Personal Health Care
Chronic Disease Prevention
  Marijuana Edibles  

What are Edibles?

Marijuana edibles are foods or beverages that contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main substance in marijuana that causes the effects seen in people.

  • Edibles are infused with concentrated THC. Concentrates are made by extracting oils high in THC from the leaves and flowers of the marijuana plant. Marijuana edibles can contain a variable amount of THC.
  • There are “medibles”, or marijuana edibles created for medicinal use, and recreational marijuana edibles.  Both are legal under Washington State law, but are illegal under federal law.

 What is the Difference Between Smoking and Edible Marijuana?

The effects of THC in marijuana edibles may last longer and have a more potent effect than smoked marijuana.

  • The effects of smoking marijuana are almost immediate and peak within 10-15 minutes.
  • Eating or drinking marijuana (ingesting it) can take up to two hours before effects are seen and can peak for two hours, or longer.

 How Much THC Can Edibles Contain?

Washington State law limits recreational marijuana in edibles to no more than 10 mg per serving.  Because a single package can contain up to ten servings, it is important to always read packaging on edibles carefully before use.

  • Washington State requires that marijuana edible packaging clearly state how many servings are in a package and how much THC is contained in each serving.
  • The Washington State Liquor Control Board maintains a list of approved marijuana infused products that can be sold in licensed marijuana businesses.  Marijuana edibles cannot be sold in regular food establishments, such as grocery stores and restaurants.

 Does Ingesting too Much THC Have Consequences?

Accidental exposures or overdoses from marijuana are increasing in Washington.  This is resulting in more trips to the Emergency Room and more people experiencing the negative side effects of ingesting too much THC.  For the past two years, Thurston County has been 5th highest for number of accidental exposures and overdoses from marijuana (based on reports to the Washington Poison Center).   

Symptoms of ingesting too much THC include:

  • Extreme confusion, anxiety, panic or paranoia
  • Fast heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Severe nausea and vomiting

What About Edibles and Kids?

Risk of accidental poisoning or overdose among children and youth is especially of concern. 

  • Small children can become very sick from accidentally ingesting marijuana edibles due to their body size and high concentration of THC in products. 
  • Because children’s biology is different than an adult’s, marijuana affects them differently. Initially, they are stimulated and may seem hyperactive, after which they become sedated, which is where the real danger lies.  Some may even require ventilator support to help with their breathing, and some cases have resulted in a coma.
  • Adolescents are using marijuana edibles to get high (2% of sophomores, 8% of high school seniors in Mason County and 3% of sophomores, 4% of high school seniors in Thurston County, which increases their risk for overdose.  The Washington Poison Center shows that calls to them about marijuana exposure are highest for youth age 13-19 and young adults age 20-29.

Safe Storage

Marijuana use is common.  About 1 in 5 adults in Mason and Thurston counties currently use marijuana.

  • It is extremely important to keep marijuana, in any form, away from children.  This means keep it out of reach and out of sight
  • The majority of accidental poisonings happen when drugs or medicines are misplaced, on the ground, in purses or backpacks, or on tables, counters, and nightstands within reach of children.  For additional information on safety click here.
  • Avoid using marijuana around children, in any form, at all times.

Marijuana Candy


Edibles, including medical marijuana or “medibles” can look like cookies, candy, juices, or suckers and be brightly colored, thus grabbing the attention of kids.  Edibles can lead to accidental poisonings because children think they are eating regular food or candy.  To avoid accidents, keep marijuana:

  • Clearly Labeled
  • Stored in a Child-resistant Container
  • Kept in a Locked Cabinet

Additional Information

Important links to further information about marijuana and Washington State’s response to legalized recreational marijuana.

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  • Mary Ann O'Garro at 360-867-2525 or Email
This page last updated: 04/29/17