Cannabis infused edibles are a big hit, but the delivery method poses a concern with regards to dosing.

Edibles are a hit with cannabis consumers. Cannabis consumers have gobbled up the new edible products introduced last week in Ontario’s legal cannabis shops. The OCS was sold out of its edibles products within an hour. Retail stores reported that gummies, cookies and chocolates also sold out within an hour of hitting store shelves. Edibles are the heavy favorites because they allow consumers to try products without having to resort to smoking. Consumers must be wary of the timeline that it may take to feel the high as a result, and not ingest more than recommended by Health Canada. With the use of edibles increasing, the delivery method poses a concern with regards to dosing.

Consumers who have not smoked or used cannabis products before could be at risk of overdosing. Inexperienced or first-time users must be aware of their own tolerance and be cognizant of avoiding snacking away while waiting for a high. Being careful and mitigating how users consume cannabis infused edibles will help prevent issues such as a racing heartbeat, anxiety and panic attacks that will ultimately lead to a trip to the emergency room. Users must be aware that edibles can take several hours to digest and get absorbed in their system. The type of food consumed with it, before or after, the type and size of a person, weight and time of day will also have an impact on the onset and duration of the “high”. It is a very different absorption method when compared to smoking cannabis that is quickly inhaled through the lungs.

Seniors are especially at risk because of slower metabolism and the possibility of having other prescription drugs in their system. Current federal regulations limit the individual size to a 10ml maximum dose of THC per package, the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis, in order to control how much and how quickly dosing can happen. In general, consumers need to be aware that the onset of the effect of THC or CBD based edibles is within a 60-180 min window, with the affect lasting up to 4-6 hours.
Cannabinoids can be infused in a variety of ways and if there is an uneven distribution of active ingredients it may lead to unpredictable results. Production of edibles must adhere to the highest standards in order to make sure that each batch is exactly controlled, measured and infused properly. It is a much longer onset and a longer affect then smoking or vaping. It has less of an odor, more convenient, discreet and much more controlled.

The greatest allure of this growing segment of the industry if that new technologies and products are developed continuously and improvements are vast. That is also the greatest drawback. As with any new industry, time tested products and technologies are not available and it’s a trial and tribulations type of growth. Being aware of the risks and rewards of cannabis consumption is crucial to maximizing the user experience while minimizing negative affects.

The Next Cannabis Craze – Infused Topicals

As 2019 has come to an end, it will undoubtedly go down as one of the strongest years in a long time for the broader market and likely the worst year for marijuana stocks.  What started out as a profitable investment in the first quarter turned into a major buzzkill for the remaining nine months.  Since the end of the first quarter, most cannabis stocks have lost a significant chunk of their market cap as questions rose concerning the growth trajectory of the global cannabis industry fell short of expectations.  This has left the industry struggling to answer one simple question: What does 2020 hold in store for cannabis stocks.

Topicals are lotions, balms, salves, creams and oils that are infused with cannabis and absorbed through the skin to provide countertraded relief for pain, inflammation and soreness. Although they have cannabinoid elements, topicals are non-psychoactive and are generally used by patients who want therapeutic relief without a “high.” Infused topicals can be used for a variety of ailments such as burns, inflammation, skin infections and overall skin conditioning, chronic pain, and treating some side effects of cancer treatments.

Several cannabis derivative products are poised to breathe life into an already staggered industry such as infused beverages, vapes and concentrates with the biggest mover being topicals.  Derivates offer significantly higher margin products than traditional dried cannabis, making this past Decembers launch particularly important for the financial well being of marijuana stocks. What’s more, derivatives are particularly popular with younger adults and first-time users, thereby providing a bridge for the pot industry to a new generation of cannabis consumers.

Cannabis derivative products such as topicals work effectively at creating a bigger overall marker for the former Schedule 1 drug, for example, for users who may not feel comfortable inhaling a rolled cigarette or vape pen. They offer significant advantages for producers as well, namely the prospect of higher margins and expanded profitpotential. Cannabis infused topicals involve a significantly greater deal of processing before they’re ready for market. That means they’re more expensive and complex to manufacture, but it also allows space for producers to differentiate themselves, allowing them not only to charge a higher margin for their products but to differentiate themselves from a branding perspective as well.

For processing companies in the cannabis industry who own their own IP, such as XTRX Solutions, for topical formulations are poised to become winners in the race to market.  Having a handful of topicals developed ahead of time and have them ready to be personalized for the client, with scents, texture, CBD and THC to name a few options, will come out ahead.   Licensed producers will be able to cut wait times while formulating their own formulations, avoid finding a manufacturer, cut down on lead time, and not to mention avoid any importing fees associated with purchasing a ready-made base from outside Canada. This will enable a company to develop and produce an infused topical much faster and have their product readily available on the shelves than most of their competitors.

