Cannabis is big business. In the United States, the market value of the cannabis industry is projected to reach an annual $30 billion by 2025. And what area has seen the biggest growth as of late? Cannabis edibles. In the Western states of California, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and Washington, edible sales jumped by more than 20% between 2020 and 2021. While gummy candy continues to dominate the cannabis edibles market, caramels, chews, taffy and healthy cannabis edibles are also on the rise. So what’s with the sudden increase? Why the high demand?
Ingesting cannabis is really not anything new. In India, it is believed that cannabis was consumed as early as 1000 CE. Back then, a paste was created by grinding and soaking portions of the cannabis sativa plant, and then mixing that with water and consuming it like an unfiltered tea. That paste was also made into a beverage blended with curd and whey, or often combined with sugar and clarified butter and then used to make sweets. Of course, back then, these concoctions were utilized not for their psychotropic qualities but more as an aid for better sleep and to enhance appetite.
It was around 1474 when Europe caught on and a recipe was published in Italy for what roughly translates as “cannabis nectar”. While marijuana was used medicinally in the United States, it wasn’t until the early 1900s when it started to become a recreational drug — and modern cannabis-infused edibles began to evolve. Credit for the first U.S. edible goes to Alice B. Toklas, who in 1954 published a cookbook with a recipe for “Hashish Fudge.”
Funny enough though, Alice’s recipe did not include hash, or even chocolate for that matter, and was actually just smashed and balled cannabis sativa mixed with fruit and spices. It didn’t even involve the use of heat, which many say is what activates the THC in marijuana, but apparently you can get benefit from eating raw weed as long as you eat a whole lot of it. In the late ‘60s, a movie entitled I Love You Alice B. Toklas started the pot brownie craze, which then expanded to the popularity of space cakes and cookies in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and expanded to include all sorts of baked goods as the love of cannabis grew.
The modern cannabis edibles market has expanded to include any number of cannabis-infused foods that are not only limited to baked goods but include chocolates, gummies, ice cream, chips, beef jerky, peanut butter and jelly, pizza sauce — you name it! Not to mention beverages such as coffee, tea, soda, lemonade and even alcohol-free wine. While gummies are the most popular form of cannabis edible, there is no end of products to try. Some of the cannabis edibles, even healthy cannabis edibles, focus solely on CBD (which produces no “high”), while many include THC as the ultimate way to achieve a good buzz.
“Cannabis edibles” is a very broad term basically used to describe any kind of cannabis infused product that is digested as opposed to being smoked or vaped. Edibles are often the preferred method of ingesting cannabis because:
- No smoke is involved. Many people don’t like to inhale smoke or vapor. Sometimes this is just a personal preference but sometimes it has a medical basis. Smoking cannabis can be linked to respiratory issues like bronchitis, lung infections, cough, and phlegm. And like cigarette smoke, it can irritate lungs and make it harder for you to breathe. This can be eliminated by eating or drinking cannabis instead.
- It’s a longer lasting high. Smoked or vaped cannabis is inhaled through the lungs and then enters the bloodstream immediately so the high is felt quickly, peaks in around 10 minutes, and lasts an hour or two at most. Edible cannabis needs to be digested and then metabolized, and that means you may not feel any effects for 30 minutes with a peak taking up to two hours, which may not fade for 3 hours or more. This means cannabis edibles are going to have effects that feel stronger and last longer — making them more preferable for those suffering from chronic pain or serious medical conditions.
- Edibles are easy to use and discreet. No need for a pipe or a vape kit or any accoutrements at all with edibles. Most edibles are pre-packaged for easy consumption. Even when choosing between cannabis tinctures vs edibles, the most you will need is a dropper. There is absolutely no aroma like there can be with marijuana smoke, or any distinguishable cloud like with vape — you could literally consume a cannabis edible or beverage right in front of someone with them being none the wiser.
- Edibles dosing is transparent and consistent. While homemade edibles can be hit or miss when it comes to strength and effects, commercially manufactured edibles have strict enforcement on mandatory package information. In fact, no other category has as many regulations as edibles. While packaging regulations can vary from state to state, at minimum you will see listings for ingredients and cannabinoid content along with various government warnings. Edible packaging is intended to make edibles dosing clear to the consumer with no guessing when it comes to serving size. This means that while the effects may vary between different edible products, say between specific cannabis tinctures vs edibles, once you have determined which particular edible brand and form works best for you and your needs, you should achieve the same high when consuming the same dosage each time, every time.
- There are so many choices. There are currently just so many different options available on the cannabis edibles market. And due to so much scientific advancement when it comes to the distillation process, unlike the concoctions from back in the day, most modern-day edibles don’t really even taste or smell much like cannabis. There are sweet options, savory options, crunchy options or chewy ones. If you want to indulge in some rich decadent sweets, you can do that — but there are healthy cannabis edibles available as well that include low- and no-sugar choices. Healthy cannabis edibles can include vegan options made with beet sugar and a low glycemic index as well as sparkling tonics with naturally derived ingredients and mood-enhancing terpenes that are marketed as wellness-focused products.
If you have never tried cannabis and are comparing cannabis tinctures vs edibles, edibles are a great entry-point into that vast unexplored world — especially with so many micro-dose options available for you to ease your way in slowly. And if you are an old school stoner who has only experienced DIY homemade edibles, you will be blown away by how the cannabis edibles market and the products within it have advanced.
Wherever you fall on the cannabis edibles experience spectrum, come see all that is currently available within the cannabis industry by attending a CannaCon cannabis business expo near you. Whether you have an interest in cannabis or the cannabis industry, CannaCon offers something for everyone. With an open marketplace of products and services you can purchase directly from manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers, in addition to loads of educational seminars, CannaCon truly is the show you don’t want to miss!