While the cannabis edibles industry continued to grow by leaps and bounds in 2015, the chilling effect of increasing regulation became apparent in Colorado this year, with less creativity and originality present in the field of entries at the HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup held in Denver. The most recent ruling mandates a universal symbol—THC with an exclamation point—that must be stamped or marked on every edible to distinguish it from regular food, even when outside of its packaging. Edibles makers in Colorado fear that if their manufacturing costs continue to increase, customers will return to consuming black market edibles of unknown potency.
California edibles makers continue to enjoy their mostly unregulated marketplace, but that could all be coming to an end with the passage of medical marijuana regulations and a very restrictive initiative to legalize adult use in 2016. The California cannabis industry could look very much like Colorado's by 2018 if overly burdensome regulations continue to push mom-and-pop business out of the picture. It's a shame, because the edible cannabis offerings in California this year raised the bar for originality and healthfulness, proving that cannabis can be part of an active lifestyle.
While California continues to redefine cannabis as a health-positive nutritional supplement, other big trends this year included more low-dose products designed for new users, such as Altai's 25 milligram bon bons and Mellow's 5 milligram artisanal marshmallows, along with celebrity chefs and pop culture figures getting into the cannabis branding business.
The Top 15 favorites from 2015 were fierce competitors at HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup contests held in California, Colorado and Michigan. Each company designs excellent products with fantastic flavors and euphoric potency, continuing to push the cannabis edibles industry to new heights of professionalism and quality. There are more options on dispensary shelves than ever for cannabis consumers, from THC-infused kombucha teas and barbecue sauce to high-end chocolates, but it's important to remember that until our favorite celestial seasoning is fully legalized, we will need ongoing activism to ensure the industry stays open to all. With thousands of small businesses employing great numbers of our fellow pot-lovers, the cannabis industry is strong, vibrant and creative.
When choosing edibles, look for concise package information detailing how much you should eat and clear lab-tested results with THC content displayed in milligrams. First-time edibles users can tolerate anywhere from 5 to 25 milligrams of THC, so be sure to start with a reasonable dose of 10 milligrams if it's your virgin experience. Keep in mind that edibles can take up to two hours to digest before you start feeling the effects, and be sure to read all 10 Commandments of Edibles Safety before your maiden voyage.
A first-place winner at the HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup in Northern California, these macaroons blend health with euphoria. Handmade in Santa Cruz, these healthy indulgences arrive in an inventive, beautifully designed package that conveys all the relevant information, while still being eye-catching and unique. These raw, vegan macaroons pack high-quality ingredients into four small bite-size treats, each containing about 50 milligrams of THC and 200 mg per package. These simple yet scrumptious treats use maple syrup to sweeten, cocoa for an energy boost and cannabis-infused coconut oil for the euphoric bliss that results after eating one!
Bonus: Vegan pot peppermint patties recipe from Utopia Edibles.
Tree Hugger Cinnamon Maple & Tangy BBQ Nuts
The ladies at Om Edibles had a big year in 2015, capturing four HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup awards this year, including a Third Place Edibles Prize in Northern California last June for their Cinnamon Maple Tree Hugger Nuts, along with a First Place CBD Edibles Prize for their Raw CBD Sipping Cacao. But Om Edibles didn't stop there, coming back with spectacular entries for the World Cannabis Cup competition, earning a First Place Prize for their Holy Anointing Oil Topical and a First Place Prize in the World Cup CBD Edibles category for a CBD-rich version of the Cinnamon Maple Tree Huggers. In addition to all of the prestigious awards, Om Edibles was featured in a cannabis cooking show, so you can see how Maya creates her delicious cannabis infusions.
Tree Huggers are sweet, savory almonds and pecans coated with hemp seeds, maple syrup, solventless cannabis extract, cinnamon and sea salt, containing 100 milligrams of THC per tin for about three servings of 33 mg each or four servings of 25 mg each. The product does contain sugar, but in a small amount, making these a fantastic option to sprinkle on top of a salad or bowl of oatmeal for an added hint of sweetness.
Bonus: Go inside the all-female Om Collective cannabis garden with this exclusive video tour!
After a third place win in Denver during 2014, the boys from Badfish came back to take the First Place Edibles prize in San Bernardino last February with their delicious beef jerky. With improved packaging and labeling, this 100 milligram THC jerky is best consumed in small quantities until you are familiar with its effects, although our competition lab testing revealed only 91.3 milligrams of THC per serving, a bit under the stated label content. Still, this is a great option for those looking for a savory, protein-packed way to medicate throughout the day.
