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Cannabis Powder: What It Means For The Future Of Edibles

Cannabis edibles have just gotten super serious. Cannabis powder is a development you do not want to miss; it definitely came to change the industry for the better.

Ever since humans discovered cannabis, infused drinks and eats have been abundant. In a 2014 sample from Los Angeles dispensaries, up to 26% of medical cannabis consumers resorted to edible products instead of smokables. This is a method that is gaining traction, especially among medicinal consumers. As such, edibles have become a major part of the legal cannabis industry. But there are still problems that need to be addressed for this consumption method to be the best (and most ethical) it can be.

CURRENT EDIBLES

Up until recently, edibles have been made using oil-based tinctures, extracts, or classic cannabutter. Oil is not soluble in water and therefore is very hard to mix. The process is very time consuming and quite unreliable. Oil-based tinctures are often quite inconsistent, both in physical consistency and cannabinoid concentration.

When companies manufacture edibles, they do so in huge batches. What this means is that an infused chocolate bar is not made individually. Companies infuse litres of liquid chocolate with cannabis, and then cool this mixture down into hundreds, if not thousands, of different chocolate bars. Using current methods, these edibles will sustain a huge margin of error when it comes to cannabinoid dosage.

There is no way of knowing if you’re really taking in the milligrams you think you are. And more importantly, not even one chocolate bar will be dosed evenly. If you eat one chocolate square, it does not mean you’ll be consuming the same fraction of the desired cannabinoid.

Recent research tested over 70 products from almost 50 different brands and the results are worrying. The researchers found that only 17% of products were accurately labelled. This is extremely low for something that’s used as a medicine by a lot of people. Out of the inaccurate 83%, 60% of products were reported as having lower cannabinoid percentages than the packaging claimed. This is extremely unethical and very worrying for the credibility of the industry. Hopefully, recent developments have come to change that.

HOW CANNABIS POWDER CAME TO CHANGE THINGS

We’ve started to see powdered cannabis cropping up in dispensaries along America’s West Coast. Companies like Oleo, Made By Science, and THC Design have released products that may just revolutionise the way we consume cannabis.

Although cannabis powder is nothing new, this form certainly is. This isn’t simply cannabis flower ground up to an extremely fine texture; this is cannabinoid oil that is encapsulated in starch or another carbohydrate. This makes it so that cannabinoid droplets behave like sugar and not oil. Sugar is very easily dissolvable in water. The resulting mixture will then have a homogeneous cannabinoid distribution.

Part of what makes conventional edibles a bit of an overdosing trap is the fact that it takes up to two hours to hit. Because of this, a lot of consumers lose hope that they’ve taken enough and end up ingesting more than they should. Too much cannabis catalyses uncomfortable experiences that, although not deadly, can be very scary for the inexperienced consumer. With this powdered solution, it will only take between 15-20 minutes for the effects to be noticeable. This gives the consumer a rapid solution to a problem. Being a medical patient and having to wait two hours for your medicine to have an effect can be very irritating. That’s why a lot of medical users still resort to joints and bowls.

WHAT THE FUTURE HAS TO BRING

Powdered cannabis is still in its infancy. A lot of research and innovation is needed to ensure the even cannabinoid distribution and purity of edibles. However, this form of cannabis makes it much easier to make edibles industrially and at home. This is the type of product that will most likely be sold on a large scale to edible manufacturers. But individuals are sure to take advantage of this as well.

If you’re a person who loves weed, but hates smoking it, your world is about to change. All you need to do is help share the news and make powdered cannabis as widely understood as possible. The world is changing for the better, and stoners are partly responsible for that!

This new form of consuming cannabinoids has come to change the game. If you're a consumer that does not enjoy smoking, cannabis powder may be your solution!

Weed powder

Photo via Mondo Meds

Powdered cannabis edibles have already hit legal marijuana markets along the West Coast. With time, they may completely revolutionize the way we cook with cannabis – or consume weed in general.

Powdered pot is nothing new. Humans have ground cannabis flowers into fine dusts since we first discovered we could get lifted on the stuff. What’s new about powdered cannabinoids is that they’re not flowers. They’re cannabis oils specially prepared to dissolve in water, something thought impossible until recently.

So, how does it work? Although individual manufacturers offer slight variations on the technology, all versions follow the same approach. Cannabinoids, like THC or CBD, are encapsulated with a starch or other carbohydrate. When this happens, the nanoscopic cannabinoid droplet behaves like a sugar, and sugars can dissolve in water, unlike oil.

CBD-infused Instant Coconut Water, image courtesy Oleo

“When you put it in your mouth, it starts absorbing immediately through your carbohydrate uptake pathways. Your body recognizes it as a carbohydrate,” says Skyler Bissell, COO of Oleo Inc in Washington State. Oleo spent years developing a proprietary process to create encapsulated cannabinoids powders that, when mixed with water, can infuse flavored teas, coconut water, and most other edibles.

