Drugs

8 Exotic Marijuana-Infused Delectables That Put Simple Pot Brownies to Shame

High-tech pot companies are concocting clever infusions, testing them for potency and labeling their dosages.

Photo Credit: Kzenon / Shutterstock.com

The times are changing in the multibillion-dollar cannabis industry, and so are edible options. You may have heard of marijuana infused-cookies or brownies, but what about cannabis sodas, coffees and beers? If that's not exotic enough, what about cannabis beef jerky and baklava?

California’s experimental pot culture and medical marijuana dispensaries have forged the path of creative, ganja-laced goodies for decades, with everything from Cracker Jacks-style popcorn and nut treats to chocolate bars and lollipops. Now picking up the torch are Colorado and Washington’s newly legal, high-tech marijuana industries. Not only are companies coming up with the cleverest of infusions, they’re testing each treat for contamination and potency, and labeling their dosages. These dosages are so carefully calibrated they can infuse the THC (pot’s psychoactive element) into a tiny breath mint, right down to the milligram.

Lindsay Jacobsen of Denver’s Dixie Elixers and Edibles, said their most recent innovation is a beverage that contains doses low enough to be consumed in one sitting without too much of a high or negative side-effects.

“One of the new products we just launched is specifically for the recreational market and it’s called Dixie One,” Jacobsen said. “It's a new product that contains a low dose, single serving, all in one container.” (Note that eating, drinking, smoking or otherwise ingesting large quantities of cannabis has never actually killed anyone, but the experience can be overwhelming, especially for the uninitiated.)

The first Dixie One elixir is a watermelon-cream-flavored organic soda with just 5 milligrams of THC, which is a very small dose for most regular pot users. While it’s difficult to compare ingested cannabis with smoked since the two are metabolized differently in the body (and every person processes different forms of cannabis differently), a typical medium-grade joint contains about 10mg of THC.

While California's medical dispensaries have produced medicated edibles for decades, there is no regulatory system in place in the state, so it's up to dispensaries to choose whether they lab test their products and label dosages. While few negative incidents have resulted from the state's hodgepodge system, recent dispensary-run tests have found pesticide contamination in a number marijuana samples. As they forge the path for legal, adult-use pot in America, both Colorado and Washington are developing frameworks for what a regulated market should look like. They're setting templates for what constitutes responsible edible dosages, and corresponding rules and labeling. Both states’ cannabis regulatory bodies have come out with stringent labeling requirements for all pot shops, and advocacy groups are doing outreach to educate the public about reasonable, safe dosages. In Colorado, the 5mg dosage is commonly agreed upon as a moderate experience for first-timers, or first-in-a-long-timers, by Colorado’s Cannabis Business Alliance, Edibles Council and other groups. They’ve come up with the slogan “First Time 5” to get the word out.

Jacobsen said coming from the medical marijuana market, which most of Colorado’s pot businesses did, the lower dosages were an adjustment. Since the more you use cannabis the less you feel its effects, medical patients (who are regular users by default) tend to seek products with high potency levels. Producers got good at concentrating as much THC as possible in small packages, so that patients didn’t have to eat five chocolate bars in order to feel the effects. Now, the pot tourism market demands just the opposite.

“Originally... everyone said, man, 10 milligrams is a low dose, that seems like a good place to start,” she said. “But in reality 10 milligrams is not a low dose for a lot of people.”

In Colorado, as in Washington, makers of infused cannabis products are now required to do potency and homogeneity testing to be sure each treat in a batch contains the same, specified amounts of THC and other active ingredients. They are also required to list the potency profile on the package so consumers can easily see which cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.) they’re getting. Scientific labs test every product before it hits the shelves.

“We do it a couple different ways,” Jacobsen said. “Every package has to say total milligramage in that package unit. So, if for example we have two 25-milligram truffles, the package says 2x25mg. We also then break it down on nutritional panel by serving size. So, if you’re taking 10mg of the serving, that bag of truffles technically has five servings. So our nutritional information is calculated based on the serving.”

Jacobsen thinks some of the new rules and regulations coming out for the cannabis market will influence other markets in the future. For example, starting early next year any cannabis product either has to come in individual servings of 10mg or less, or has to be clearly demarcated and easily separable into bites of 10mg or less.

The innovations and creations in today’s expanding infused-cannabis world are many. Other than cookies and brownies (which have also gotten pretty creative in the last few years), here are some of the most inventive treats out there.

