, candies, gummies, cakes, cereal, ice cream, breath mints, beef jerky and rice krispies, among others. It’s made to look EXACTLY like the regular items listed above. A lot of the edibles being consumed here locally is homemade. Our youth are finding ways to get these products not knowing that they are playing Russian roulette with their lives.
People who are preparing the products at home most time have no way of accurately knowing how much tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, is being added by way of extracted oil or butter to the products they are making.
Therein lies the problem. Some marijuana edibles have several servings worth of THC in them. One bar of marijuana chocolate may have multiple 10 mg servings. If the person consuming the product has a low marijuana tolerance and eats an entire bar of the chocolate, they may experience side effects like dizziness, nausea, fast heartbeat, facial flushing, dry mouth and even tremors.
Some other effects they can experience are psychotic episodes, hallucinations, paranoia, panic attacks and impaired motor ability. Again, edibles can have highly variable amounts of marijuana and can easily lead to a marijuana overdose.
According to Dr. Nora Volkow, the current director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, edibles are now being associated with “medical complications that we never knew were associated with marijuana.” Edibles take between 1 and 3 hours to absorbed into the bloodstream in food through the liver. Because of this delay, the user may end up consuming larger amounts of the drug, thinking the drug isn’t giving them any effects.
Our public schools’ territory-wide have recently seen an increase of this threat. It has resulted in our youth having serious complications at school and having to be taken to the hospital for treatment. As a result, school administration officials and law enforcement have reached out for help in assuring that students and parents/guardians are aware of the consequences of ingesting edibles.
It is going to take the “village” mentality to combat this and other issues our community is facing. Parents and guardians need to be fully aware that their child too can become a victim. They also need to be aware that every product is different, and that every child is different as to being tolerant to the product they are consuming; it can be deadly, it all depends on the THC content and that individual’s tolerance.
Students need to learn to say no when asked by “friends” to consume something they are not sure of. Unfortunately, most times, it is impossible to know that the cake, brownie, chocolate or other product they are being offered is infused with the THC. The best thing again is to just say no, even if being offered by a friend.
Rodney F. Querrard
Editor’s note: Rodney F. Querrard is a drug intelligence officer (DIO), ONDCP/ORS/Puerto Rico-U.S. Virgin Islands HIDTA, and former police chief/ commissioner of the Virgin Islands Police Department.