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Drugs & Health Blog

Marijuana “Edibles” Make Candy Complicated

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
The NIDA Blog Team

Pop quiz!  Don't worry, you won't be graded on this one.

Question: If you look at the candy in the check-out aisle in your local store, an average chocolate bar is 1 serving, and an average bag of candy-covered chocolates (which has about 30 candies) is also 1 serving.

What's the average serving of a marijuana edible chocolate bar or bag of a candy that has been infused with THC—the active ingredient in marijuana?

Answer:  There is no average serving.

Yes, it was a trick question. But that’s kind of what marijuana edibles are…tricky. At least for a person who doesn’t use marijuana regularly.

Do the math

For example, in Colorado, a single serving of an edible marijuana food product purchased for adult recreational use (as opposed to medicinal use) can’t have more than 10 milligrams of THC in it. BUT, there can be up to ten servings in the product or package. That means a single bag of marijuana candy, a marijuana chocolate bar, a marijuana brownie, or any other marijuana edible might contain as much as 100 milligrams of THC.

Smoking marijuana delivers to the user about 5 mg of THC in one puff. So if you ate all ten gummies in a bag of marijuana candy—each one a single 10 mg “serving”—it would be like taking 20 hits of a marijuana cigarette at one time! Because it takes longer to feel the effects of the THC when you eat an edible compared to smoking marijuana—up to an hour or two, this happens a lot. People end up eating more than the recommended serving because they don’t “feel” it right away.

But really, it also goes against how most people eat candy. When was the last time you just had one candy from a bag?

Half a sip?

Beverages containing cannabis can be even more confusing. For example, one product contains 7.5 servings in a bottle that is about the same size as a can of soda. Does that mean that you are supposed to take only one sip? A sip and a half? 

Manufacturers may say it’s a great drink to share, but do you really want to share a bottle with 7.5 friends? That’s a little too much sharing, if you ask us. (And how do you find half a friend?)

We all know that these THC-infused edibles and drinks are illegal for teens to use and buy. But many will find ways to try them. They may discover, though, that it isn’t worth long nights coping with overwhelming dizziness, hallucinations, and stomach sickness (common symptoms of overdose)—and, for a growing number of unlucky experimenters, trips to the emergency room.

That’s what happened to New York Times reporter Trish Reske’s 21-year-old son, who had to be rushed to the hospital after eating all 6 servings of a marijuana chocolate bar. Not a great way to spend an evening.

Tell us in the comments: What should manufacturers do to make marijuana edibles safer?

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


by having parents teach their kids about marijuana because why should we hold conglomerates with only a conception of money (and not morality) handle this? i'll tell you why, it's because parents are 1) uninformed, and 2) incapable of providing good, reasonable information to their children (partly due to #1, partly due to their disinterest in what they don't understand.
what is wrong with you no its not
I'm a vacuum. VROOM VROOM.
come an clean my house
How many servings are in a bottle of vodka? Do most people stop at 2 oz? How many people have been rushed to the hospital with alcohol intoxication?
yes some people do get drunk off of that so what!!!
Where on the label is the thc content listed? Is it a drug or a food? Every body makes there own choice but you need correct information to begin with.

Jody wright, you raise some good questions.  Right now, edibles are being treated like a food.  If it were a drug, the FDA would need to get involved in regulating it, which hasn't happened yet.  States like Colorado and Washington are working hard to figure this all out.  It's likely that standardized packaging for edibles will be adopted, but we don't know what that will look like.  

