Cooking With Cannabis 101 – How To Make Cannabis-Infused Gummies

It’s Monday and that means another segment of Cooking With Cannabis 101, this week we’ll cover how to make your own cannabis-infused gummies! The process of making cannabis-infused gummies is really quick and easy. All you’ll need is your favorite gummies and a THC tincture. To learn how to make your own tincture, click here. […]

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A Guide To The Basic Cannabis Consumption Methods

There are a handful of different ways you can choose to consume your cannabis. To help you choose, here’s a guide to the basic cannabis consumption methods. Cannabis Consumption via Smoking Smoking is easily the most well-known and most common method for cannabis consumption. Smoking cannabis involves lighting the actual cannabis flower and inhaling the […]

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Drinkables are the New Edibles. Where, When, and How Can You Get Them?

Why do consumers love drinkable cannabis? Let us count the ways. It’s discreet, it requires no special equipment, it tastes good, and it’s a familiar and safe delivery system. 

Weed-infused drinks make up one of the fastest-growing segments of the cannabis market. It’s a sprawling category that includes tinctures to mix with cocktails; non-alcoholic alternatives to wine, beer, or champagne; wellness beverages that can lull you to sleep or take the place of aspirin or ibuprofen after a strenuous game of hoops or tennis; and sparkling sodas that are as appealing to millennials as they are to baby boomers who aren’t comfortable lighting up.

Here are answers to some common questions about cannabis tonics.

Why Are There so Many Drinkables?

Bottoms up! Straddling the lines among intoxicating drinks, wellness shots, and liquid medicine, drinkable cannabis is taking off. According to BDS Analytics, which tracks cannabis trends, there were 88 beverage brands on the market in mid-2019; that’s 19 more than during the same time period in 2018. In 2018, beverages made up 6% of the total edibles market in the United States. That percentage is rising steadily and BDS predicts that by 2022 canna-beverages, including THC and cannabidiol (CBD) products sold in dispensaries and non-THC drinks sold in supermarkets, drugstores, convenience stores, and the like could be a $1 billion market. 

A lot of familiar names are behind this boom. Mike Tyson has launched Dwiink, a line of CBD-enhanced water and fruit-flavored beverages whose name is a playful wink to his trademark lisp. Big booze distributors are investing heavily in weedy drinks: Heineken-owned Lagunitas offers Hi-Fi Hops, a pair of nonalcoholic, zero-calorie beverages that come in two dosages, 10 milligrams THC, or 5 milligrams each of THC and CBD per bottle. 

Constellation Brands, which owns Corona beer, Robert Mondavi wine, and Svedka vodka, is investing billions in Canopy Growth, a mega Canadian cannabis producer that’s creating nonalcoholic cannabis-infused drinks. Molson Coors is partnering with Canada’s Hydropothecary Corp. on a similar venture.

Meanwhile, the maker of Arizona Iced Tea has signed a licensing agreement with Dixie Brands to manufacture and distribute canna-drinks under the Arizona label.

Other companies are expanding into the drinks space, such as Weller, a manufacturer of functional snacks. The Boulder, Colorado, company in 2019 launched a line of CBD-infused sparkling water flavors it calls W+ and a CBD drink mix.  

(Photo courtesy of Weller)
W+ is a line of fruit-flavored, BD-enriched sparkling water from Colorado-based Weller, a maker of functional snacks.

Why Did Cannabis Drinks Take so Long to Hit the Market?

Developing a beverage infused with CBD or THC is a lot more complicated than mixing gin with tonic. For one thing, cannabinoids are hydrophobic — meaning they repel water. Drop cannabinoids into water and they’ll float to the surface rather than dispersing evenly.

It’s taken cannabis chemists a lot of hit-or-miss experiments to overcome this hurdle. SōRSE, a Seattle-based beverage-tech company, is one of the innovators in the field, developing a method to convert cannabis oils into a water-soluble emulsion that has no cannabis taste or smell and that disperses uniformly throughout liquid. The technology is proprietary and Michael Flemmens, SōRSE’s vice president of science, will say only that the company uses food-grade components that have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as GRAS, or generally recognized as safe.

The company uses the ingredients to produce THC-infused products that include Happy Apple, a sparkling, cannabis-infused apple beverage; Utopia, fruit-flavored sparkling water with 10 to 100 milligrams of THC per 12-ounce bottle; and Vertus, an alcohol-free sparkling bubbly that’s meant to be an alternative to sparkling wine or Champagne, and which comes in dosages of 50 or 100 milligrams of THC.

Will Drinkable Weed Trigger Paranoia?

Predictability is one of the advantages well-formulated THC-infused beverages have over edibles, said Niccolo Aieta, Ph.D., founder and Chief Technology Officer for Spherex, a Denver-based company that develops cannabis concentrates and whose products include Phyx, a sparkling water brand with microdoses of THC and CBD.

“Cannabis drinks are fast-acting, taking effect within minutes as opposed to several hours with edibles,” he said. “That allows users to better control their experience and gives them an overall better experience.”  The Phyx website advises users that, on average, they’ll feel the drink’s effects in 10 minutes, with the buzz hanging around for about an hour. 

