Sarah Climaco

Focus Group Study Explores Reasons Consumers Prefer Cannabis Edibles to Smoking

According to research by RTI International, an independent nonprofit research institute, cannabis consumers in legal states prefer edibles to smoking or vaporizing, citing lack of odor, no secondhand smoke, discreetness, convenience, longer lasting and less intense highs, and “edibles’ ability to aid in relaxation and reduce anxiety more than smoking.

The study was conducted via eight focus groups – four in both Denver, Colorado and Seattle, Washington – in February with 62 total participants.

However, some participants indicated that they didn’t like the delayed effects, unpredictability of the high, and “inconsistency of distribution of marijuana in the product.

“No participants in either location mentioned harmful health effects from consuming edibles as a concern,” the authors noted.

Sheryl C. Cates, lead author for the study and RTI senior research public health analyst, added that for some participants “consuming edibles provided better pain and anxiety relief.”

“Importantly, the delayed high from edibles vs. smoking or vaping marijuana may contribute to consumers ingesting a greater than intended amount of the drug before they feel high,” Cates said in a press release. “Informing the public on delayed activation, accidental ingestion, proper dosing and harmful effects will help consumers make better decisions and help protect public health.”

Jane A. Allen, RTI public health analyst, said that while the study “did not examine whether edibles are used as a substitute for other drugs” several studies have shown that increased access to legal cannabis products “may reduce” the frequency and amount of pain and opioid medication use.

RTI plans to unveil two case studies on edible policy in Alaska and Washington during a series of hour-long webinars which begin on Oct. 23.

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