By Donnell Rubay
Special to the Herald
In Part I of my discussion on cannabis edibles I talked about the growing presence of edibles and some of their potential dangers.
Another problem with commercial edibles is that the entire field—is not being vetted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This means that in addition to writing its own laws about how and where to sell cannabis, the State must implement procedures and rules to mirror the work the FDA would be doing if cannabis were legal at the federal level.
As a wrinkle to this, most consumers—since they have lived their entire lives with legally sold commercial food products subject to the oversight of the FDA, will believe commercial edibles, and perhaps even all legally sold pot, to be FDA approved.
Unlike alcohol, which often tastes bitter the more it is present in a drink, the THC content—apparently—does not similarly impact the food it is in. Thus, there is the risk that someone not desiring to ingest THC might eat one of these attractive edibles—perhaps at a friend’s house or even in his/her own home not knowing exactly what a family member or room mate has recently purchased.
Author Bruce Barcott found this risk so great, especially with children in a home, that he placed the bag of THC infused chocolate covered gummy bears he purchased in a locked strong box. As Barcott explains: “I knew if I hid [the candies] somewhere ‘safe’, I’d forget about them for a few months. Then somebody else could find them. And eat them. There was a 2 in 4 chance that the person who found them would be one of my children. If my children were to find loose weed in the house, the chances of them popping it in their mouths, or making the effort to smoke it, paled by comparison.” (i)
Barcott’s concern for his children reminds that all those marijuana yummies are for adults only. Who knew adults were so into gummies?
Given that THC levels can be concentrated and presented in tasty and attractive and innocent appearing edibles, in my view, cannabis moves from something people use for pain relief because it is safer than opioids and/or provides a gentle high—to something as dangerous as any serious drug. Remember that while the poppy seeds on a bagel should cause no one concern, concentrate the potency of those seeds and you have heroin.
This danger with concentrated THC is even greater, in my view, when the product is yummy and attractive, rather than in a boring pill form or requiring a needle for ingestion.
Once cannabis is allowed in Benicia, if edibles are included, people will have the ability to purchase the makings of an intense, even dangerous, high whenever they wish–no doctor’s prescription required. In addition, everyone becomes at risk of ingesting serious levels of THC unknowingly, should they encounter a stray cookie or candy bar laying around that contains cannabis.(ii) We cannot count on every purchaser placing his/her edibles in a locked box like Mr. Barcott.
In conclusion, with cannabis edibles we have:
a. A lack of self-titration—creating the risk of over-ingestion;
b. A real danger of those not wishing to ingest, including children, consuming a yummy cannabis edible they find laying around; and
c. The selling, and purchasing, of commercial food products that have not been vetted by the FDA.
Another concern here is the fact that, since commercial edibles are so new, the long-term impacts of their sale, in a retail area such as First Street, are virtually unknown.
Consequently, while I believe, personally, that Benicia would be better off without the sale of cannabis within its borders or, especially, on First Street—if the Council is determined to allow the retail sale of cannabis, I argue against allowing the sale of cannabis edibles.
i. Barcott, Bruce Marijuana Goes Main Street, Special Time Edition (2017) p. 82.
ii. Of course the risk of sweets containing cannabis will exist even if only the cannabis itself is sold. People may purchase smokable product or tinctures, and place them in edibles themselves. While I would prefer no allowance of cannabis to avoid this risk completely—since this risk will be far less than if edibles are available in shops, I would be willing to accept it if the sale of commercial edibles were barred in the city.
Donnell Rubay is a Benicia resident. She has a degree in economics from the University of California-Berkeley.