Bonus: Try Badfish’s recipe for BHO Barbeque Sauce!
Crème Brûlée and Cali High Thai'd Ice Cream
Beezle’s Creamery with Beezle Extracts
Beezle's Creamery showed strong originality and remarkable execution during the 2015 Cannabis Cup season, winning Second and Third Place Edibles Prizes in San Bernadino last February for their Crème Brûlée and Cali High Thai'd Ice Cream. Judges enjoyed the Crème Brûlée since it was an interactive “torch it yourself” dessert, which displayed originality but also great taste. You sprinkle the sugary topping on yourself, then hit it with your torch until it’s golden brown, forming a crackly sugar layer on top that you shatter with a spoon, digging into the creaminess beneath. Judges also loved the intense flavor and originality of the Cali High Thai'd Ice Cream, which tasted like a creamy frozen Thai Ice Tea in push-pop form.
Bonus: Make your own Dab Brûlée at home!
Pineapple Delight Bites
Taking home a Second Place Edibles Prize at the Northern California competition, these incredible creations combine dried fruits and finely ground nuts with hash-infused coconut oil to tantalize your taste buds with fresh, invigorating flavors. Using only ice water hash ensures an environmentally friendly, safe and pure product, dosed at 100 milligrams of THC for one large bite. Both the Pineapple Delight Bites and Blueberry Bites entered into HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup competitions this year were tasty and incredibly healthy, perfect for patients seeking to stay fit while medicating. This organic, vegan, gluten-free edible is crafted with dried fruits and nuts including walnuts, pineapple, mango, goji berries and coconut for a burst of nutrition! The 100 milligram THC content is described as fulfilling 2 – 4 doses, and I’d advise newbies to start with no more than one-quarter, or 25 mg, of this treat. However, competition lab testing revealed 108.9 mg of THC, a little more than you bargained for!
Bonus: Create your own healthy Lifted Lemon Ginger Tart!
Altai Sea Salt Caramel Bon Bons 25 mg Sativa
Indus Holding Co.
Newcomer Altai has arrived in the cannabis space with precisely dosed, hand painted chocolates guaranteed to delight California patients, earning a Third Place prize in the HIGH TIMES World Cannabis Cup. Reusable tin packaging is tastefully branded and lists the THC potency at 25 milligrams per bon bon with a total of 100 mg per package. The sativa effect is pronounced, making these treats appropriate for daytime use and providing an energetic, creative high. High-quality ingredients lend intense flavor to these chocolates, with barely any noticeable cannabis taste in the creamy, smooth caramel filling. Adding dosage advice such as “Eat no more than one-half of truffle to start. Wait 2 hours before consuming any more cannabis food,” would be helpful for the novice user, otherwise this is a fantastic product perfect for ganja gourmets.
Bubba Kush Root Beer 100 mg
Keef Cola Signature
Winner of the First Place Edibles Prize in Denver this year, this amazing product tastes just like regular root beer and instantly conjured ideas of combining it with some cannabis-infused ice cream to make a fantastical float! Intended for Colorado medical patients, this was the only product that nailed their lab test almost perfectly, with results indicating 101.95 milligrams of THC present. The one criticism shared by judges was the need for a resealable screw-top cap to save portions of the drink for later use, along with more concise dosage advice. An incremental strip down the side intended to help measure a 10 milligram dose of THC would also be appreciated.
Orange Creamsicle Creampop
Sacred Sweets with Trichome Heavy Extractions and DNA (collaborative effort)
This tasty orange creamsicle comes 'Charged with Carnelian Gemstones,’ a non-physical ingredient that I can certainly appreciate. Originality and proper dosage contributed to this Third Place win for Sacred Sweets, delighting owner Nick Coburn, a newcomer to the cannabis industry. While the labeling could use a design upgrade with clear dosage advice, the Creampop also nailed the competition lab testing, with label claims of 54.73 mg THC / 20.27mg CBD (for a total of 75 mg activated cannabinoids) being just about matched in reality with results of 51.95 mg THC and 17.5 mg CBD, only slightly less than promised.
Bonus: Sacred Sweets recipe for Hashew Hemp Brittle!
