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Substance misuse

Edibles: Information for parents, carers and professionals

A group of young adults sit together on a bed in a cosy bedroom. One holds a glass in their hands. Overlaid is text that reads: "Drugs Awareness Poster Hub".

There is concern locally about the use of edibles by a small number of young people which has resulted in some requiring medical assistance. These documents, created by Surrey Young People’s Substance Misuse, contain information about edibles and and aim to raise awareness of these products, the signs and symptoms of consumption, and how to support children and young people who may have access to them.

What are edibles?

Edibles are food products that may contain cannabis. There are many forms of edibles, including sweets, gummies and lollipops. They usually contain – or are marketed as containing – a number of chemicals, many of which are harmful and controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis and can make people feel a range of effects, while cannabidiol (CBD) is the nonpsychoactive chemical compound which does not have the same effect. Any CBD product containing THC is illegal in the UK.

The sweet versions are widely available on the internet and via social media and may be easily accessed by young people. The packaging is often deliberately targeted to attract young people. There is NO quality control of these products.

Displayed side effects may include: paranoia, panic attacks, nausea, impaired mobility, hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, hallucinations

What are we worried about?

The amount of cannabis in these products can vary greatly and sometimes other harmful drugs are added too. The effects of consuming edibles are unpredictable and it can be very easy to accidentally take a larger dose. Edibles take between 1-3 hours to have an effect because food is absorbed into the bloodstream through the liver. Because it takes longer, the person taking them may end up consuming larger amounts of the drug while thinking the drug isn’t working. As edibles may look like other products, there is also the risk someone may ingest them without realising they contain drugs – this could include other children in the home.

What can you do?

We recommend monitoring food packaging/wrappers, looking for wording such as CBD or THC suggesting the items are cannabis oil infused.

Please be mindful of the medical needs should a child present with symptoms, or if you suspect they have consumed a drug-laced substance. In a medical emergency call 999.

If you are made aware of any social media accounts advertising these items, we ask you report this information to the police, school or Crime Stoppers.

Surrey Young People’s Substance Misuse Service is a county-wide specialist treatment service for young people aged up to 25. They offer free and confidential advice and support as well as training for professionals.

  • If you are concerned about the safety of a child or young person you can contact the Surrey Children’s Single Point of Access (SPA).
  • If you have any local information or intelligence please share it with drugliaisonofficers@surrey.pnn.police.uk

Surrey Healthy Schools take a preventative and graduated approach to supporting young people and their families. The approach builds upon a supportive school culture, ensuring an effective PSHE curriculum (including effective and age appropriate drug education), access to activities, the development of healthy eating behaviours and a focus upon emotional wellbeing and mental health. Ensuring an effective Drug Education Policy supports a school’s practice is an essential aspect of the Surrey Healthy Schools approach.