With the state of the cannabis landscape as it is today,  more and more Licensed Producers are bound to pivot from the stagnant dried flower and pre-roll revenue streams and move to a  more lucrative means of selling their products through vapes and tinctures with the majority of the profit margins coming from topicals. Topicals are poised to be the leading derivative product this year as profit margins are high and they appeal to wider audience at the end of the day. Companies that have established partnerships with processors who have cut the lead time by having their own IP on several products are bound to hit their growth trajectory in 2020.

Distillates

In the world of cannabis concentrates, the distillate has one of the highest percentages of THC. Be warned, a distillate can have a potency of up to 99%.  So if you’re not ready for a super potent dab, distillates will knock you out.  Be that as it may, studies have shown that 9% of Canadian cannabis users were already using distillate products prior to Cannabis 2.0. With an anticipated 21% of cannabis users eager to try it post October 17, 2019.  One of the main benefits of introducing distillates into the legal market is that it will allow for more accurate dosing.  Given the nature of the distillate, manufacturers can now provide users exact measurements of what they will be receiving and how to dose.

So what makes a cannabis distillate different from every other concentrate? Well, the answer lies in the extraction process referred to as “shot path distillation.” The process takes your average dabs and makes them safer and stronger. The process is spit into two parts. First, a machine cuts the terpenes and removes them from the cannabinoids.  The second half of the process removes the lipids, impurities, and solvents, leaving a clear concentrate with no smell. Distillate appears as a clear, golden oil that is odourless, unless the terpenes have been reintroduced.  Under the new regulations introduced in Cannabis 2.0, Licensed Producers of Cannabis can now introduce distillate products into the market for recreational consumption.

Cannabis distillate has many alternative uses.  For advanced users, distillate can be consumed in its post-production state without further enhancements, through vaping, or dabbing. The effects of this consumption method can be experience immediately.  As an alternative, distillate can also be added to dry flower in a bowl or joint, to intensify the users high without altering the flavour or odour.  Alternatively, consumers may opt to use a dropper.  Through this method, distillate can be ingested sublingually, under the tongue. For those novice users, however, distillate can be mixed into topicals or oils creating a transdermal solution that allows for the dosage to be absorbed through the skin. Although, one of the most highly anticipated consumption methods of distillate are edible product lines. Through infusing distillate into various foods such as gummy candies, chocolates and baked goods, cannabis companies can effectively create a micro-dose without compromising on taste.

The purity and potency of a distillate are unmatched.  It takes a long time to make than other concentrates.  Not to mention the advanced equipment needed to make distillates makes them more expensive than other dabs.  With no residual solvents, they hit smoother than most other concentrates. The estimated market size for the new cannabis consumable goods is estimated to be over $2.7 billion, with $1.6 billion being generated from edibles alone. Licensed Producers who are first to market with distillate and distillate infused products are sure to garner a large profit from the market share.

Daily Dose of Cannabis

On the advent of Cannabis 2.0 in October 2019, the cannabis consumer finds themselves confused. The culprit for this tribulation is indecision stemming from conflicting opinions around consumption methods for cannabis. While there is a surplus of knowledge on the topic of consumption through smoking, vaping, oral ingestibles, mouth spray and topicals, but as for advice based off documented clinical trails, not so much. To put this issue in perspective, in a study conducted by Maccallum and Russot, “Practical Considerations in Medical Cannabis Administration and Dosing,” published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, 89.5% of USA surveyed doctors in residents lacked confidence to prescribe cannabis.  Additionally, according to the study, only 35.3% believed themselves competent enough, on the topic, to comfortably answer questions. One could argue that the lack of confidence stems from a bias towards old mentalities and trouble adapting to new approaches.  One of the most iconic consumption methods is smoking and recently, vaping.  However, the recent back lash that those delivery methods cause (through illegal sales and production), consumers are looking for other delivery methods such as oral delivery, mouth sprays and topicals.

Smoking involves the inhalation of gasses released from the combustion of cannabis at 600-900ᵒC. This has been the most prevalent delivery method for centuries and despite its popularity, this is also one of the unhealthiest methods of consumption. Continued consumption, using this method, is associated with several adverse and series effects such as respiratory issues ranging from bronchitis, couch and phlegm. Similar to smoking and gaining traction in the past half a decade, vaporizing involves the inhalation of gasses where the cannabis is only heated to temperatures of 160-230ᵒC. This reduces the amount of harmful side products being inhaled, however, it does not completely eliminate them completely. Health issues aside, smoking and vaping cannabis is the fastest delivery method to date.  With the onset taking 5-10 minutes and duration lasting 2 -4 hours.  There are several pros and cons related to this delivery method.  Pros include rapid action and advantage for acute or episodic symptom relief.  However, it requires dexterity and vaporisers may be expensive and a number of them are not portable.

