Unraveling the Secrets of Cannabis Edibles with Garyn Angel
Oct 13, 2021 | Save On Cannabis
Edibles are still somewhat of a mystery even to many cannabis connoisseurs. Why are they so strong (and so expensive, for that matter)? How do you get the desired effect without drifting off into outer space? How do you know which products to buy and which products to avoid?
To demystify these popular cannabis consumables, we consulted an expert. Garyn Angel is the founder of Magical Brands, makers of the ultra-popular MagicalButter machine, the industry-leading solution for making delicious edible infusions at home.
Angel started Magical because he wanted to develop a solution for friends struggling with Crohn’s disease. There was no good way to make edibles at home, so his team developed tools that allow anyone to make consistent, high-quality edibles from their comfort of their own kitchen — no prior extraction experience necessary.
Over the course of our interview, Angel provided some truly eye-opening insights into the edibles world and other cannabis-related topics. We addressed issues like:
- How to choose the right type of edible product for your needs (hint: it’s probably not a brownie)
- How to find the optimal dosage for edibles without having a bad trip
- The shocking amount of money you can save by simply making your own edibles at home
- The reasons why edibles (even CBD edibles) are still regulated more tightly than other cannabis products
- The biggest red flag to watch out for when buying edibles in a dispensary
- The reason why it’s still so hard to find full-THC cannabis tinctures
If, like many consumers, you find yourself perplexed by cannabis edibles on some level, keep reading.
There Are Much Better Edibles Than Pot Brownies
Anecdotally, gummies appear to be the most popular cannabis edibles sold in dispensaries, although baked goods like brownies and cookies remain popular sellers as well.
But as Angel notes, consumers who focus only on these perennial favorites are missing out.
“Unfortunately a lot of edibles are brownie- and cookie-based, and if you have a real health need, it’s probably better for you to have a more wholesome food with your cannabinoids, because I believe cannabis is a dietary essential.”
Angel stresses that there are healthier alternatives to your standard edibles, and these alternatives are great for more than just getting your buzz on.
“I think salad dressings are the go-to because when you’re eating a plate of food, it’s important to know that it’s colorful. A real simple way to know if you’re having a healthy meal is usually just to look down at the plate and make sure it represents multiple groups. A nice salad is vibrant and colorful. And when you have infused salad dressing in your pantry or fridge, you’re much more likely to have that than a plate of chicken wings or french fries. Cannabinoids add a whole other spectrum of color to the dish.”
But the benefits of salad dressing aren’t just nutritional. There’s also the absorption factor. As Angel notes, you’re going to get more absorption with a lighter meal—like a salad. A steak will sit in your stomach for a while before it moves into the small intestine because the stomach acid has to break it down and neutralize it. The longer that the food sits in your gut, the more neutralized it becomes by stomach acid. So a lighter meal is going to wind up delivering more cannabinoids to your small intestine and ultimately your bloodstream.
For the time being, you’re not likely to find cannabis salad dressing at your local dispensary, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. You can easily make a cannabis salad dressing infusion using a tool like the MagicalButter machine (save $30 on a MagicalButter machine with our coupon code), or you can make it manually with the help of recipes found online. And if you don’t have the time for that, you can simply add a couple of drops of a THC tincture into your favorite salad dressing.
Contrary to Popular Belief, Edibles Don’t Have to Melt Your Face Off
Some curious consumers, especially medical marijuana patients, are hesitant to try edibles because these products are sometimes associated with extreme highs. Angel notes that there are two reasons for this unfortunate stereotype.
The first reason comes down to the molecule conversion, and specifically how edibles are metabolized differently from inhaled cannabis. When you inhale cannabis, you’re absorbing delta-9 THC as your main psychoactive compound. When you ingest cannabis (such as by consuming edibles), the THC is actually converted to 11-hydroxy-THC (11-OH-Δ9-THC). This THC metabolite is up to 5 times more potent than delta-9 THC.
The second reason for the stereotype is simply a matter of over-consumption.
“It’s based on milligrams that you consume,” Angel explains. “If you have seven glasses of Everclear, you’re going to be on the floor. You can have seven beers and probably still be fairly functional if it was stretched out over the course of a couple of football games. For whatever reason, people don’t follow the milligram content. With edibles, there is some irresponsible consumption, and that can lead to a bad experience. But I believe that edibles are the best experience when you have small milligram doses, you find out what your tolerance is, and you scale that up or down depending on the experience you desire.”
