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Cannabis edibles – how do you know if they're dodgy?

There are increasing reports of young people taking what they think are cannabis edibles and getting ill from them. In many cases, it’s turned out that they had taken something containing synthetic cannabinoids rather than THC (the main psychoactive component of cannabis) without knowing it.

In Canada and some US states, it’s legal to sell cannabis including in the form of gummies, lollipops, and other sweets. These products are often packaged to look like regular sweets.

US versus UK edibles

Over here, it’s illegal to sell anything that contains THC but there are illegal edibles around which are often made to look like what you can get legally in the US. They may even say that they are only for over-18s and things like how much THC they’re supposed to have in them. But, a lot of the time, “cannabis edibles” over here don’t have any THC in them and contain synthetic cannabinoids instead.

Some of the effects of synthetic cannabinoids can be similar to cannabis but they are often much more unpleasant or dangerous. They can cause hallucinations, extreme paranoia and (in high doses) even death.

The effects of consuming edibles are unpredictable and it can be very easy to accidentally take a larger dose than you wanted to, even if they are genuinely cannabis edibles. Synthetic cannabinoids make this even riskier.

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Help and advice

What to do in an emergency

If you or someone else needs urgent help after taking drugs or drinking, call 999 for an ambulance. Tell the crew everything you know. It could save their life.

What else to do in an emergency