Ten Popular Weed Products That Could Soon Be Illegal Under Proposed Regulations
VCC Brands has already begun reformulating their Cannabis Quencher product to meet the new proposed regulations. Here's what the new version will look like when it hits dispensaries next month. (Photo courtesy of VCC Brands)
By Amanda Chicago Lewis
Well, friends, it was fun while it lasted. For the past two decades, we’ve been able to walk into medical marijuana dispensaries and choose from a veritable cornucopia of pot-infused delights: weed teas, weed chocolates, weed tinctures, weed ice cream, weed soda, weed everything. Now, however, the state is stepping into the marijuana game with some very serious rules, and by 2019, the freewheeling California cannabis bonanza will be over, forever.
On Friday, April 28, and again on Friday, May 5, the Department of Public Health and the newly established Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation (BMCR) released a set of proposed regulations covering every aspect of the medical marijuana supply chain, from how much growers need to pay in licensing fees to what, exactly, can be sold to patients. The public now has a little over a month to send in comments or complaints before things become final.
This process isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A lot of pot products are sketchy AF, with hand-written labels or branding that blatantly rips off Cheetos, or some other mainstream snack. Just a few months ago NBC LA made the horrifying discovery that over 90% of the products they tested contained toxic amounts of pesticide. And there are always those candies that aren’t accurately labeled and don’t get you high at all, or else get you wayyyyy too high. But these days, a lot of stuff that you see on the shelves at dispensaries is sleek and professional, with consistent, accurate dosing. Sadly, if the state’s proposed medical marijuana regulations go through as planned, some of our favorite things might need to go.
Here, then, is a round-up of products that will likely not be allowed, if the proposed rules become final. And NB: if any of this makes you upset, the state is accepting public comment via e-mail, snail mail, fax, and a public hearing in LA on June 8th.
(Photo courtesy of Kiva Confections via Facebook)
KIVA'S TERRA BITES: ESPRESSO BEANS
Over the past few years, Kiva has accomplished something somewhat brilliant: they’ve become a nationally recognized marijuana brand, even though pot is still federally illegal, and many of the people who consume their edibles have never heard of the company itself. Removed from their packaging and thrown into an innocent plastic bag, most edibles look like regular food to TSA, so the best products have a tendency of worming their way around the country. According to the New York Post, it’s now common for socialite moms in New York City to say to each other, “Is this a one- or two-coffee-bean snow day?”
They’re talking, of course, about Kiva’s dark chocolate-covered espresso bean Terra Bites. These perfectly dosed 5-milligram edibles, which also come as milk chocolate-covered blueberries, are ideal for newbies and potheads alike. Being able to expect the same high each time is key, as is being able to adjust your own dosage by the relatively low amount of 5 milligrams at a time.
Now, however, the state is proposing that marijuana products cannot include caffeine. That potentially means no more espresso beans. When I figured this out earlier this week, it cut me to the quick. So long, delicious friends! I will always remember our times together dearly. Frolicking at a pool party. Wandering the canyons at golden hour. Helping me tune out the screams from that elementary school field trip I once got stuck on a flight with. I may even stock up like a crazy person if these things actually become illegal.
Kiva co-founder Kristi Knoblich told me over the phone that she’s hoping the fact that the caffeine is a naturally occurring part of espresso beans, and hasn’t been separately added, will save them from the arm of the law, but she hasn’t gotten final clarification on that from the state.
Lord Jones Dark Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Caramels. (Photo courtesy of Lord Jones)
LORD JONES’ 20 MILLIGRAM GUMDROPS AND DARK CHOCOLATE COVERED SALTED CARAMELS
The most controversial proposed rules involve the limitations on dosage. Namely, products cannot contain more than 10 milligrams per serving, and each serving needs to be separated out in its own child-resistant packaging. So wave goodbye to any individual chocolate or mint or cookie or ANYTHING that contains more than 10 milligrams. Which is to say: wave goodbye to almost every edible in your dispensary.
