When judging the edibles category at the HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup, we’ve always rated the entries on taste, appearance, potency, originality and healthiness, along with points for including certain label information and meeting professional packaging standards.
As the industry has matured, the offerings on display have progressed from basic bites like Rice Krispie treats and cookies to more sophisticated drinks, sauces, gourmet truffles and candies—with healthy, savory options becoming the fastest growing niche in the business. More newcomers to the marijuana scene, including increasing numbers of women, are seeking cannabis-infused foods that fit into health-conscious lifestyles.
During the “Healthy Living with Cannabis Foods” panel discussion at the 2015 NorCal Medical Cannabis Cup, industry leaders explained why they designed products to appeal to vegans, raw foodies and gluten-free patients and how they’ve witnessed the demand for these items growing monthly.
Joseph Winke from Jambo Superfoods has expanded his product line to include superfood truffles along with infused grass-fed ghee and MCT oil meant to be combined with coffee—much like the popular Bulletproof System but with the addition of baking to the waking!
Alison Ettel from Treat Well offers vegan, gluten-free Sriracha cannabis kale chips and blueberry granola, while Angela Evans from Lifted Edibles uses cold-water hash, dried fruits and nuts to create delectable raw vegan treats. Over at California powerhouse Auntie Dolores, Julianna Carella was one of the first edibles-makers to offer sugar-free, gluten-free and vegan options, including her bestselling savory pretzels and glazed pecans.
Cannabis is a superfood in its own right, conferring superb health benefits along with the power to relax and rejuvenate.
When using cannabis as medicine, especially for patients fighting cancer, it’s important to remember that sugar feeds cancerous growth and that a healthy diet is a huge part of preventing and treating many adverse health conditions. Items that eschew refined sweeteners and processed ingredients in favor of combining cannabis with other nutrient-dense whole foods, additional herbs and supplements create functional edibles designed to promote specific effects like “energy boost” or “super sleep.”
In this sense, we can consider cannabis as another tool in our arsenal along with blue-green algae, maca, yacon, ginseng, cacao, matcha and other health-positive superfoods that help us reach our full, vibrant, active potential.
As always, look for cannabis-infused products that are appropriate for your level of experience and dosage tolerance. If you are new to trying cannabis foods, start with a very small piece, containing no more than 10 to 15 milligrams of THC and wait at least two hours before eating any other cannabis infused foods. My favorite selections from the latest Cannabis Cup contest are delicious, beautiful, inventive and potent as well as healthy!
Top 11 Edibles from the 2015 HIGH TIMES NorCal Medical Cannabis CUp
Dark Chocolate Macaroons by Utopia Meds
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 eight small bite-size treats, each containing about 25 milligrams of THC and 200 mg per package. Having more small pieces rather than one giant macaroon is much appreciated, since the smaller bites help patients dose themselves incrementally.
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 or two macaroons. My only criticism would be to add more complete dosage instructions to the package, such as “Eat one macaroon and wait two hours,” rather than referring customers to the website for more information.
Pineapple Delight Bites by Lifted Edibles
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. I’d recommend breaking each truffle into four pieces, starting with a dose of 25 mg or less. The only change I’d make would be to add more specific dosage advice, such as “Eat one quarter and wait two hours,” just so new users don’t overdo it!
Bonus: Make your own Lifted raw fruit tart!
Sweet and 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 products 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. The packaging is very tasteful, but it would benefit from the addition of dosage advice, such as “Consume 6 to 10 nuts and wait two hours for full effects to be felt.”
Bonus: Make your own ganja glazed nuts!
Kombucha is a “living tea” created by allowing a kombucha culture to ferment brewed tea. Enthusiasts claim that the probiotic drink aids digestion, combats arthritis and prevents cancer, and it has a rich history of use in China, Russia and Germany. The Kannabucha created by Tahoe Herbal Co. is fizzy and great tasting—the delicate flavor of jasmine tea blended with a full cannabis extract for maximum healing benefits. It’s an interesting and novel way to integrate cannabis into a healthy lifestyle!
Containing about 32 milligrams of THC per bottle, each drink could be consumed as one to three doses depending on individual tolerance. The way the test results are displayed is slightly confusing, since they are reported per milliliter of beverage, so it would help to clarify the verbiage and add dosage advice such as: “Drink half of the bottle, wait two hours” or “This drink contains 3 doses of 10 mg each. Drink one-third and wait two hours.”
Cannbucha – Cannabis Living Tea
Another infused kombucha, this Cannbucha came in two flavors, Ginger Peach and Cherry Chai. Mixed with fruit juice, this kombucha had more pronounced flavors, as well as a stronger dose of 75 milligrams of THC per bottle. While the bottle label does give dosage advice, recommending patients to “Drink 1/2 bottle. Wait 20 minutes. Drink responsibly.” With such a high amount of THC, it would be better to offer advice to consumers assuming they are brand new to trying pot foods. Say something like: “This drink contains 7.5 doses of THC at 10 mg each, wait two hours after consuming 1 or 2 doses to feel full effects.”
Munch More Collective
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.
Amazingly, this medicated honey doesn’t taste like cannabis at all, yet it packs about 30 milligrams of THC into one tablespoon, making this an easy-to-dose option—perfect for adding to your daily tea, drizzling over oatmeal or adding to desserts. Making a medicated baklava with this honey would be divine! The label offers good dosage advice, including “Wait at least one hour before increasing dosage.” An excellent option for moms, grandmas and anyone else seeking the relief that cannabis provides.
Butter Popcorn Sunflower Seeds
ABGTE Presents Medizen Inc.
Medicated sunflower seeds are a tasty option that fits easily into a regular diet, simply add to salads or hot cereal, or just munch on them as a quick snack! While the packaging states 100 milligrams of THC per bag, the dosage advice states “The effect of each medical marijuana dose may vary depending on each patient’s condition,” which is true, but it’s still better to offer patients a specific dose to start with, such as “Each bag contains 10 doses of 10 mg THC each. Start low and go slow, waiting two hours after consuming one or two doses.”
These chocolate covered blueberries arrive in a nicely designed package containing helpful information and appropriate dosage advice. Twenty-two blueberries containing 5 milligrams of THC each adds up to 120 milligrams per tin for an easy-to-dose treat appropriate for new cannabis users or those with low tolerances for edibles. The dosage advice offered is better than most competitors: “Start with one bite and wait two hours / THC tolerances vary.”
This skillfully made confection isn’t really a healthy option, but it’s deliciously decadent nonetheless. A nicely presented duo of two ice cream sandwiches, with each containing 25 mg of THC for a low-dose treat that you can consume completely! This rich, sweet treat is composed of two French-style macarons sandwiching delicious ice cream. The dosage advice given is very good, recommending that patients “Consume 1 ice cream sandwich and wait 30 minutes to feel full effect of medicine.” The packaging could use more obvious cannabis warnings to prevent accidental ingestion, but overall this is a superior product worthy of your belly!
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.