Just Relax: Weed Edibles Won’t Kill Anyone

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It’s that time again! Time for Wrong Information to Go Viral on the Twitters. And yes, it’s always that time. That time literally never stops because it’s 2018 and down is up and left is right and cats and dogs are living together.

Merrillee Brown is a doctor in rural Ontario who recently tweeted “In ER last night I treated someone for a cannabis induced psychosis from cannabis “edibles”, in this case, a chocolate bar. She ate one piece of the 16 piece bar. That piece had 20g of THC equivalent to 20 joints! Edibles are often so concentrated that they can be fatal in kids.”

Oh no! This poor woman (child?) ate the equivalent of 20 joints and experienced psychosis! That could kill a kid!

Except that neither of those statements is true. First of all, I would love to see the chocolate bar that has 20 grams of THC in it. Excuse me, I mean 320 grams of THC, since she said there were 20 grams in just one of 16 pieces. Your average candy bar only weighs about 50 or 60 grams, total, and that’s including the chocolate and all that. 320 grams is about ¾ of a pound, of just THC.

So no, clearly this person didn’t eat 20 grams of THC. She probably ate 20 milligrams of THC, which is for many people a normal to high dose and for people who have never tried edibles it would probably put them in a bit of a stupor, but it’s still less THC than you’ll find in a single joint (which would be about 30 or 40 mg for a small one). For comparison’s sake, when I eat an edible I usually have 5 to 10 milligrams.

You may argue, hey, what’s the difference between grams and milligrams, to which I would say grams are literally a thousand times bigger and a fucking doctor, of all people, should know the difference and be precise.

Dr. Brown goes on to say that edibles can be fatal to kids. This is 100% wrong. Hell, if your dog got into your stash of Kiva bars, you should be more worried about the chocolate in his system than the weed (though please, don’t let your dog get into your edible stash, okay? It’s ridiculously hard to kill a dog with weed but it’s not hard to send him on the bad trip of a lifetime. If you do suspect your dog ate marijuana, take him to the vet to make sure he recovers as quickly as possible.)

While there has been proof of dogs dying from eating truly extraordinary amounts of cannabis, there is no evidence of it happening to humans — yes, even children. “LD50” is a term scientists use to discuss the amount of a substance that a person would need to ingest in order to risk a 50% chance of dying (“LD” stands for “lethal dose”). A 175-pound man would need to consume 53 grams of pure THC (so more than two times more than Dr. Brown mistakenly thought her patient consumed) to reach that. To get that much THC in an edible, you would risk overdosing on salt or sugar — like, seriously overdosing on those things — before you even come close to overdosing on weed.

To reach that LD50 by smoking, you’d have to smoke about 1,500 pounds of weed in 15 minutes. Good luck with that, Cheech.

All of this isn’t to say that there are no ill effects from eating or smoking too much weed. I once ate an edible so strong that I thought time was moving backwards and out of order. I tried to watch a soothing TV show to calm down but I had seen it before, so I wasn’t sure if I had in fact seen it before or if I was seeing it for the first time but remembering seeing it from the future. It sucked, you guys.

So yeah, kids shouldn’t be doing edibles! And yeah, now that there are more of those around, there’s more of a chance of kids getting into them and ending up at the emergency room, just like what happened when we ended prohibition of booze, and started selling more medications over the counter, and started selling laundry pods that look like delicious candy. The solution isn’t to falsely villify weed and scare people into keeping it illegal or not using it — the solution is to be better parents. And yeah, people make mistakes, but Dr. Brown’s tweet is still up, wracking up nearly 11,000 retweets as of this recording. If she had any concern for the actual facts, she would have deleted it immediately. Be a better doctor, Dr. Brown.


Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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