Lord Jones is simply one of the best examples of why this rule makes no sense. This is a high-end edibles company with rigorous standards, accurate dosing, and delicious products. They’re so good, they’ve recently gotten shoutouts from Jessica Seinfeld, Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP, and from “Call Your Girlfriend” tastemaker Aminatou Sow. Their gumdrops and caramels come in 5 and 10 milligram varieties, but for some people, the 20 milligram one is needed to do the trick. But if the state has its way, these will no longer be available.
I see where the state was going with this: edible dosages are a complicated beast of a public education problem, compounded by the Maureen Dowds of the world, who eat an entire chocolate bar when the budtender advised only a single piece. And look: there is truly no worse feeling than eating too much weed. While on too-strong edibles, I personally have shattered a glass patio door at a hotel in Mexico, and woken up at Coachella with my face directly in front of my car’s exhaust pipe.
But this separately-packaged 10 milligram rule is basically the equivalent of telling tequila makers they have to sell their liquor in two-shot-sized packaging, because adult humans might accidentally pound an entire bottle of Jose Cuervo. (I’m not going to get into the stories about what I’ve done after having too much tequila.)
Let’s not even get started on the ridiculous landfill pile-up caused by this packaging requirement. Let’s just focus on how many good companies are producing high-dose products. And remember, once these rules go into effect, dosage labeling will finally be accurate, every single time. So why can’t we be trusted to make dosage decisions for ourselves?
(Courtesy of Aunt Zelda)
AUNT ZELDA’S INFUSED OLIVE OIL
The second absurd dosage requirement that the state put in its proposed regulations states that a single package of cannabis product cannot contain more than 100 milligrams of THC, total.
Okay, you might be saying. So you need 25 milligrams to relieve your period cramps, but a lot of people only need 5 or 10 milligrams. Why can’t you just eat three or four pieces of chocolate, instead of one? Why do you need to have tins of 20-milligram Breez mints that contain a total of 1000 milligrams?
And I’m going to come back swinging. With cancer patients on my side.
In the past few years, Aunt Zelda’s founder Mara Gordon has worked with over a thousand seriously ill patients, most of whom are dealing with cancer. A process engineer with round glasses and a mop of curly hair, Gordon designed a system that could track how medical history and condition related to dosing and outcome on a large scale. She’s now a leading expert in how to best treat actual diseases in humans with cannabis.
“300 milligrams a day is not an unusual dose for somebody battling stage 3 or 4 cancer,” she told me. “Now, they would have to open 30 separate packages a day to take their medicine.”
Gordon’s infused olive oil is carefully dosed and designed to be absorbed under the tongue — the fastest way to get cannabis into your system. It comes two ways: a 60mL bottle that contains 10 milligrams per milliliter (600 milligrams total), and a 60mL bottle that contains 50 milligrams per milliliter (3000 milligrams total).
Both would be illegal under these proposed regulations. Even if Gordon did repackage her product such that it only came in 10 milligram servings, many sick people would need to consume several teaspoons worth of olive oil a day to get through their pain.
“That’s way too much olive oil for anybody to have to take. When someone’s already sick, the last thing they want is a large volume of medicine,” Gordon says. “It’s obvious the regulations were written by somebody who has no understanding of the actual medical uses of cannabis.”
(Photo courtesy of Greenway Santa Cruz)
KNOW LABEL WEED-INFUSED WINE
Sorry, Melissa Etheridge. The rocker got on the celebrity weed endorsement train early with her Know Label cannabis wine, but the regulations prohibit all weed-infused alcohol.
To be honest, I was never totally behind this idea —why not just drink some great Pinot Noir while smoking a joint? Why must we mash-up and portmanteau everything good in the world until it’s one big shepherd’s pie?
But you know, not gonna hate on the woman who wrote “Come to My Window.” That was my 7th grade jam, for sure.