Bissell confirmed that Oleo’s powdered cannabis products can take as little as 20 minutes to begin binding to the body’s cannabinoid receptors. This contrasts with oils which, like cannabis-infused butters, begin absorbing into the bloodstream only after reaching the small intestines. “By the time a traditional product has begun to dissolve,” Bissell adds, “our product has had a significant amount of time to already do so.”

The science behind Oleo’s products, image courtesy Oleo

With the much quicker reaction time offered by powdered cannabis, consumers greatly reduce their chances of taking too much, which has become an issue with edibles in the age of legalization. Conventional, oil-based edibles can take as long as two hours to take effect, which can lead to overdosing among novice or impatient edibles consumers. In addition to preventing a too-much, too-late scenario, powdered cannabinoids may resolve other issues that currently plague THC-infused food manufacturers.

Josh Held is one of the founders of Made by Science, a California-based technology company that specializes in encapsulation techniques for the cannabis industry. Made by Science has partnered with SoCal canna-company THC Design to launch an entire line of powdered cannabis products tweaked for maximum water solubility, depending on the intended uses. For instance, drink mixes are made with one formula, whereas powders for baking use another. To pull this off, their powders require a greater range of materials to encapsulate cannabinoids beyond carbohydrates, with the resulting encapsulations designed to release cannabinoids on contact with target surfaces, whether they be water or human tissues.

“If you’re trying to stir it into large batches,” Held says of his company’s powdered products, “you have a medium that allows it to create homogenous batches.” In other words, edibles made with powdered cannabinoids spread evenly throughout a food product, ensuring more reliable dosing. Oil-based infusions tend to clump or aggregate, which can lead to some batches possessing higher or lower amounts of THC than intended.

‘Mix’ powdered cannabis from Made by Science & THC Design, courtesty Made by Science

Held also notes that powdered cannabis never has to be cooked, if the chef chooses that route. Since the cannabinoids and terpenes in a powdered product don’t require heat for infusion or activation, these products can achieve a biochemical profile closer to that of the original cannabis strain.

Emily O’Brien — owner of Mondo Meds, another California edibles manufacturer — says consumers of her company’s powdered cannabis often choose to skip the cooking process altogether and eat the powder straight out of the package.

“It has a similar texture to cotton candy,” says O’Brien. “As soon as you put it on your tongue, it just disappears.” She notes there is a slight hint of cannabis in Mondo Meds’ powder, but “the finish is definitely cacao butter. It leaves a creamy taste in the mouth.”

The simplicity of the powder’s use, of course, doesn’t stop at direct applications to the tongue. O’Brien says powdered cannabis makes any edible preparation as easy as adding a condiment. “You can medicate your food after it’s already plated,” she explains. “After everything is on your plate, you can just sprinkle it on like salt.” No culinary skills required.

Mondo’s powdered cannabis, courtesy Mondo Meds

For now, powdered cannabinoid mixes are primarily available only on U.S. west coast, but the companies interviewed here plan to expand eastward into legal markets in coming months. Yet the powdered cannabis method is catching on internationally, extending as far as the U.K., where cannabis remains illegal even for medical use.

ToKe, who requested anonymity for this story, belongs to the Hemel Hempstead Cannabis Club — an underground medical cannabis collective in England. Because commercial cannabis products from the U.S. are unavailable, marijuana patients and their caregivers there must resort to making their own.

ToKe has provided powdered cannabinoid and terpene mixes, made from scratch, to the collective’s patients for the past year. He says he got the idea from a friend who is a molecular gastronomist, a type of culinary artist that prepares dishes using cutting-edge chemistry techniques. But you don’t have to be a trained chef to make powdered weed at home, he says.

“There’s a lot of food-grade emulsifiers you can buy,” ToKe told MERRY JANE over the phone. “Ingredients that turn oil into a powder, to create a powdered chocolate. I thought maybe that would work with cannabis oil. I tried it, and it did.”

Due to the legal situation in the U.K., ToKe reports that more and more persons using marijuana for medical purposes are seeking out powdered cannabis. Because of its form and lack of odor, there’s much less risk associated with possessing or using it. Although he believes powdered weed will gain more popularity because of its versatility, he cautions others to treat powdered cannabis as a medical product with broad but not quite universal applicability.

“Because it’s a complex carbohydrate, it contains sugars — in terms of using it for cancer it’s probably not great,” warns ToKe. Some cancers may be exacerbated by high carbohydrate intake, a phenomenon dubbed the Warburg effect. “But using it for any other medical condition,” he claims, “it works well for.”

And no, you don’t sniff it. ]]>