State variance with edibles packaging and THC content requires compliance with all state regulations.
By Karen Marker, Michigan
Beginning with California’s medicinal marijuana legalization some 19 years ago, followed by the subsequent passage of recreational laws in other states, the popularity and use of edible marijuana products has skyrocketed. The edibles market is one of the fastest-growing segments in the Cannabis industry, making tasty Cannabis-infused foods and beverages a hot commodity that are in high demand.
With this popularity has come change. There’s no doubt that edibles today are being made quite different than they were in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, and along with changing production methods has come a wide array of edible products to choose from and the ability to easily access them.
While the incredible growth in the edibles segment of the industry may have surprised some people, the reasons for edibles popularity are obvious. Many people prefer edibles over other forms of Cannabis because they have an aversion to smoking. Edibles are inconspicuous, and, as such, allow the consumer to simply enjoy or medicate without anyone’s knowledge. Other people can’t smoke for medical reasons, which makes edibles a safe alternative for consuming Cannabis.
If asked when edibles became so popular, one would really have to give the question great thought. Not being able to pinpoint an exact date, a rough estimate would be over the past five to eight years. One thing is for sure, though: Edibles are nationally relevant as they go hand-in-hand with all other Cannabis-related products and can be found in dispensaries and retail stores across the country in the states that have medical- or recreational-use laws.
If you visit a medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado, you’ll notice there’s no ceiling regarding the amount of active THC allowed in edibles. However, if you visit a licensed recreational marijuana retail store in the Centennial State, you’ll notice a maximum cap of 10 milligrams of THC per dose. Public safety concerns spawned new rules for Colorado Cannabis, and new laws regarding edibles are bound to continue across the country in the future. As well as being one of the fastest-growing segments in the Cannabis industry, the edibles market has also proven to be one of the most problematic from a legal standpoint.
Because of the attraction children have to candy and sweets—the core of the edibles market—packaging laws are important. As well as requiring packaging that doesn’t appeal to children, the THC level of package contents also varies. Using Colorado’s edibles laws again as an example, edibles sold by a dispensaries can have three 50-milligram THC cookies per package (each cookie is considered one serving); whereas, edibles sold in a recreational retail store cannot have more than ten 10-milligram THC servings per package.
Regardless of the state, if there’s recreational or medicinal legalization, one thing should be the same: package requirements. Every label should have the following: product name, manufacturer, ingredients (as well as the type of infusion used and the amount of THC the product contains), amount of active THC per piece (if more than one) and package total, recommended dosage, and cautions like “Do not drive or operate machinery after consuming” and “Keep out of reach of children and pets.” If it’s a label for a medical state, “For medical use only” should be clearly stated as well as being within compliance of such states’ medical marijuana act/program. Some states, and even individual counties, have gone as far as stating that edible labels cannot be colorful or attract children in any way. Nor can they mimic store-bought items.
An example of state variances regarding edible requirements would be Sacramento, California, versus Ann Arbor, Michigan. Both are medical states, yet they have completely different edible requirements. Sacramento does not allow edibles that require refrigeration or hot-holding (see www. canorml.org/prop/EdibleCannabisRegulations.pdf). Baked products, such as brownies, cookies, and cakes, are okay if they’re labeled correctly in an opaque package with all of the previously mentioned information. Michigan, however, has absolutely no specific guidelines regarding edibles or the packaging thereof!
Removing the Stigma
The stigma that hovers over edibles, which labels them as a dangerous way to consume Cannabis, must end. In order for this to occur, it’s imperative to educate the public. Newbies aren’t going to know there’s a significant difference between ingesting and inhaling Cannabis. When Cannabis is consumed by eating an edible, its Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (or Delta-9-THC) travels through the stomach into the liver, where it is converted into 11-Hydroxy-THC. According to The United Patient’s Group, it’s believed that 11-Hydroxy-THC is nine to 10 times more psychoactive than Delta-9-THC.
When consuming edibles, it is important to start out with a small dose and allow at least 60 to 90 minutes to pass for the effects to begin to kick in. Then, if needed, increase the dosage accordingly. The effect of edibles lasts four to six hours, but up to eight hours is possible. Once people know their tolerance levels, they can determine dosage much better, but it’s always best to be safe by starting out with a small dose.
The popularity of edibles is only going to gain momentum. Earlier this year, The Los Angeles Times reported that edibles made up 40% of Colorado’s generated income from retail stores sales, with 2,850,733 individual edible units sold in 2014. Now that’s a lot of dough!
We need consistency in order to legitimize the edibles industry. Proper education needs to be made readily available so people understand that edibles are not only popular, but also are a safe alternative to self-medicating—or for consuming simply for pure enjoyment.