(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
PRE-ROLLED SPLIFFS OR BLUNTS
Okay, so pre-rolled blunts are not really a thing—mostly because they go stale rather quickly. But some of us out here who love blunts but lack the manual dexterity to roll our own (ahem, me), have always held out hope that someone would develop a good one. Alas, this is not to be. The proposed regulations prohibit the sale of marijuana products mixed with nicotine.
MONK DRINKING BOTANICALS
The first time I saw a Monk beverage in a dispensary fridge, I did a double take. The weed world had officially become bougie. This stuff looks and sounds like one of those fancy house-made sodas at Bäco Mercat, or like something you’d drink on a cleanse. They use ingredients like turmeric, cayenne, cinnamon bark and, I kid you not, something called “apple shrub”. (Seriously, what in the world is that? The little brown stem on the top of an apple??)
Monk even has the dosing right, according to the proposed rules: each bottle is only 5 milligrams of THC. (But again I would rather drink one with 20mg in it.) Unfortunately, they also claim their products are “100% plant based,” and the proposed regulations are pretty strict on the use of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Some juice brands have already started figuring out how to work around the regulations, though. Kenny Morrison of VCC Brands, which includes the popular Cannabis Quencher product, told me he’s spent the past few weeks sampling new versions of his signature flavors.
“The juice content is too high as it stands,” Morrison says. “I’m reformulating my products as we speak, and I’m going to be unveiling the new formulas within the next 30 days.”
I swear I used to date a guy who, after getting his medical recommendation for pot, went to over a hundred dispensaries picking up new-patient freebies. God bless you for doing that, Zach, and for passing on the information about which were the best places. But that was then. Soon, you will no longer be able to hop from spot to spot to pick up giveaways. Almost sadder: brands will no longer set up those tables at shops to give out samples so you can try new products.
Farewell, little snacks! I can think of several products I never would have become a fan of if I hadn’t received an initial sample for free. Looking at you, Dr. Norm’s chocolate chip cookies. Maybe next time not so much with the creepy 1950s guy on your packaging. Really put me off for a minute, there.
(Photo courtesy of Ganjalato)
As a lactose-challenged individual, I can’t say I’ve actually tried this weed-infused ice cream. But! They did win first place in the edibles category at a cannabis festival two summers ago, so it’s gotta taste at least a little good, right?
Too bad the proposed regulations don’t allow for any products that involve dairy. While we’re at it, we might as well also bid adieu to Stoned Oven’s pot pizza, Cold Stoned ice cream, and Beezle’s creamery.
So, certainly not every proposed regulation is a bad idea. One that I’m particularly fond of is the stipulation that manufacturers can’t buy existing snacks and then add weed to them. Most of the people who do this buy in bulk and then spray everything with butane hash oil, leaving the products unevenly dosed and frankly kinda gross.
Oh wait, did you think those sour watermelons you were buying just HAPPENED to look exactly like the ones sold by the Sour Patch Kids company? Or that some marijuana candy genius had recreated Trolli peach rings in a back room somewhere?
(Photo by Dank Depot via the Flickr Creative Commons).
WEED THAT YOU YOURSELF HAVE SMELLED
Hear me out on this: smelling the weed you’re about to buy is an essential part of the experience. You open the jar, you check out how dense the white THC-filled hairs are, and then you take a big, serious whiff. Weed snobs will go on and on about the organic compounds that create this smell, known as terpenes, terpenoids, and flavonoids, but I’ve found it’s actually pretty simple: the stuff that smells good to you usually ends up feeling good when you put it in the air. The stuff that smells unappetizing to you is probably best left for someone else to roll up.
Hey, to each her own.
Tragically, the new regulations will prohibit people from smelling or opening up the weed they are about to buy. For some reason you’ll be allowed to look at and smell some “display” pot — but not the stuff you are actually looking to purchase. Just saying: I do not at all trust dispensary owners to put the exact same strain in the display jar that they are selling me. I just don’t! So yeah, I am really bummed about this rule.
Amanda Chicago Lewis is an LA-based reporter covering cannabis for Rolling Stone, Vice, and other publications.