Sugar is the number one addictive drug that has no regulation whatsoever and any child can buy anywhere. Where is the governments concern there? Oh yeah wait, the companies that produce refined sugar are way to strong for the government to deal with. Let's not even get started on how the government lies to us all about how corporate America controls the puppets in Washington. The idiots in charge say they want to protect children? That's the parents job and go after the parents first who don't qualify to even have pets under their care, never mind children. Yeah protect the children is a last effort ditch to keep a natural plant that has potential to cure many illnesses that the government allows powerful pharmaceutical companies that push drugs on us that are ten times more harmful that cannibus in its natural form. You don't even need to smoke it if you ingest orally in the form of juicing and edibles. No one has ever overdosed from cannibus yet every nineteen minutes someone dies from legal prescription drugs doctors push on us daily. The government is more interested in the bottom dollar than anything and is why now that they see the potential earnings in legalizing it that they are starting to give in. Not that they care, just because the millions of tax revenues they inherit by just selling it to the masses. Do you smell the coffee now?
you make some points, SOME, but the fact is marijuana would be legalized and regulated by the government if the bottom dollar is more of an interest to them than anything they would be making profit off of medical and recreational marijuana use instead of spending millions to fight it in the war on drugs most of your points made are invalid. Smell the bull poop now?
Actually your points are invalid, however they do have some truth to them. In the long run they would make more money from the legalization however it would take time and money to put the systems in place to turn a profit and in that time they would have to deal with massive amounts of political backlash from both people against the bill and from big league industries that would lose massive amounts of money if the industrial hemp industry was revived. During this transitional period filled with political tension the government would lose more money fixing it all than they are currently spending fighting the failing drug war. So yes, in the long hall it would be a financial gain for the government to legalize cannabis but the short term financial, political, and time burdens make it an unfavorable option.
HAHAHAHAHA industrialized hemp industry????!?!?!???! Think u only need one if those- industrialized used hemp as a noun, and industry uses hemp as an adjective.
Your response is invalid sir, technically anything is addictive, But research shows that coffee is more addictive than marijuana. Marijuana can be stopped at anytime UNLIKE alcohol and cigarettes, Alcohol makes people abusive and aggressive, marijuana can actually be used medically. Ban the bad stuff. Legalization of marijuana would clear jails out and the government could tax it, therefore increasing the economy.
I have tried the edible candy and you just eat small piece, not the whole bag. And it's different from smoking it, you don't get that instant buzz. You just relax and I sleep much better and relaxed I have bad disc and I certainly would rather smoke a joint hit it couple times or eat a piece of the candy then take a muscle relaxer that is bad for your kidneys and liver.
Marijuana legalization could strengthen the economy. I do believe that. I also believe it is a weed, man didn't invent it. I have seen the good it has done for cancer patients. I also believe it is a personal choice if you wish to smoke it or not. My community was so riddled by a prescription drug problem as soon as they got harder to get - we now have a huge heroin problem because of the prescription pills. Pot didn't cause that. Basically not too many pot smokers are out committing horrendous crimes, they are too busy chilling!!!!!!!!!
I think that putting marijuana in candy is really bad for you and that the people that know that marijuana is in candy should not buy the food/candy. I feel really bad for the kid that had to be in a hospital. people should watch what they eat.
I think that all parents- and children should really watch out when they buy candy. What happen to Trish Reske's son is scary. I know I am going to be a lot more careful with what candy I eat. People should not put marijuana in candy.
that sounds gross! why would people eat that???
I think this is very bad for the kids and the people who buy the candy. they should really watch out what they eat. but, it isn't their fault if they are forced to or that they didn't know that it had marijuana in them
I think that putting marijuana in candy is really bad for you and that the people that know that marijuana is in candy should not buy the food/candy.
Putting marijuana in candy is not "bad for you". The consumption of the amount of sugar in this candy might be. I believe that proper labeling is necessary for marijuana edible products. People need to open their eyes and realize the effect that social media has on us as consumers in he modern world. With education that is taught towards anti-marijuana, you are led to believe that marijuana is bad for your health. Though you can't overdose, know your limits. YOU have limits on everything that you consume. And remember: use, don't abuse!
The risk is rising..11% of those stopped by a Sheriff are on marijuana; the school claims are going up from 0 3 years ago to 11%; many towns have banned it, so "Save the Kids!"
adding weed into foods and snacks is wasting weed and it will get the people high when they eat the food
My fear, one of them, regarding "eating" pot is that people actually HALLUCINATE after eating it. Consuming it this way is a TOTALLY different "high" then smoking it...something you "pro" folks might want to consider...or maybe that's why you are so "pro"
number 3 I love how this is a nice site to find info on marijuana
It's too bad people don't see the harms. Common sense has gone out the window and it's difficult to talk to pro cannabis supporters about the public health concerns with marijuana. I don't bother arguing with fools. Thank you for this article.
Could eating 1 weed lollipop cause someone to feel nauseous for a week or longer after consuming one?

We're sorry to hear about your struggles and appreciate you reaching out to us. As a federal scientific research agency, we are unable to provide medical advice, so please contact a doctor if you have concerns. You can get information about drug abuse treatment programs at If you aren't sure what to do or just want to talk to someone, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at

My question wasn't about a current situation it was about something that happened to someone I know about 2 months ago so basically it was just a hypothetical question on a one-time situation.
health class is very pointless
why does there effect take longer when eating an edible than smoking it?

When a person smokes marijuana, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. The body absorbs THC more slowly when the person eats or drinks it because it must pass through the digestive tract first. In that case, the user generally feels the effects after 30 minutes to 1 hour. (

Im glad this website teaches kids not to do things like drugs.