Most cannabis lovers have had at least one uncomfortable experience where they ate one too many pot brownies and got too stoned to even move. But a small percentage of people actually can't get high at all from consuming cannabis edibles, no matter how much they take.
These so-called “ediblocked” people can get high from smoking or vaping weed, just like anyone else, but THC edibles or oils have little to no effect on them. Some of these people report that they can't get high from eating weed at all, while others say they have insanely high tolerances to pot edibles. One ediblocked person told the Boston Globe that he only felt slightly stoned after drinking hash tea containing 700mg of THC – roughly the equivalent of eating seven full bags of THC gummies.
No one currently knows what percentage of people experience this condition, and scientists have yet to conduct clinical studies that could explain why some people are unable to digest THC. Dr. Staci Gruber, director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery programs at McLean Hospital, has come up with a hypothesis that could explain this phenomenon, though.
“We’re only just now starting to understand the cannabinoid system,” Dr. Gruber told the Boston Globe. “And it’s already clear that it’s not just about what and how much you’re using, it’s about how you’re wired.”
Gruber and her colleagues have hypothesized that this condition could be caused by unusual variations in the liver enzymes that are responsible for breaking THC down into its metabolites. It could be possible that some people's enzymes fail to process THC at all, and it is excreted from the body without taking effect. Conversely, these unusual enzymes might be over-efficient, essentially breaking the THC down so quickly that it doesn't have a chance to create the standard psychoactive effect.
This phenomenon could certainly impact the demand for cannabis edibles, but it has even more serious implications for drug testing. An ediblocked person that eats a big batch of weed gummies might not experience any psychoactive effect whatsoever, but they would still test positive for THC on a drug test. And since most states still allow drug testing for employment or driving safety, this means that someone could lose their job or their drivers license even though they were stone cold sober at the time of the test.
Gruber told the Globe that this phenomenon “underscores the need to understand people’s genetic profiles” when it comes to understanding and interpreting drug tests for cannabis. “There are a lot of variables people haven’t considered.”
People with this condition are also missing out on some of the benefits of medical cannabis. Edibles and tinctures are usually the go-to choice for people who need to consume large quantities of THC for medical reasons. But anyone who is unable to experience the medical benefits of edibles will have to consider another method of administration, like vaping or smoking, and this can be problematic for people with certain health conditions.