Industry Responsible for Edible Marijuana

Edible Safety

How do you like to take your marijuana? Do you like to smoke it, vaporize it or take it in an edible form? If you answered edible, then you are not alone. Many individuals prefer edible marijuana for the relaxation it produces, while others prefer edibles because they don’t involve inhaling carcinogenic smoke.  Plus, sometimes it’s just easier to pop a cannabis cookie into your mouth.

Regardless of  whether you like to use your marijuana in a pipe or on a pizza, there is no denying that edible marijuana is becoming more popular than ever; and despite concerns regarding dosage and safety, it is on its way to becoming a promising niche market for the cannabis industry.

Suckers and lozenges are some of the more popular forms of edible cannabis. Herbal entrepreneur Chad Tribble, co-owner of Denver based company Mountain High Suckers, spoke with the Associated Press about the boom recreational cannabis has given edibles and his company’s plans for expansion. “People are turning the corner and making lots of money in the rec[reational] department, and we expect to almost double the business in a year,” Tribble said.

However, as the edible market expands, concerns are being raised about public safety with regards to food handling practices and dosage.  On July 17, 2014, At Home Baked, a Denver-based edibles company, was forced to issue a recall on its easy bake pot brownies. The recall was prompted because the company was extracting hash using a washing machine that was not food-safe, a process called Ice-Water separation.

A.J. Ashkar, co-owner of At Home Baked, spoke with The Cannabist about the recall. “We’re really frustrated with the entire situation. They came in and the machine which we were utilizing to make water hash was not a food-safe machine,” Ashkar said.  “Food-safe machines to make water hash do not exist…we look at water hash as a concentrate — not a food,” he added.

While no one has gotten sick from Ashkar’s product, his situation is emblematic of a larger issue within the edible industry. Many of the individuals producing edible cannabis are used to less scrutiny regarding dosage and food handling procedures, but as cannabis becomes more mainstream, practices within the industry are subject to additional oversight.

Much of the controversy surrounding edible cannabis is dramatic hand wringing on behalf of cannabis opponents. If you recall, back in April, a man was arrested in Colorado for shooting his wife. Since the man ate cannabis candy, the media was whipped into a frenzy and blamed the edible cannabis. Never mind the man was also on painkillers (though they rarely mention that) and the fact that cannabis makes you less violent.

Right or wrong, appearances matter. stories of product recalls and killer cannabis hurt the entire industry. Even though these stories simply signify the growing pains of a burgeoning industry, the cannabis industry needs to take responsibility and regulate the edible market. If you are in this market or are thinking about joining it, you have to be more circumspect about your business practices.  Some states, like Washington, are already taking steps to fix this problem, but it is also up to the industry to self-regulate.

Self-regulation is the key to ending edible cannabis controversies and it is critical for the industry because edibles have the potential to become a huge niche market. Entrepreneurs are still interested in edibles, but negative press could scare them away or even worse, prompt the government to intervene.

Whether or not you believe the controversy surrounding edibles, ask yourself this: Would you rather regulate yourself or have a politician do it for you? After 77 years of government regulation, I think you know the answer.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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