This year in the U.S., Colorado and Washington State allowed marijuana to be sold through licensed shops for recreational use. Colorado legalized recreational pot and allowed sales starting Jan. 1 of this year, generating millions of dollars in taxes, say various reports. With the move, food processors got in on the act, creating a thriving edible marijuana industry.
In Canada, only licensed commercial producers can sell marijuana in dried form, says Health Canada. There are 20 producers in Canada now and only 13 are licensed to sell to the public. You can find them on Health Canada’s website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca. Under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) other forms of marijuana, such as edibles or oils, are not permitted to be sold by licensed producers. However, the MMPR do not restrict how dried marijuana is to be ingested or inhaled.
In Colorado, reports USAToday.com, the marijuana edibles market has become far more popular than anyone expected. It’s also brought to light some safety issues. For consumers who’ve never tried marijuana at all, an edible might be far more potent than they realize, leading to some serious side effects. Experts are calling for more education on how doses and potency affect the body with edibles. Edibles can also pass for kids’ treats. In Colorado, for instance, there have been cases of children consuming gummy bears and cookies. Even dogs have fallen for the treats.
Food safety is another issue, but these manufacturers are being monitored. Julie Dooley, the owner and baker at Denver-based Julie & Kate Baked Goods LLC, says her company is regulated by the city and the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division. The Food and Drug Administration does not monitor the business but commercial kitchens, says Dooley, must be health department certified.
Dooley says her company began to research marijuana edibles in 2009. When the market opened up, she says, “we decided to tailor our product line exclusively for adults by developing a healthy product line as natural as cannabis.” Julie & Kate produce gluten-free edibles such as fresh granola, granola bars, nutty bites and bars, and roasted sunflower and pumpkin seed mixes. There’s also a cannabis-infused butter. The products are sold to licensed dispensaries throughout the state.
Dooley says there are challenges in this market. For one thing, regulations continue to change and she says it’s difficult keeping up with labelling standards and packaging requirements. To deal with this she orders labels and packaging in smaller amounts. A unique challenge for Dooley, especially as a mom, is that she’s creating products that don’t appeal to children and teenagers. But it’s not like the adult market hasn’t been a boon. “With the new legal adult use,” says Dooley, “our company has seen exponential growth in a very short period of time.”
This article appeared in the print issue:July/August 2014 edition, News File section