Cannabis Edibles: The Promises and Challenges

By: Jackie Bowen

Cannabis-infused edibles have overtaken the market, and the cannabis industry is worth $61 billion in the US alone. Consumers love their convenience, flavor, and health benefits. The chemical compound cannabidiol can help relieve stress, reduce anxiety and alleviate pain. However, cannabis edibles are under increased scrutiny as they continue to grow in popularity.

First, cannabis edibles might taste too good. This may lead to overconsumption and can be exacerbated by the fact that unlike cannabis that is inhaled, edibles need to be digested. Digestion can take up to 90 minutes to begin and up to three hours to feel the full effect. This is highly variable given someone’s weight, metabolism, and the product’s concentration. This delay can contribute to a consumer “just taking a little bit more” in order to achieve the desired effect.

Second, the cannabis edible industry has come under attack for marketing and branding that might be attractive to children and teenagers. In Canada, regulations have emphasized keeping cannabis-based products out of the hands of children. Cannabis edibles like chocolates, candies, and topicals must “not be appealing to youth” meaning restrictions on fonts, characters, flavors, and shapes. Finally, given the absence of federal regulations and guidance in the US, brands have taken the onus upon themselves to self-regulate. Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) may table stakes in the food industry, but when it comes to CBD and cannabis-infused products, these best practices aren’t as commonplace. Brands need to be much more proactive rather than reactive and make no assumptions when it comes to food safety.

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