The arrival of legal marijuana sales has brought with it many benefits ranging from medical aide to putting a serious dent in black market sales. However, the industry will face many challenges in the coming years, and easily one of the most pressing is the standardization of dosage in edible marijuana products. As demand for these products increases, existing suppliers with small-scale operations will struggle to keep up and, in their attempts to do so, will likely end up sacrificing product quality and dosage reliability.
Due to the continuing federal prohibition of marijuana, regulatory bodies such as the FDA and FSIS cannot, and will not, evaluate marijuana products, instead leaving the regulation of MIPs up to states, municipalities and often times the manufacturers themselves. Due to the novelty of this industry and the lack of guidance with regards to food safety, we are currently seeing a very broad range of dosage in edibles, with THC content sometimes clocking in at 50% of the advertised value. This is the only legal industry in the world where such discrepancies are not only present, but accepted.
Thankfully, in the years since the first successful legalization efforts, the infused products industry has come a long way in terms of quality and reliability. Almost all states now require that MIPs publish standard operating procedures and mandate that each batch of product be tested for potency by a third-party laboratory prior to sale. Thanks to these measures, consumers are much more aware of what they are buying and how it will affect them.
At present, the status quo seems to be sufficient in supplying the current demand for marijuana infused products. While overall consumption has risen, incidents of excessive ingestion and excessive doses are declining. All products sold in legal dispensaries are clearly labeled with ingredient lists and proper warnings. However, we aren’t out of the woods quite yet.
The vast majority of the growth in legal marijuana sales is driven by the rapidly growing sector of edible products and concentrates. Marijuana Business Daily reported that in Q1 of 2016 concentrate and edibles sales in Colorado grew at 125% and 53% respectively.
This increase in demand will cause disruptions and put strain on manufacturers. Orders will start piling up, inventories will shrink, and suddenly the guys and gals cooking the candy are working harder and longer hours just to keep up. The classic “I Love Lucy” situation. It doesn’t take an expert to see how a situation like this could cause manufacturers to make more mistakes and cut corners.
Media outlets such as The Denver Post have conducted investigations of edible potency and found that, while very few edible products contained more active THC than advertised, many contained far less. So what gives? Why are producers short-selling their customers? The reasons are vast, and, in my opinion, the primary culprit is a simple lack of manufacturing expertise.
So how do we do to fix this problem? We need to up the technology and integrate expertise from other industries.
We’ve already seen this happen in certain sectors of the industry. Cultivators enlisted grow-masters with decades of experience and integrated state-of-the-art lighting technologies. PhD Scientists are joining extraction companies in droves, bringing with them experience from the food-grade oil and ingredient industries.
The result? We have since developed the highest quality marijuana plants and extracts in history and made them widely available to the public. We have yet to see this trend take hold in the edible products sector, and its arrival is well overdue.
Denver Post Image - http://www.denverpost.com/2015/04/11/report-more-than-15-months-in-pot-infused-edibles-still-confound/
MJ Biz Daily - https://mjbizdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Chart-of-the-Week-6-13-16.png