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Marijuana edibles burgeoning into an industry

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 18, 2014 at 9:52 am •  Published: July 18, 2014
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High Times, a 40-year-old monthly magazine based in New York, has always featured a cooking column with a recipe. At least 40,000 people attended its Cannabis Cup in Denver in April, a sort of trade show that includes judging of marijuana edibles, said editor-in-chief Chris Simunek.

"Like everything else in marijuana at the moment, it's sort of experiencing a renaissance where the more people get interested, the more experiments they do with it," Simunek said.

The magazine said its "Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook" is the top-selling title of the five it offers.

It's not just a hobby or business; there's a science involved.

THC, marijuana's psychoactive chemical, must be smoked or heated — as in cooked — to be activated. When ingested rather than inhaled, it provides a longer-lasting and often more intense feeling.

Users of pot edibles, such as cookies, are often advised to eat only a portion so they don't get too high. Education about proper dosing has become a priority after at least one death and a handful of hospital visits were linked to consuming too much of an edible.

At the New England Grassroots Institute in Quincy, Mass., Mike and Melissa Fitzgerald conduct cooking classes on the use of marijuana as part of the daily diet.

"We really don't do this to be high as a kite," said Melissa Fitzgerald. "You really have to take people's health seriously and have a purpose."

The Washington state Liquor Control Board adopted rules to require recreational marijuana products to be labeled clearly as such; to be scored so a serving size is easy to distinguish; and to be approved by the board before sale.

In Vermont — one of 22 states that allow the use of medical marijuana, along with the District of Columbia — the Legislature this year passed a bill that allows more people to get medical marijuana and called for a study of financial effects if the state were to allow recreational use.

Bridget Conry, general manager of Champlain Valley Dispensary in Burlington, Vermont, and of Southern Vermont Wellness, another medical marijuana dispensary in Brattleboro, is already creating infused olive oils, tinctures and a gluten-free cracker. She expects soon to be making pestos and other infused foods, in manageable amounts that allow people to control dosing.

"We've always come from the perspective of like, who eats a quarter of a cookie?" Conry said. "We're trying to make our things portion-specific, because you know you want to eat the whole cookie."