Certain marijuana-infused edibles companies are now targeting weed lightweights with cannabis-lite products. These products are designed to give infrequent or inexperienced users a euphoric THC high without completely overwhelming them. Manufacturers have found that many consumers who are unfamiliar with the drug are drawn to edibles because its a much more conventional method of intake, but some products become so strong that users are often reporting very negative experiences.
“For a long time, the medical market was a race to the strongest edibles. Now it’s a new market, and people want something that won’t get them so inebriated they’re not functional,” explained Holden Sproul of the Growing Kitchen, the company that offers the ‘Rookie Cookie’ — Growing Kitchen is even beginning to phase out some of its older and more potent products.
“We still get people walking in here saying, ‘What’s the strongest thing?’ But more and more they’re asking about flavor, the experience, the whole nine yards,” said Tim Cullen, owner of two Colorado marijuana dispensaries.
Cullen draws a comparison between hard alcohol and the potency of marijuana edibles: “No one buys a handle of Jim Bean and thinks they should drink all of that in one sitting. But people do want to eat an entire cookie, an entire piece of chocolate. So these products allow you to do that and not have a miserable experience.”
This transition is not just about finding new opportunities in the market, however. The potency of marijuana edibles is an often vilified aspect of the drug, and prohibitionists and some media outlets have pounced on stories like New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s infamous stumble down the rabbit hole earlier this year. Further controversy surrounded the death of Levy Thamba, a 19-year-old college student who ate several cannabis cookies, began behaving erratically, and eventually jumped from his Denver hotel room balcony, killing himself and drawing the issue of potent cannabis edibles to public attention.
More specific labeling and potency warnings were introduced. Some Colorado dispensaries have responded even further through a “First Time 5” poster campaign, which encourages first-time or inexperienced users to only consume 5 milligrams of THC at first — this is one half of a dose, as per Colorado regulations — in order to avoid something akin to Dowd’s face-melting experience. One marijuana advocacy group has even rented billboards and put up magazine ads featuring the motto “Start Low, Go Slow.”
While high-potency edibles will always have a marketplace for thrill-seekers and patients who require heavy doses, the cannabis-lite strategy is opening the door to new consumers and expanding the cannabis industry from the inside out.
Photo Credit: Ginny
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