This raises an important question: How many milligrams should a novice user start with?
Angel recommends starting with 5 to 10 milligrams and using that as your initial benchmark. Then you can adjust up or down as needed. “We’ve noticed that the average consumer is anywhere between 10 to 20 mg. That’s a good amount for the average person.”
Edibles Are Expensive for Several Reasons, But There’s One Simple way to Save
Edibles aren’t cheap. On average, when shopping in a dispensary, you might expect to pay about 25 cents per milligram of THC. So a single 20-milligram dose would run you about $5 or more. For a complete brownie or other multi-dose edible, you might pay between $30 and $50 easily.
As Angel notes, there are a lot of reasons for the high price tag. Markup accounts for some of it, but there are more factors in play.
As Angel notes, edibles require a food-grade kitchen. And then there are the costs associated with the equipment, like gummy machines.
“You’re not only paying for the labor,” according to Angel, “but you’re also paying for their profit on top of that labor. The manual labor per gram is not that terrible. But when you start to put chefs into the process and the overhead for the kitchen, that’s where it starts to really hit home.”
There’s one easy to save, though: Make your own edibles at home. According to Angel, “To make them at home is not expensive. We’ve done different surveys with our customers, and it’s saved anywhere from $200 to $600 a month depending on how frequently the consumer enjoys the edible.”
Infusion machines make this process easy, but it’s also possible to make edibles in the oven with just cannabis and butter as your base ingredients.
There’s Another Commonly Overlooked Benefit to Making Edibles at Home
Cost is one major benefit to making edibles at home, but it’s not the only benefit. Homemade edibles also give you better potency opportunities. Consider that there are a lot of regulations in various states that prohibit higher-potency edibles.
For example, Florida lawmakers are pushing to limit cannabis products to no more than 16% THC. Washington, Montana, and Massachusetts are among the other states that have introduced bills to limit THC content. In New Jersey, edibles are completely prohibited. The problem with these restrictions is that some medicinal patients need higher concentrations to treat their respective conditions. But when you make your own edibles at home, you don’t have to worry about these limits.
Angel explains it this way. “If you’re a patient, and you need 30, 40, 50, or 60 milligrams [of THC], it’s not only cost-prohibitive, but you couldn’t get an edible to match your needs in most markets. So just having your own choice to put whatever you want in your body is the No. 1 key.”
The Role of Cannabis Edibles May Evolve Into Something More Social & Sophisticated
There are a lot of interesting cannabis trends on the horizon. Even now, cannabis is being put into everything from beverages to coffee to powders. Angel notes that the beverage market is especially taking off in a big way.
There was a time when cannabis drinks had little traction because they all tasted so bad. But since innovative manufacturers have started using nanoemulsion technologies, it’s now possible to create delicious beverages that taste nothing like cannabis. That’s a big reason for the recent growth of the beverage market, but it’s also why beverages (even CBD beverages) are still fighting an uphill battle on the legal front. Some legislators are concerned about the implications of having cannabis products that people can consume by accident. Still, the trend continues to gain steam.
But Angel notes that one of the biggest emerging trends in cannabis edibles has nothing to do with a particular product or delivery system. It’s about edibles as a social phenomenon.
“I think as open consumption becomes more permissible, you’re likely to continue to see a decline in alcohol consumption. And people like to gather. For us, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of our customers who do at-home dinner parties. And they create community at home. And I think that’s likely to spill out of the home kitchen and wind up in cafes.”
The main challenge (aside from legal restrictions) is that cannabis-infused meals come at a high cost. “What might normally be a $30 to $35 steak can quickly become a $60, $70, or $80 steak,” according to Angel. “And, for a lot of people, that starts to get out of the price range of a reasonable meal. But if people had gone to a bar and spent a night out having cocktails with their friends, they would likely wind up around the same price. I think the budget is there. It’s going to take some time to educate the consumer.”
There’s at Least One Type of Edible You Should Probably Avoid
When shopping for edibles in a dispensary, most consumers understand the basics of how to find quality products: Check the lab results (certificate of analysis), look for allergens, note the expiration date, and make sure you’re dealing with a trusted brand.
