Greetings from Denver in mid-April, one of the few times and places on Earth where you can suffer a searing sunburn and stinging frostbite on the same day.
Fortunately, as the weather leading up to this year's triumphant annual cannabis holiday has oscillated between hot-and-sunny, freezing rain, driving sleet, and dumping snow, your faithful Weed Eater has kept the ravages of the elements at bay (at least psychologically) via a steady (but measured) intake of the state's tastiest marijuana-infused edibles. And so, while the sweet smell of victory lingers in the air over this fair city via the literally millions of joints, bowls, blunts, bongs, and dabs blazed up this week, yours truly has kept his nose to the ground, and forsworn the ubiquitous smoke (somewhat) in favor of discovering the most satisfying pot-infused food available in America's mecca of legal weed.
But before offering up tasting notes from this admittedly informal investigation of the Mile High City's booming edible marijuana industry, let's pause first for a brief note of caution. Because while even the President of the United States has apparently decided to acknowledge this year's 4/20 festivities with his most positive comments to date about legalizing it, and the latest national poll shows Americans are increasingly on board with ending pot prohibition, the one sticking point in this whole social experiment seems to be that not everyone knows how to handle their edibles.
That's why, last week, in anticipation of the emerging national holiday of 4/20, we discussed the need to "slow your roll," as it were, when eating the herb instead of inhaling it, so as not to go overboard on an ingestion method that's potentially far more potent than smoking. (Remember, while there's no such thing as a fatal cannabis overdose, marijuana edibles aren't exactly safe—though in many ways they are safer than booze, pills and refined sugar.)
Fortunately, edibles sold to recreational users in Colorado come in clearly labeled, childproof packaging, with each pot-infused treat broken down into ten-milligram servings—the state's recommended dose of THC. But still, that's apparently not enough to keep some people from overindulging, so those who continue to hate on Mary Jane have seized on a handful of unfortunate incidents over the last year to push for ever tighter restrictions on edibles, a campaign some local manufacturers decry as a stealth attempt to regulate the industry out of business.
Which means we must continue educating the public and lawmakers about the many benefits of marijuana edibles, including how to use them properly, to ensure they remain available in Colorado and every other state that legalizes it. Consumers can help by supporting manufacturers who make high-quality products and market them responsibly.
So with that in mind, here's a "high five" of the Weed Eater's favorite Colorado edibles based on a fairly random sampling of the state's legal wares.
Julie's Baked Goods: Fresh Granola Commercially licensed edibles maker Julie Dooley recently invited the Weed Eater to take a private tour of her state-licensed manufacturing facility, and see how her company's various marijuana-infused packaged-goods are made to exacting standards in a commercial kitchen. All of Julie's Baked Goods are gluten-free, refined sugar-free, non-GMO baked marijuana edibles, including strain-specific infused granolas, seed mixes, coconut oil, and more—a product line that provides an unfortunately rare healthy option for those seeking to eat marijuana edibles without also ingesting large amounts of a nasty, addictive drug called refined sugar.
Now nationally known for her starring role on the MSNBC "documentary" The Pot Barons of Colorado, Dooley first got involved with medical marijuana after being diagnosed with celiac disease and discovering that cannabis-infused edibles provided superior symptom relief when compared to any kind of pharmaceuticals, without the adverse side effects. She says that while many consumers still associate edibles with "pot brownies" and other decadent desserts, her company has tapped into a large, growing,n and extremely loyal market niche for products that are a little more, well, granola than a ganja-infused gummy bear.
The Weed Eater has personally sampled nearly everything from Julie's Baked Goods, including the savory, satisfying roasted seed mix, but keeps coming back to the classic fresh granola, made from "gluten-free rolled oats, tossed with a variety of naturally sweet dried fruits, savory seeds, and nuts." The mix is then infused with clarified cannabutter and finished with maple syrup and kosher salt.
Served in a bowl with some nice hemp milk, there's no better way to eat your Weedies for breakfast!
Sweet Grass Kitchen: Brownie Bites Sweet Grass Kitchen is a "small batch bakery" in Denver that's been producing fresh-baked cannabis edibles since 2009. To guarantee total quality control throughout their product line, Sweet Grass relies on an in-house cultivation team to grow all of the marijuana that will later get infused into their offerings via a house-made "slow-simmered, triple-strained, full-flower cannabutter."