1. Coffee.

Photo: Mirth Provisions

Adam Stites, an entrepreneur in Longview, Washington whose company is called Mirth Provisions, created a cannabis coffee. Cold-brewed bottles hit the shelves in September and contain 20 milligrams of THC, according to the company’s website, which offers Stites' vision for changing the way people think about cannabis:

“Legal marijuana in our state is going to drive an economic renaissance that will change the way people think of this long-misunderstood plant… We’re a small town company that uses local, natural ingredients. With our entire manufacturing operation based out of Longview, we employ and partner with local folks. In this way, we’re part of a monumental shift in towns across the state that isn’t just about getting high with The Man’s permission, but also about revitalizing local economies. This is about changing our collective understanding of what marijuana means in our culture, because it can do a lot more for us than get us high. This is a marijuana renaissance.”

2. Soda.

Photo: Dixie Elixers

Cannabis sodas are taking off in Washington and Colorado. In addition to the low-dose Dixie One line mentioned above, Dixie has all kinds of infused elixirs to choose from. So do a number of other vendors. Up in Washington, Adam Stites is launching a soda line alongside coffee.

As the New York Daily News speculates, pot soda could come to replace the “traditional bottle of wine presented at dinner parties.”

Stites told KGW-TV, "It's much more approachable, as opposed to 'Hey, mom and dad, do you want a joint?'"

3. Mints.

Photo: Dixie Elixers

Dixie Elixers' cannabis Med-A-Mints were taken out of commission briefly due to a lawsuit over trademarks and packaging. But Jacobsen says they’ll be back soon. They contain 10 milligrams of THC in mints the size of a pinky fingernail.

4. Hemp beer.  

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/SarahMcD via Flickr

As Time reported, Colorado and Washington’s beer aficionados have taken advantage of the new laws to create a new type of brew. While hemp, marijuana’s botanical cousin, contains no THC and has never gotten anyone high, it was nationally banned along with marijuana under the 1937 Prohibitive Marijuana Tax Law. Brewers in the states are growing hemp, which is illegal and/or heavily restricted in all other states, and making beer. The beer can be sold across state lines as long as it’s proven THC-free, but as Time notes:

“[A] hemp brew’s label can’t contain any slang or graphics 'implying or referencing the presence of … marijuana' if it’s going to be approved by the federal government for sales across state lines. Joint Effort, made by Redhook Ale Brewery and Hilliard’s Beer, is decorated with the tag line 'a dubious collaboration between two buds.' And those puns, a company spokesman says, were enough for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to reject their label application.”

5. Lemonade.

Photo: High Times

After last year’s Cannabis Cup in Los Angeles (where cannabis product makers compete for various industry awards), High Times compiled a list of its favorite competitors. In third place (following a Blackberry Dark Chocolate Bar and Sweet Stone Gummy Bears) was a Strawberry Lemonade by Buds & Roses/Venice Cookie Company. Here's the review:

“Nicely packaged with a professional label stating that the drink contains 72 milligrams of THC, and a complete nutritional information panel, which is always appreciated. Advises consumption of 'half a serving ... until you know the effect of this product, wait a minimum of 35 minutes before consuming another portion.' Tastes like a great strawberry lemonade with a hefty hint of cannabis flavor. Overall, this lemonade is a nicely made, original product that can be a part of a normal, healthy lifestyle.”

6. Beef jerky.

Photo: SC Labs/Instagram

Yes, “cannabis beef jerky is a thing,” as Huffington Post marveled earlier this year. One such jerky, by Ma Ma Kush Edibles, received an honorable mention on High Times’ 2013 list. Santa Cruz Labs, a medical dispensary in Santa Cruz, CA, created the first (at least first widely recognized) cannabis jerky product and dubbed it Badfish, likely in reference to the popular Sublime song of the same name (there is a Sublime cover band in Santa Cruz called Badfish).

7. Tonic powder.

Photo: High Times 

In another list just titled "Best Edibles of 2013,” High Times raved about Siddhi Tonics’ tonic cannabis powder. The powder, much like a protein powder, can be mixed discreetly into any beverage.

Here’s what High Times had to say:

“Created by a young man named Madhu, who spent much of his life living in India, this medicated powder can be added to water, coffee or smoothies. With more than 80 milligrams of THC, this is a 'potent, energizing array of Ayurvedic, Chinese and Amazon herbal tonics' that contains caffeine-free adaptogenic herbs such as maca, cocoa, chicory, dandelion root, and chai spices. This is a modern twist on an ancient healing cannabis tonic, and can definitely be recommended to any patient.”

8. Kettle chips.

Photo: Granny T's Gourmet/High Times

Another High Times favorite are the salt and peppercorn kettle chips created by the Denver shop, Granny T’s Gourmet. The pot-product-review website, SoMileHigh.com also listed them as a must-have on a review of 10 Marijuana Infused Products You Have to Try in Denver.

April M. Short is a freelance writer who focuses on health, wellness and social justice. She previously worked as AlterNet's drugs and health editor.