But Angel cites another red flag when buying edibles, one that a lot of consumers may never have even considered.
“I think that, in this industry, it’s all about compliance and making sure you understand what you’re getting in a finished product. Some of these edible companies go for the knockoff Cheetos brand and stuff like that. I would stay away from anything that looks like an existing product. Because I would say that those companies are generally not in compliance. And if you can’t be in compliance with your branding and your packaging, it makes me question whether or not you’re in compliance with your testing regulations and just your overall disclosures to the customer.”
Angel advises consumers to look for edible products that are clean, that have their own unique branding, and that have a solid following. Customers must exercise caution when purchasing edibles, which is another reason why making them at home is often a good idea.
There’s a Reason Why Cannabis Tinctures Are So Hard to Find
CBD oil tinctures are everywhere. In fact, these simple 30mL bottles with built-in droppers are the No. 1 delivery system for CBD, and for good reason: They’re incredibly simple to use. Just take one or two drops under the tongue for quick absorption and precise dosing. Often, the tinctures are even flavorless, so they can be mixed into foods and drinks.
But while hemp tinctures may be hot commodities, cannabis tinctures (those containing significant THC) have been slow to take off, even though they could be a game changer for medical marijuana patients and others who demand precise dosing or are turned off by products that look and smell like “weed.”
As Angel notes, the reason for the scarcity of THC tinctures once again comes down to cost.
“The dispensary makes more money turning it into a chocolate bar or a gummy or capsule. The tincture in itself is not going to yield the same ROI to the business. There are some decent tinctures out there on the market, but they’re not readily available at a lot of stores.”
Tinctures require a costly extraction process, and it takes a lot of cannabis plant material to yield a small amount of usable concentrate. That’s why it’s not uncommon to spend more than $60 (and often over $100) on a single one-month supply of CBD oil.
This model may work better in the CBD market because there are fewer delivery systems and because the target customer is especially resistant to anything that resembles cannabis. But in the THC world, consumers have a lot more choices. Why spend $100 on a THC tincture when you can spend $30 on a cookie with roughly the same milligram dosage?
It’s Up to Consumers to Change the Legal Landscape of Cannabis
Though much of the stigma has been lifted on edibles and other forms of cannabis, these products are still difficult to access in many parts of the country—even for qualifying patients. Currently, recreational cannabis is only permitted in 18 states and the District of Columbia. Fourteen states don’t even have medical marijuana programs. One of the biggest questions facing advocates is: How do we turn the tide and achieve more nationwide acceptance?
This issue has become somewhat of a passion project for Angel, who personally dedicates much of his time to effecting change on the legal front. From his perspective, anyone can be a part of the solution, and there are three steps involved.
“The first thing you can do,” according to Angel, “is decriminalize possession. I decriminalized cannabis in my city [Port Richey, Florida]. It took about 3 months to do, and it’s the smallest city in the United States to date to decriminalize cannabis. And so the first thing you can do is be active as an activist and start lobbying your city council to decriminalize cannabis.”
While this may seem like a small step, it can have major implications. If a person is caught with possession, it can destroy their career in many cases. Decriminalization is the first step to protecting people from having their lives uprooted over simple marijuana use.
The second thing that people can do, according to Angel, is educate the public. “People like stories, so if they hear from the veteran who’s suffering, that’s very compelling for them. If you just give them data, they tune out. So sharing success stories of patients who were lost and found their way using plant-derived compounds is a very effective way to effect change.”
The third thing people can do is to get the attention of important people: legislators, government representatives, decision-makers both local and national. Volunteer the time necessary to educate and assist the people in charge of shaping policy. Change won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.
If You Haven’t Tried Edibles, You May Be Missing Out
As we wrapped our interview, Angel shared one final message for consumers who may be on the fence about trying cannabis edibles.
“People shouldn’t be afraid to try edibles,” according to Angel. “It scares some people. For many people, it’s one of the solutions to some of the ailments that they’re facing. So don’t be afraid of edibles. Go slow. Enjoy it. Find out where you’re comfortable, and then stay in that realm. You don’t have to continually raise the bar.”
When you find the right edible products, the right dosage, and the right routine to get the desired effect, you may discover that edibles can be downright life-changing. And if you’ve been inhaling cannabis up to this point, your lungs will definitely thank you.
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