Company owner Julie Berliner started out simply making edibles from marijuana sourced from the state's legal cultivators, but moved into growing her own to "ensure a consistent and reliable crop-to-table delivery" of the not-exactly-secret ingredient in her cookies, brownies, and one-serving pies. While many of her competitors use cannabis extracts that can add a slightly funky taste to the end product, Berliner keeps it old-school by infusing unprocessed plant matter into her butter, yielding a consistently delicious taste that's subtle and not at all grassy.
Her brownie bites offer three servings of ten milligrams of THC each, a total potency that lines up nicely with the Weed Eater's own preferred dosage. And they taste just as fresh, chocolatey, and delicious as anything you'd find at a quality bakery without its own marijuana grow. The only real drawback is how hard you'll have to fight the urge to go back for seconds!
Mary's Medicinals: CBN Capsules Ironically, the most exciting and innovative product now on the Colorado market will probably put you to sleep. But that's by design, because these new cannabinol (CBN) capsules from Mary's Medicinals each contain five milligrams of CBN, an oxidation product of THC that's only about 10 percent as psychoactive as its antecedent, with a strongly sedative effect. If you've ever smoked weed that made you really lethargic, a high CBN profile could be the reason—which is great if you're an insomniac (and terrible if you're at a concert). Most times CBN forms when you let your pot get old, expose it to the air for prolonged periods (instead of storing it in a jar), or cook your edibles too long or at too high a temperature, but it's never before been available to consumers in isolated form.
Best known for developing and distributing a transdermal cannabis patch, Mary's Medicinals "innovates at the intersection of technology and horticulture," by crafting "accurately dosed, cleanly and discreetly delivered nutraceutical products utilizing the powerful healing properties of cannabinoids." With Americans spending more than $33 billion per year on sleep aids of one kind or another, including many pills with serious side effects and addictive properties, having the option of an all-natural, nontoxic capsule opens up a new market niche for the marijuana industry, while providing consumers with a relatively high-less way to seek the herb's healing properties.
Betty's Eddies: Fruit Chews The Weed Eater got gifted a package of these all-natural, organic fruit chews from a Denver-based friend, and immediately fell in love. Certainly gooey, sugary confections have their place, as do blandly presented "nutraceuticals." But something small, delicious, discreet, and quickly absorbed—like these downright artisanal fruit chews—actually provides a best-of-both-worlds option for those who want the grown-up benefits of therapeutic cannabinoids without surrendering all the fun of getting high off weed.
My only complaint with Betty's Eddies at this point is that besides a Boulder, Colorado, phone line that didn't get answered on 4/20 weekend (go figure), their official website offers almost no information about the company or their products. Though word on the street is that this new product has a bright future in Colorado, and will soon go from a "soft launch" into wide distribution.
Bhang Medicinal Chocolate: 50/50 THC & CBD Caramel Dark Chocolate Bar Founded in California in 2010 by master chocolatier Scott Van Rixel, Bhang Medicinal Chocolate has grown into one of the nation's leading cannabis edibles producers, including a separate Colorado-based division of the company that now supplies the Rocky Mountain state with premium, organic, fairly traded chocolate bars (made with Venezuelan criollo cocoa) that are expertly blended with precisely dosed cannabis infusions and sold in packaging that's ready for the shelves at Whole Foods.
The Weed Eater has enjoyed many Bhang products over the years, but most heartily recommends the 50/50 THC & CBD Caramel Dark Chocolate bar. For starters, you get the deep, rich, almost bitter taste of real dark chocolate, plus an enticingly sweet lacing of caramel; but the really essential ingredients in the mix are the marijuana plant's two most important cannabinoids.
At this point, let's assume everyone's down with THC, but lately non-psychoactive CBD has also been in high demand for its profound medicinal properties. Best known for controlling seizures in previously severely epileptic children, CBD has been used to treat pain, insomnia, nausea, anxiety, spasticity, MS, Alzheimer's, cancer, and a host of other serious conditions. It's also cherished by seasoned heads for its ability to "tamper" the soaring high of THC. The bar offers the two in equal measure, providing the wonderful effects of eating THC, while the CBD significantly mitigates the anxiety and discomfort that sometimes accompanies edibles in high doses.
Prior to legalization, high-CBD cannabis products were almost impossible to find, so the market is still growing for treats high in this essential cannabinoid, but The Weed Eater believes that in ten years they will likely dominate the market. And really, what better way to see if CBD is right for you than via a magically delicious chocolate bar?