With 2.5 milligrams of CBD and 2.5 milligrams of THC, “Phyx is the equivalent of a nice glass of white wine,” Aieta said. “It’s a slight elevation of your daily mood, good for unwinding, relaxing and socializing with friends. For people who are canna-curious, it’s a great way to explore and experiment.” 

Flemmens strikes a similar note. “Our biggest seller is Happy Apple with 10 milligrams THC,” he said. “We suggest that inexperienced cannabis users try it on a Saturday night at home, not a Friday night at a party. Drink half the bottle, put it in the fridge and wait half an hour. If you like the experience, you have two choices. You can stay where you are or go for the rest of the bottle.”

The woman-owned and -operated Humboldt Apothecary takes an herbalist’s approach to cannabis by formulating tinctures with medicinal herbs to work in concert with the full-spectrum cannabis. The blends of botanical ingredients with cannabinoids not only aid a more rapid onset, according to the company, but also help to achieve certain effects: a peppermint formula for relief of congestion, passionflower and lavender for sleeping, or gingko and rosemary for a brain boost. Humboldt Apothecary suggests using a couple of drops in a mocktail, much the way you might add bitters to a traditional cocktail. 

As for CBD drinks, Scott Van Rixel, CEO of Bhang, which makes a line that includes Wellness Beet Shots with 25 milligrams of hemp-derived CBD, thinks of these as wellness, not recreational, products.

(Photo courtesy of Humboldt Apothecary)
Humboldt Apothecary makes botanically infused tinctures using full-spectrum cannabis. Its Deep Sleep formula contains passionflower and lavender.

“They’re making accessible the benefits of a plant that used to be a part of people’s lives on a daily basis,” said Van Rixel, who noted those benefits include relaxation, better sleep, relief from irritability, or inflammation. Van Rixel suggested that consumers might want to think of CBD beverages the way they do energy drinks: Find the dose — a single shot in the morning or several throughout the day — that works best for them.

Where Can You Buy These Products?

That’s complicated. Very complicated. Regulations are an ever-changing mess, with state and federal rules sometimes contradicting each other. The FDA published a statement that noted the agency is aware that products on the market are adding CBD to foods or labeling CBD as a dietary supplement. However, the agency advised that, “Under federal law, it is currently illegal to market CBD this way.”

Consumers can start with a product’s website for “where to buy” info. Some drinks are being tested in one or two cannabis-friendly markets, such as Colorado or Washington, or in Canada, where cannabis is legal nationwide.  Dispensaries in states where marijuana is legal also are carrying an ever-expanding selection of beverages with THC and CBD. 

Many CBD drinks can be shipped to all 50 states. Thanks to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, some states allow beverages with hemp-derived CBD to be sold in groceries. For example,  Queen City Hemp CBD Seltzer, which was launched in 2017 and was the first CBD seltzer in the U.S., is sold at retailers in 26 states, including several conservative states such as Alabama, Texas, and Georgia. However, the sparkling beverage cannot be sold in cannabis-friendly California because of complex state regulations.

Queen City’s founder, Nic Balzer, who’s part of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, echoed the views of others in the canna-beverage biz when he said, “There are a lot of regulatory challenges and we’re hopeful that the FDA will make a ruling soon that will clarify these laws.”

 

Feature image: Boxing legend Mike Tyson aims to be the heavyweight champion of a fast-growing segment of edibles — drinkable cannabis. Dwiink, a play on Tyson’s distinctive lisp, is his line of CBD-enhanced water and fruit beverages. (Photo courtesy of The Ranch Companies)

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Chocolate Ingredients Throw Off Cannabis Potency Tests, Researchers Say

Chocolate may be messing with cannabis potency testing, scientists are warning, and it could mean packaged edibles are understating THC content. 

A study published by the American Chemical Society (ACS) found that chemical components in chocolate might be interfering with cannabis potency test results. The findings come from researchers at CW Analytical, a California-based lab founded in 2009 that predominantly tests materials for marijuana growers, manufacturers, and dispensaries, in legal markets. 

CW Analytical focused its research on cannabis-infused chocolates because of the chocolate’s popularity as an ingredient in edibles. The study did not disclose the size of the samples.  

“My research focuses on cannabis potency testing because of the high stakes associated with it,” said David Dawson, Ph.D., the study’s principal investigator, in a release.

Cannabis-infused chocolate is presenting variants for lab testing THC potency levels, laboratory CW Analyticals found in a recent study. (Kevin Kerr/American Chemical Society)

The results have shown that a component in the chocolate may be suppressing the signal for THC, causing “a matrix effect” in testing. This means the more chocolate in a given test can show a lower THC percentage. This interference is leading to inaccurate results for THC percentages in edibles produced with chocolate.

“When we had less cannabis-infused chocolate in the sample vial, say 1 gram, we got higher THC potencies and more precise values than when we had 2 grams of the same infused chocolate in the vial,” Dawson explained. This goes against what I would consider basic statistical representation of samples, where one would assume that the more sample you have, the more representative it is of the whole.” 

In lab testing, the concentration of THC is measured by what is called high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). So what’s causing the suppression of THC percentages?