Oral ingestion of cannabis has three particularly promising avenues through oil, gel capsules and mouth sprays.  All three allow the user to dose themselves with a high degree of accuracy with essentially no reported adverse effects.  Another method that is gaining popularity is edibles, however, this method presents concerns with regards to dosing.  Depending on how the cannabinoids are infused, there can be uneven distribution of active ingredients leading to unpredictable results. Another method that faces issues is infused teas as the temperature of the water is not sufficient to decarboxylate the acidic forms of the cannabinoids.  This severely limits the effectiveness of the teas as a dosing method. The onset of orally ingesting cannabis is 60-180 minutes due to having to pass through the GI tact and then through the liver.  This longer route to the blood-brain barriers means the effects take longer to set in, and some CBD can degrade while passing through the digestive tract, which means you would need to take much higher doses than you would through smoking or vaping,  but the duration of effects is longer usually lasting 6-8 hours.  It has less odor, more convenient and discrete and is suitable for treating chronic disease and symptoms.

The last delivery method that is gaining popularity is topicals.  This is a site-specific approach and has shown some promise in treating certain conditions.  The cannabinoids are suspended into a carrying solution which is applied directly to the location of interest.  This is especially important for medical cannabis users who need targeted relief in a specific area of the body and would otherwise have to use a large amount of cannabis to get the desired results through inhalation or edibles. The pros of this delivery method are that it is has a less systemic effect on the user and is excellent in treating localised symptoms.  However, the onset of the effects and duration vary greatly.

One of the greatest allures to this rapidly growing industry is the continuous stream of new technologies and products being developed. This, however, is also one of the greatest drawbacks to this industry as well.  The luxury of time-tested products and technologies is not available.  This can be especially stressful when dealing with potential impacts to one’s health. Being informed of the risks and rewards for cannabis consumption methods is crucial to maximizing the users experience while minimizing potential negative implications.

Health Applications of CBN & CBG

Marijuana has hundreds of compounds that each have their own health benefits, which is why the cannabis plant is more like a medicine cabinet than a single medication.  By isolating the compounds, we need, we can create medicine for all sorts of health issues. Medical marijuana experts focus on cannabinoid compounds when examining cannabis’ components.  You may already know about cannabidiol (CBD), a popular wellness ingredient. But, what about cannabigerol (CBG) or Cannabinol (CBN)? These cannabinoids both have health benefits, but they help you in different ways.

First, Cannabinol (CBN) is derived from THC-A, with only slight psychoactive effects having been documented. Its main uses have been as a form of alternative medicine. CBN is mostly used as a sedative, sleep-aid and chronic pain reliever. In many cases, CBN is used as a natural alternative to help alleviate pain and inflammation caused by several diseases, including arthritic and Crohn’s disease.  It is also an anticonvulsant and can be used to help patients suffering from epilepsy or who are suffering from seizures. Evidence also suggests that it can be used to lower the intraocular eye pressure that is caused by conditions such as glaucoma. Thorough analyses have indicated that CBN is a compelling natural medicinal alternative.

Second, Cannabigerol (CBG) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that has many health benefits associated with it as well and has become a common form of alternative medicine that is mainly known for its antibacterial effects.

  It is most commonly found in high CBD, low THC strains, such as hemp. Research has found that CBG will effectively target bacterial growth to either kill or slow it and can also be successfully used as an anti-inflammatory.  There has also been evidence to suggest that CBG can inhibit cell growth in tumour and cancer cells, which may have many applications in terms of cancer treatment solutions. Additionally, it has been found to promote bone growth, work as an effective anti-nausea solution and lowers intraocular eye pressure caused by afflictions, such as glaucoma.

There are few subjects that can stir up stronger emotions among doctors, scientists, researchers, policy makers, and the public than medical marijuana. Is it safe? Should it be legal? Decriminalized? Has its effectiveness been proven? What conditions is it useful for? Is it addictive? How do we keep it out of the hands of teenagers? Is it really the “wonder drug” that people claim it is? Is medical marijuana just a ploy to legalize marijuana in general? There are countless benefits of using marijuana. It is still puzzling how medicinal cannabis is still not legal in most countries, and still retains such a negative reputation and stigma.  Hopefully in the near future, medical science continues to prove its benefits in more fields and make this plan a famous cure for all major kinds of ailments.