by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Marijuana

Apr 26 2017

The food politics of pot: a roundup

The increasing legalization of medical and recreational marijuana has many implications for food politics.  I’ve been collecting these items for the past couple of weeks.

Dixie Elixirs, a maker of edibles including its new lines of THC-infused sour cherry, grape and lemon-flavored Fruit Tarts and Blazin’ Cinnamon and Citrus Blast Dixie Gummies, spends anywhere from 50%-75% of its marketing budget on education — particularly education aimed at budtenders, said the company’s CMO Joe Hodas.

Feb 6 2017

The latest in veterinary medicine: Stoned pets

I occasionally write about the food politics of marijuana-infused edibles.

Something new every day.

Here’s the latest veterinary problem: stoned dogs.

Dogs get into their owners’ edibles.  Yum.

Veterinarians say they see cases of “canine marijuana poisoning” every day, with a big increase since 2010.

Pets get their own medical marijuana, as needed.  But edibles cause emergency room visits.

This is all so complicated.  You also have to make sure your kids don’t get into the drugs prescribed for your pets.

Lots to worry about.  Have a great week.

Nov 2 2016

Marijuana-infused edibles: No money in them? Really?

As decriminalization of marijuana use proceeds steadily, I am seeing more attention focused on cannabis-infused edibles.  These are now produced commercially by businesses that go well beyond brownies.

Pediatricians, as I’ve discussed previously, are worried about kids eating them.

These days:

  • Edibles account for half of cannabis sales.
  • Baked goods alone account for 10% of cannabis sales.
  • The total cannabis market is projected to reach $27 billion this year.

But in Colorado, where such things are legal, producers are complaining that the regulatory environment is so difficult that they can’t make a profit.

According to a report in the industry newsletter, Bakery and Snacks, the profit problem was the focus of an education session at a Las Vegas conference on “The Future of Wholesale Baking with Marijuana,” conducted by two producers of infused edibles, Sweet Grass Kitchen and Love’s Oven.  Their gripes:

  • “Regulations are killing the business.”
  • “The leftover cannabis after extraction…has to be destroyed by bakery employees on camera, and locked in a compost container and sent to a compost facility.”
  • “Licensed marijuana bakers have to pay around $16,000 per month to the State of Colorado and the City of Denver for product testing conducted by a verified third-party laboratory.”
  • The labeling requirements are onerous: “It’s very difficult to stamp a baked good like a chocolate chip cookie. We don’t make Oreos. This new law has forced us all to spend a lot of capital on new machines and capabilities that are way above what a non-infused bakery of our size would typically have.”

Startups are always hard.  But with half of $27 billion at stake, and more and more states considering legalizing the stuff, I can see why they are hanging in there.

While we are on the topic, a new paper in JAMA reviews statistics on marijuana use in the U.S. and reports 7000 new users a day, and rising.  It calls for better surveillance of how much is used, and how.

I will be watching the use and the business of edibles with much interest.

Aug 4 2016

The latest in food politics: marijuana-infused edibles

JAMA Pediatrics has just published a report that cases of marijuana intoxication in young children has increased since the drug was legalized in Colorado.  The authors are careful to note that the number of cases is small relative to those that occur in kids consuming pharmaceutical drugs or household cleaning products, but the trend is not good.

Nearly half the cases occurred in kids eating foods in which THC (tetrahydrocannibinaol) is a prominent ingredient:

Known marijuana products involved in the exposure included 30 infused edible products (48%): 17 baked goods (cookies, brownies, and cake), 10 candies, and 2 popcorn products…. Ingestion of edible products continues to be a major source of marijuana exposures in children and poses a unique problem because no other drug is infused into a palatable and appetizing form. These palatable products are often indistinguishable from the noninfused products.

Dosing a drug in a “serving size” less than typically recommended for an equivalent food product also can be a source of confusion. For example, a marijuana chocolate bar can contain multiple 10-mg THC single-dose units. In adults, overconsumption of edible projects is associated with an increase in ED visits resulting from dysphoric reactions, panic attacks, and anxiety. Edibles have also been blamed for 3 adult deaths in Colorado.

Pot-laced popcorn?

One concern is that the infused edibles look like normal foods.  You have to read the fine print to see the THC label.

And they are not likely to go away.  THC-edibles are big business.  They accounted for 45% of marijuana sales last year, according to the Denver Post.

Dr. Christopher Colwell, chief of emergency medicine at Denver Health Medical Center…estimated there was a fivefold to tenfold increase in the number of patients — including a sharp rise in the number of adolescents and teenagers — arriving at the hospital after consuming part or all of a marijuana edible.

Colwell said he expected an increase in the number of marijuana cases. But he said he was surprised and concerned with the higher potency of THC in the edibles and the more severe symptoms it can cause.

Users: be careful.

Parents: keep the brownies away from kids.

I’m guessing we will be hearing  a lot more about this issuse.