Judging edibles at the 2015 HIGH TIMES Michigan Cannabis Cup was like stepping into a time machine and returning to what the industry was like five years ago in California.
Many products on the market lack lab-tested THC potency levels and dosage advice, labels are rife with typos, and packaging is sometimes missing even basic information like ingredients, allergy warnings and company contact listings. A few entries were presented as complete mysteries, wrapped in little more than a plastic bag with no label. Patients seeking relief must guess at relative doses, and lack consistent access to trustworthy products.
The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act doesn’t mention edibles, leaving a large grey area in how edible cannabis products are treated under the law, which only states, “‘Usable marihuana’ means the dried leaves and flowers of the marihuana plant, and any mixture or preparation thereof, but does not include the seeds, stalks, and roots of the plant.”
Patients are allowed to have 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana, and it seems as if edibles made from plant matter are acceptable, but edibles made with extracts or oils are not.
Confusion over the legality of infused foods has created an environment where producers are unable to access lab testing, and the implied risk dissuades many from investing significantly in their businesses.
HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup competition lab testing revealed that many infused food items deliver significantly less THC than promised, with some items containing little to no activated THC. Products are made on a small scale in home kitchens with no oversight—which was the case until recently in other states like Colorado that now have mandated health inspections for cannabis edible companies.
Activists in Michigan are seeking to change this situation for the better with new legislation aimed at clarifying medical marijuana laws.
“Pending House Bill 4210 would clearly allow extracts, edibles and infused products,” attorney Matt Abel explained. “Currently, there’s nothing in the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act about edibles.”
While impending regulations can turn into significant hurdles for mom and pop businesses, it’s important to ensure that patients are getting the THC that they pay for in a safe and reliable edible format. Meeting the goals of consistency and predictability in edibles products will require most producers to step up their game.
In the meantime, check out the best cannabis-infused foods in Michigan, and support these growing businesses!
Kief Krispy from Budsuds with R.I. Finest with Kief Krispy
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.”
Captain Kirk's Truffle Tropicales from Captain Kirk Edibles of Ann Arbor Health Collective
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.
Got Milk? Cake Ball from Mind Right Detroit
Beautifully executed but poorly labeled, this incredible cake ball placed third based on its taste and presentation. Flavors of strawberry and peanut butter created a nostalgic experience of a PB&J sandwich coated in chocolate and infused with cannabis. The label claimed a THC potency of 70 milligrams, but competition lab testing found significantly less—with a lot of THCa left behind. With better branding, consistent lab testing and concise dosage advice, this product could compete on a national level.
Loco Coco Cannabis infused coconut oil from Loco Coco
This GMO-free organic extra virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil had the most complete packaging information of any entry. As a base ingredient, infused coconut oil is incredibly versatile and can be used in many recipes. Loco Coco uses an all-natural infusion process, eschewing solvents or alcohol. The label states that “soil grown pesticide free medicinal grade cannabis” is used, ensuring a more eco-friendly product. With 1,186.11 mg of THC per 4.20 oz jar, each tablespoon of this oil would contain about 141.2 milligrams of THC, which would be helpful information for patients to decide how much to include in a recipe.
Full Tilt Pink Panacea Hard Cider from Pure West Compassion Club with LightSky Farms
Judges enjoyed the taste of this hard cider and cannabis hybrid, but they also expressed concern about the effects of combining herb and alcohol for the uninitiated. Containing 6.5 percent alcohol and 35.5 milligrams of activated THC, drinking one of these ciders will pack quite a punch! Competition lab testing confirmed the THC levels matched the label claims exactly, as well as including 71 mg of CBD, making this a very relaxing cider that shouldn’t be too psychedelic.
Cherry Almond Sherbert Delights from Arborside Delights
This healthy option won a second place award with its CBD-rich version, but the THC version just barely missed the winner’s circle. Judges liked the originality of a parfait with infused cannabis granola, but it would definitely benefit from better label information and dosage advice. The label claimed “50 mg THC per 275 oz,” but competition lab testing revealed more than promised with an extra 10 milligrams of THC.
Errl’s Hunter Sausage from Medicated Acres
This very original product caused all judges to take notice. It’s nice to have a savory alternative to sweet infused desserts! This product needed lab-tested results listed on the package in order for patients to decide how much to consume, otherwise it could be easy to overdo it. Competition lab testing revealed 31.2 mg of THC and 27.3 mg of CBD, making this a very relaxing sausage appropriate for pain patients and those seeking a sleep aid.
Special FX Labs Milk Chocolate 180 mg from The Barn
This cannabis-infused chocolate had the most professional packaging, but it still lacked dosage advice instructing patients on how much to consume. The chocolate's 180 milligrams of THC is a large dose, with each section of the bar containing about 45 milligrams. Appropriate dosage advice would state, “Eat no more than one-quarter and wait 2 hours before consuming any more,” which is still four times the amount recommended by the state of Colorado, which defines a recreational dose as only 10 milligrams. Medical patients may require much more, but it’s important to consider how your product will appeal to a first-time user.
Chocolate Peanut Butter De-stress Ball from Medie Edie
These gluten-free, 50 mg chocolate cake balls were covered in peanut butter and sprinkles for a comforting flavor profile that was decadently delightful. Judges loved the great taste but were disappointed with the lab test results, which showed a high level of THCa along with the activated THC. With better labeling and consistent potency levels, this product would be a serious contender.
Candy Bacon from Pork & Mindy's Candied Maple Bacon
This supposedly 100 mg sugar-free maple bacon scored highly for originality, with judges enjoying the sweet and salty flavor pairing. However, the lab tests showed only 17.75 milligrams of THC, considerably less than promised. When Pork & Mindy’s can stabilize their production process, they’ll have a very marketable product.