“Our best lead right now is that it has something to do with the fats, which makes sense considering that delta-9-THC is fat-soluble,” Dawson said. The researchers at CW Analytical are trying to determine which components in different types of chocolates — chocolate bars, cocoa powder, baker’s chocolate, white chocolate — are causing the HPLC signal changes. “We also noticed, kind of anecdotally, some weird potency variations depending on how we prepared chocolate samples for testing,” he said. Dawson studied the effects of altering sample preparation conditions, such as the amounts of chocolate and solvent, pH, and type of chocolate.

(Photo: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

The effects of edible testing inaccuracies cost cannabis business owners time and money.

“If an edible cannabis product tests 10% below the amount on the label, California law states that is must be relabeled, with considerable time and expense,” Dawson said in the release. “But it’s even worse if a product tests 10% or more above the labeled amount — then the entire batch must be destroyed.”

CW Analytics said it hopes to continue its testing and extend analyses to other cannabinoids including cannabidiol (CBD), as well as other foods. This research will be presented at the ACS’s fall 2019 National Meeting & Exposition in San Diego. ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and its event welcomes thousands of scientific presentations. The Cannabis Chemistry Subdivision has seen growth in membership and attendance to its presentations, a former committee chair told Weedmaps News in April 2019.

Feature image: (Photo: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps)

 

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First Cannabis Cafe in the U.S. Now Has an Opening Date

The first-of-its-kind weed restaurant in America, Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe in West Hollywood, California, has announced its opening date of September 1, 2019. It was granted final approval in a unanimous vote July 16, 2019, by the West Hollywood Business License Commission.

The commission approved its application unanimously, and the license is good for one year. Although it still needs approval for its California retail license, Lowell Farms is poised to be the first to open America’s first cannabis restaurant

“We are excited to set the example, one we do not take lightly,” said the cafe’s Head Chef Andrea Drummer. Being the first restaurant to serve weed-infused food is a responsibility that she doesn’t take lightly. Drummer believes that she and her team can show how cannabis be “responsibly integrated into society.”

“It is a historic moment not only for cannabis, but the country as a whole,” Drummer said. “We are proud to bring the first-ever cannabis restaurant to the United States, and it’s gratifying to open a space that will foster educational and responsible consumption.”

Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe is scheduled to open Sept. 1, 2019, in West Hollywood, California. (Photo courtesy of Lowell Farms)

Drummer is a longtime marijuana advocate and has worked as a private chef for Miguel, Wiz Khalifa, and Chelsea Handler. She’s also the author of “Cannabis Cuisine: The Art of Cooking with Marijuana” and has appeared on Netflix’s “Cooking on High” and “Chelsea On!” The cafe’s menu was made by Drummer and will include cannabidiol (CBD)– and THC-infused food items and vegetarian options. 

In the cafe’s smoking-approved areas, the restaurant will offer “Tableside Flower Service.” Guests will be offered different Lowell Herb Co. strains by a “Flower Host” who can explain the weed’s specific effects and flavor profiles and roll joints for the table. Bongs and dabs will also be available.

Representatives of Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe, poised to be the first marijuana-infused cuisine restaurant in the U.S. to also allow smoking and dabbing, say the facility will be equipped with air filtration equipment to suppress the plant’s odor. (Photo courtesy of Lowell Farms)

Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe was given the final approval during the West Hollywood Business License Commission meeting on July 16. Eater Los Angeles reported that Rabbi Denise L. Eger of Reform Congregation Kol Ami, the new cafe’s neighbors, sent West Hollywood’s City Council an email about his concerns regarding the cafe’s location right next to the synagogue. John Leonard, West Hollywood’s Community and Legislative Affairs Manager, explained that Lowell had anticipated potential weed odors and installed an air purification system.

“We screened countless air filtration proposals and selected a system that specializes in local capture,” said Kevin Brady, the restaurant’s director, “similar to what’s used in a luxury Las Vegas hotel, chemical lab, or hospital.” In addition to the custom air filter, Lowell is “planting air-purifying and odor-absorbing landscaping as an additional precaution.”

Brady said the restaurant acknowledges the concerns of the community, including Congregation Kol Ami’s, and wants to be clear in its respectful, responsible, safe-use approach. 

Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe released more renderings of the highly anticipated restaurant, which shows plants draped on every available space, pothos flowing down off of ceiling rafters. One of the patios of the cafe will be for non-smoking guests.

Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe, set to open Sept. 1, 2019, in West Hollywood, California, has been a project four years in the making, says Head Chef Andrea Drummer. (Photo courtesy of Lowell Farms)

The restaurant will be located at 1201 N. La Brea Ave. in West Hollywood. Mark and Jonnie Houston of Houston Hospitality have partnered with Lowell to make “Lowell Cafe into a true one of its kind cannabis destination,” according to a statement from Lowell.

“Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe has been four years in the making,” Drummer told Weedmaps News. “As pioneers of ending cannabis prohibition, we are devoted to the treatment of cannabis in the same light as alcohol. The first step was making it for sale, and now it is to give the public access to a safe, communal space where cannabis can be consumed without stigma.”

 

Featured image courtesy of Lowell Farms. 

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