Edibles 101

Regardless of where you’re operating from, you’ve probably heard about the growth of the sales of cannabis extracts and edibles in markets nationwide.

Consumers are increasingly looking for alternatives to smoking, for a variety of reasons, some growers are tapping into this market by making their own edibles. It may sound like a reach to go from farming to making and packaging candies, but there are good reasons to consider making the jump beside the potential for market growth.

First off, THC is pretty simple to put into food. It’s fat-soluble, so lots of foods that are either savory or sweet make for good pairings. Gummies, chocolates and hard candy are all practically made to carry cannabis, but it doesn’t stop there. Cannabis has found its way into protein powder, peanut butter, even soda. If you do your own processing to make cannabis oil, you’re already partway there.

Making edibles also contributes to the de-stigmatization of cannabis. Just like e-readers freeing people up to read what they like without being judged, edibles are letting cannabis consumers dose themselves in peace. Grandma is a lot more comfortable carrying a tin of mints in her purse for her arthritis than she is carrying a pipe.

It gives you a chance to have a product with brand-recognition. The effects of cannabis on a person vary by dosage, the ratios of THC and CBD, which terpenes are present in the bud, and the consumer’s physiology. Consumers who are looking for a consistent, repeatable experience are turning to strain labels and terpene percentages to figure out what they like.

As a result, they may be buying a quarter-ounce of sour diesel out of a glass jar. The jar has a label, but it was hand-written by the dispensary owner, who wrote ‘Sour Diesel’ in large letters, and ‘Your Cannabis Farm’s Name’ in very small letters beneath. The owner isn’t malicious, but he knows that most of his customers want to know the strain first and the source second.

Compare that jar to the packaging of a bar of chocolate, a tin of lozenges, or a cookie. You control the packaging, and you can make it memorable. It’s a chance to let your creativity show, and get the customer interested in your story as a grower.

There are some things that growers looking to enter the edible market should keep in mind. The laws about what edibles are acceptable to make, and what requirements there are for packaging, vary from state to state, but they’re centered around keeping them out of the hands of children and teenagers.

Washington, for instance, doesn’t allow the sale of edible gummies because they are considered too close to children’s candy. In Colorado, edibles are required to have ‘THC’ stamped on them, to make it clear they contain cannabis if they have been separated from their packaging. That packaging is also required to be childproof.

It’s also advisable to give some thought to your target market. Is the person buying your edible concerned about being discrete? If so, it would be counterproductive if the product contained a lot of terpenes that make it smell of cannabis. Are they looking for a tasty compliment to a meal, or a quick bite for when their knee hurts? Bud may be bud, but brownies are not lozenges.

Micro-dosing is more popular in all parts of the cannabis market, and that affects edibles as well. Having small doses of THC, which are consistent from candy to candy, is attractive to people looking for a finer control of their experience. The general advice for first-time edible consumers is that 10 mg of THC is enough for a good high. If you make a product that can easily be consumed in 5mg or 2.5 mg portions, they can eat exactly what they want, and no more.

The way our society approaches and interacts with cannabis will change considerably in the months and years to come. The legal landscape will slowly shift, and more medical research will either vindicate or refute the many non-scientific observations of successful cannabis treatments. If recreational cannabis legalization expands from a state experiment to the national norm, one thing is certain. Edibles will be a big part of the national market.

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