The sometimes illicit relationship between brownies and pot has weathered decades. But now cannabis has begun expanding its horizons and has added all sorts of other partners.
As laws and social acceptance of marijuana changes, possible culinary pairings now include caramels, cookies, mints, lemonade, tea, coffee – even coconut oil.
Plus, while some amateur canna-chefs still enjoy experimenting with their weed in the kitchen, others prefer to purchase their edibles in precisely-measured dosages from area retailers.
Shilo Morgan, co-owner of Lucky Leaf Co., a downtown Spokane retailer, offers consumers an array of edibles, ranging from Evergreen Herbal “high tea” to caramels to infused coffee. Her personal favorites are Journeyman “Weed Tarts,” chewy candies made by botanicaSeattle.
Edibles account for roughly 10 percent of sales at Lucky Leaf, said Morgan.
At Lucid, another cannabis retailer with locations in Cheney and Newport, purchasers Dennis Turner and Michael Schofield said the edible inventory includes chocolates, peanut butter cups, truffles, tinctures, caramels, and more. Its top edible sellers are the locally-made Blue Roots Cake Bites, plus Gaga’s Starburst-like Juicies, and lemonades.
Edibles are manufactured with different percentages of THC and CBD. THC is the psychoactive part of the marijuana plant and CBD is another natural compound in the plant believed to offer pain relief.
Products containing CBD in recreational marijuana stores must contain a small amount of THC to make the CBD active. The minimum THC allowed in recreational products is 0.3 percent.
One benefit of edibles over other marijuana products is that nothing goes into your lungs, said Morgan.
Edibles are also discreet so they can appeal to broad demographics that can include everyone from lawyers to doctors to cancer patients.
Tinctures are especially popular because they can be added to food or drink in controlled dropper-sized
The largest demographic of customers seeking cannabis options at both Lucky Leaf and Lucid are people aged 40 to 70 suffering with back pain, neck pain, and fibromyalgia.
Infused products containing CBD are also used to combat drug addiction and withdrawal.
Morgan said some military veterans wind up opting for marijuana products in place of their prescribed
pain medications. Some who suffer from Crohn’s disease consume edibles to ease pain and aid their dietary patterns, added Turner and Schofield at Lucid.
Chris Rea, Morgan’s hair stylist and friend, has received help from CBD and other products. Rea said he is recovering from meth addiction and marijuana helps with his anxiety.
Recovering addicts are often prescribed pills that can cause liver damage, but certain people would rather eat candy that increases appetite and decreases pain, said Schofield.
One concern that has surrounded the increasingly appetizing selection of edibles on the market is the possible appeal to children or confusion with non-infused treats.
Schofield pointed out that wine coolers and liquor candies also appeal to children, and are sold in many different places besides cannabis stores.
Blast Packs, a sugary powder infused with cannabis, exemplify the extensive screening edibles undergo by the Liquor and Cannabis Board. Packages are also labeled with the Washington Poison Center’s warning symbol.
Brian Smith, LCB spokesman, said the agency didn’t permit Blast Packs to be packaged in straws because of the close resemblance to Pixy Stix. Similar denials took place regarding edibles processed as lollipops or Gummi bears.
The Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council, a group dedicated to lessening childrens’ use of drugs and alcohol, endorses the Liquor and Cannabis Board’s efforts to screen products, said Linda Thompson, the group’s executive director.
“We just really support what the Liquor Cannabis Board is doing with making sure that the edibles do not appeal to children,” she said.
Retailers also said they support these efforts to clearly show that every product is for adults only.
The majority of edible packaging is plain, dark and winds up resembling health food packaging. Certain packaging, however, like Weed Tarts, has bright colors and designs.
Turner and Schofield said producers are getting better at putting edibles in appropriate packaging that kids won’t grab for.
Ultimately, responsibility falls to parents and existing law, and even retailers encourage parents to use caution in how they store their products at home.
Morgan and other local cannabis professionals are planning an educational show for CMTV and previously started EWCA, the Eastern Washington Cannabis Association. Schofield is an event coordinator.