Along with several local cannabis edibles experts, I was charged with evaluating the Edibles category at the recent Medical Cannabis Cup held in Los Angeles. We did this according to an exacting new system that weighs the judge's scores against the results of lab testing. We evaluated our edibles entries based on the appearance of the food, taste, potency, originality, and healthiness. Points are also awarded for packaging, based on the presence of an ingredients list, serving size, dosage, warning labels and childproof container. What makes judging edibles so difficult is the lack of a standardized system for determining dosage and serving sizes. Package information is often absent, confusing, or counterintuitive. Some edibles have absurdly small servings sizes that make overmedication a real risk, especially for the cannabis naive.
The goal of this contest is to recognize the best quality cannabis products, as well as raise the level of professionalism in the burgeoning medical marijuana industry. With that in mind, my fellow judges and I hashed out a list of recommendations to edibles producers to make their labeling clear and concise. Based on my personal experience and some research, an adequate dose for an adult human should be about 20mg to 30mg of THC, depending on your body weight and what you ate that day. Patients in severe pain may need more, up to 45mg per serving. A system based on a standardized dose of 25mg would eliminate a lot of uncertainty - double strength would then mean a serving size contained 50mg, triple strength would be 75mg, and so on. All edibles packaging should list the THC content in milligrams to avoid confusion. Serving size should be clearly stated: Eat one half of this cake to ingest 25mg of THC, for example. CBD content should also be listed in milligrams, as well as any relevant information about the sativa or indica genetic make-up of the strain used to make this edible. If kief, hash, trim, or flowers was the main ingredient for the infusion, then this information should be given as well.
It's also important to make sure your edibles have large, clear, no-nonsense "Medical Cannabis" labels with a pot leaf to avoid any accidental ingestion by a roommate, family member, friend or neighbor. Accordance with local medical cannabis laws should also be stated (i.e. "Produced in compliance with SB 420"). Warning labels should include "Keep away from children and pets" and "Do not drive or operate heavy machinery." Allergy information should be added to warning labels, and cannabis should be included in the ingredients (i.e. "This product contains cannabis butter, oil, etc."). Please include a company name, website and phone number so patients can get more information if necessary.
Along with all these concerns, my fellow judges and I also balanced our interest in culinary inventiveness with the needs of seriously ill patients. Granted, the variety of medical cannabis edibles available today allows a patient to choose a product suitable for all moods and occasions. Sometimes you might want to celebrate and enjoy a delicious piece of cake, while other situations might call for a very concentrated, small serving for patients who have no appetite or are experiencing nausea. Since marijuana is truly a medicine, I also like to see healthy, high-quality, preferably organic ingredients that provide nutritional value. Patients battling cancer and diabetes need to avoid sugar, and those concerned with high cholesterol, heart disease, and weight gain should cut back on saturated animals fats such as butter.
Top Edible Reviews from the LA Medical Cannabis Cup
1ST PLACE WINNER: Bhang Medicinal Cannabis Chocolate - the 180mg “Ice” bar - by Bhang Collective/Zen OC
Delicious peppermint-flavored chocolate created by master chocolatier Scott Van Rixel. It's no surprise that Bhang has been dominating the cannabis edibles industry, the quality is high indeed, while the packaging is informative, dosage is consistent and serving size is satisfying.
2ND PLACE WINNER: Cheeba Chews Decadose by DPC Inc.
One tiny Cheeba Chew is about the size of the Tootsie Roll, yet this Decadose packs a whopping 25 servings and a total of 175mg of THC. It's great for patients who need very concentrated medicine in a small serving size, but beware the unsuspecting stoner who eats the entire thing! Also, while the potency is high, the taste left judges with a tingling on their palate. Sometimes, small isn't always the best.
3RD PLACE WINNER: Aussie Roc by Bud and Roses Collective
I appreciated that this cookie was made with some high quality ingredients including oats, wheat flour, and coconut. Aussie Roc's Jack-a-Roo cookie tasted very nice, although one judge felt it may have been baked too long. The texture was very crunchy, but the cookie wasn't dry. There was no overwhelming cannabis flavor, although the medicinal effects were very nice. While adequate warning labels were used, much of the dosage and potency information was confusing.
Pineapple Fall Down Cake from Central Cali Caregivers
This cake was beautifully presented, very moist and tasty, with just enough punch to satisfy in a half-serving. It was a favorite for several judges who tasted it, yet there was no information provided for serving size, dosage or THC content. Also, the ingredients listed "Blackout butter and oil" with no clear "medicinal cannabis" label. With appropriate packaging and safety information, this item would be a serious contender!
Ganja Juice Medicated Smoothie from Go N Green
As a big fan of smoothies in general, I was really excited to have a healthy, fruity option to medicate with. Unfortunately, not enough label information was provided, and even after consuming the entire smoothie, I wasn't feeling the medicinal effects. With increased potency and clear THC content, dosage, and warning information, this product would have risen to the top.
Ganja Goodies Galaxy Bar from San Jose Patients Group
This large chocolate, buttery candy bar is apparently meant to be divided into 20 servings of a half-gram each. The smell and taste of cannabis was incredibly strong in this bar, but clear THC content information was not provided. Many judges felt it was too sweet and rich for everyday medical use, so save yours for a special occasion!
Jax Snax Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies from Arrow Alternative Remedies
A chewy, moist, classic cookie, this treat brought back memories of childhood comfort food. However, the cookie was a tiny bit too sugary, and while adequate label information was provided, with clear instructions for serving size, we felt it wasn't the most original product. However, if you're hankering for a medicated classic chocolate chip cookie to dip into some milk or coffee, this is the treat for you!
Thank you to everyone who entered their delicious edibles! We hope to see you next year!