Munchies are a well-known effect of a marijuana high, but consuming food can often induce the same result. For medical marijuana patients looking to get their daily dosage without having to smoke, medicated edible products — or "medibles" — are a popular solution.
Bill Prince, co-founder of Discreet Treats in Colorado Springs, says he joined the medibles business because he realized that under the newly passed House Bill 1284, many small dispensaries would not be able to afford the commercial kitchen required for making the infused products.
"Because there are a lot of dispensaries that can't make the medibles now, I thought I could make them and sell them," he says. "I had no plans to do this; I just fell into it. I went and got a commercial kitchen, and now have a business with tremendous opportunities for growth."
Discreet Treats makes all of its candies, dips and pretzels on-site and delivers them fresh to the centers. Prince says the medibles can be custom-ordered, and his partner chef can create any food the client might want.
"Nothing is set in stone," he says. "We are trying to help the people get their medicine in other ways instead of having to smoke. A lot of people would prefer to eat something delicious."
Each "medible" is made with different strains of cannabis that produce different effects and are beneficial to specific illnesses. According to the Vancouver Island Compassion Society (VICS), sativa primarily affects the mind and emotions, and is more uplifting, energizing and can help with the psychological component of many illnesses. The effects of indica are more physical and tend to relax patients, but it can also reduce stress, anxiety and pain.
Prince says he is able to try the edibles before they are medicated.
"There is no difference in the taste from before to after we add the marijuana," he says. "Our peanut butter cups are better than a Reese's. If you eat it, we'll make it."
Patients with doctor's recommendations need the guidance of caregivers at marijuana dispensaries. It would be unwise to walk into a store and randomly choose from the variety of edibles available: from oral sprays, pills and tinctures, to ice cream, pastries and granola bars, to peanut butter, tea and honey, each with their own strain and dosage. The medical efficiency is directly related to strain selection.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the active substances in cannabis, is soluble in oils or fats as well as alcohol. Gracy Midencey, owner of the delivery-only bakery Happy Farms, says MMJ bakers should not cook at temperatures higher than 325 degrees Fahrenheit, or they risk the THC breaking down. Usually, infusing the marijuana into the oil or the batter for products is the easiest way to make edibles, she says.
For Prince, keeping high professional standards in his kitchen is a must.
"Everything is under control as far as the portion," he says. "One ounce, a half-ounce, we know how much exactly is in each. We're going to have labels that resemble pharmaceutical ones with all of the ingredients, and it'll say, for example on a candy, 'One ounce with one tenth-gram hash.'"
While the effects of smoking marijuana are usually felt within the first 10 minutes, and the effects may last from 30 minutes to three hours, the effects of ingested marijuana are felt between 15 minutes to two hours, and can last two to eight hours.
The leaves of the plant, or "shake," is preferable over using the flower, or "bud," for baking since it is less costly and its potency is increased by this mode of ingestion. The shake may also be used to make tinctures or teas.
Prince says that all of his marijuana arrives processed, so it is immediately put into the oil and then made into the chocolates or other savory treats. He plans on making trail mix with dried fruit and chocolate-covered granola, and investing in a flash-freezing machine so that he can make entire meals for people.