The First Place Winner at the Michigan Cannabis Cup, this product was universally favored by judges, and the lab test results revealed that it matched label claims of “150 mg THC + / – 25 mg” with Iron Labs revealing 126.42 milligrams of THC. Powered by Purple Chem Kief, the cinnamon toast crunch cereal bar was comforting and tasty, with crunchy, gooey textures and nice hash flavor.
Judges commented that the packaging was “professional and eye-catching,” with the only criticism being the need for more precise dosage advice. One quarter of this treat would be 31 to 37.5 milligrams of THC, and so the best advice would be to “eat no more than one-quarter of Kief Krispy and wait for 2 hours to see how it affects you.”
Bonus: Make Kief Krispy's Budder Balls at home!
Multiple HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup winner Captain Kirk also nailed his lab test, demonstrating his commitment to excellence in the industry. Focusing on healthy options, Kirk’s truffle was not only delicious, but also organic, gluten-free and refined sugar-free. Each truffle contained 60.15 mg of THC and 32.08 mg of THCa. Look for Captain Kirk’s products in provisioning centers at Ann Arbor Health Collective, the Green Door and Depot Town in Ypsilanti.
Bonus: Captain Kirk's recipe for Carrot Cake!
Deliciously savory, this bag of sweet and spicy glazed nuts contains 100 milligrams of THC, with one dose defined as 5 or 6 pecans, for 10 doses per bag. Judges raved about how each pecan (containing about 2 milligrams each) allowed patients to micro-dose throughout the day. According to the lab, each dose of 5 pecans contained 12.6 milligrams of THC, slightly more than the package label claims. These pecans are a great healthy choice with deep umami flavor, perfect for stashing in your desk drawer for occasional medicated snacking.
Bonus: Auntie Dolores shares her recipe for Ganja Glazed Nuts!
Mango Maui Wowie Fruit Leather
This all-natural fruit leather is vegan, gluten-free and infused with cannabis extract for a novel way to snack while getting significantly medicated. Made with organic fruits, the Mango Maui Wowie comes with “2 servings per pouch/50 mg THC per serving,” which is a high dose to recommend. Safer dosage advice for new users would be “This product contains 10 doses of 10 milligrams of THC. Start with one dose and wait two hours before consuming more.” There’s a distinct cannabis aftertaste with this product, and the sticky, chewy fruit can get stuck in your teeth, but it’s a fun, discreet and healthy way to medicate throughout the day.
Bonus: Try Fruit Slabs Grilled Peach Pot Salad!
Medicated Gummy Leaf
Marijuana & Munchies
This entry was a classic case of 'so close and yet so far.’ The pot leaf-shaped gummy is a huge step forward and could be the answer to many of the regulatory problems Colorado has been facing. Identifiable as a marijuana-infused food outside of its packaging, these gummies can help prevent accidental consumption. However, packaging and labeling needed work to be more concise and easily understandable. Listed as a “12 pack (+/- 125 mg of shatter)” but no THC dosage in milligrams was given, and that’s become the standard method for determining dosage. Our lab testing revealed 14.2 mg THC per gummy, which is a lot for a tiny gummy. Had a slight BHO aftertaste, but overall the little gummy pot leafs had an enjoyable flavor and texture. With a packaging overhaul, clear dosage advice and lab-tested results listed on the label, this product would be a serious contender.
Mellows Handcrafted Marshmallows
Judges were impressed by these low dose gourmet marshmallows, which arrived in a beautiful box suitable for gift giving. Flavors included brown butter sage, cookies + cream, orange dreamsicle, peanut butter pretzel, S'mores and strawberry shortcake, with each “Mellow” containing only 5 milligrams of THC. There’s 12 mellows per box for 60 milligrams of THC total. It’s nice to be able to sample several marshmallows without worrying that you’re going to get too high. Finally something for the lightweights in your life! Mellows taste amazing, and flavors are well conceived and nicely executed for a real treat that newbies can enjoy.
Clean Healing Pizza Sauce
It's great to see more savory options for even greater variety in medication options. Formerly known as Canapa, this sauce scored a second place win in the CBD Edibles category for their CBD-rich hemp oil pizza sauce at the So-Cal Cannabis Cup, and we're looking forward to more great products from this company in the future. Now called Clean Healing, this company is operated by a brother and sister who believe in the healing properties of cannabis. Currently, Clean Healing offers pizza sauce in three dosage levels: 500 milligrams of THC for those with a high tolerance, 150 mg for moderate users, and 60 mg for patients with a low tolerance.
Bonus: Make your own cannabis-infused pizza at home!