Pubdate: Thu, 12 Feb 2015
Source: SF Weekly (CA)
Copyright: 2015 Village Voice Media
Author: Chris Roberts

One San Francisco Dispensary Owner Wants to Put a Stop to Super-Potent Edibles


I'm afraid of what's in my freezer.

Wrapped in tinfoil, with "DO NOT EAT" scribbled in Sharpie, is a 
small brownie. At 447 calories and 27 grams of fat, only some people 
could eat this chocolate-toffee treat guilt-free. But you can forget 
about trying to run or work it off after digesting: A few bites, and 
you're in for a really weird day. If you eat the whole thing, prepare 
for a long, lost weekend.

This is because the brownie contains 700 milligrams of THC. That's 
the psychoactive punch in about an entire ounce of high-grade 
California medical cannabis. To put this into context: It takes about 
15 to 25 milligrams of THC to get someone high. The brownie contains 
about 35 times that amount.

Super potent edibles are on the rise everywhere marijuana is legal. 
If a brownie like this doesn't scare you, try devouring one of the 
1,000-milligram chocolate bars available in Colorado and California. 
Even more modest edibles are still too much: On my desk there's a 
pouch of hot chocolate mix containing 120 milligrams of THC. I cannot 
give it away. I tried pitching the benefit of a really relaxing cup 
of cocoa by the evening fire to a skier bruised by a day's run. "I 
need to be able to see the next day in order to ski," she says.

There is a market for these products. People are buying them. And 
edibles are becoming stronger and stronger. That means that while 
very few people would - or could - smoke an entire bag of marijuana, 
more people are eating the equivalent.

This is not sitting well with Kevin Reed. He is the founder and 
president of The Green Cross, one of San Francisco's oldest licensed 
medical cannabis dispensaries. Reed is fine with you being stoned; if 
you see him around town, and he knows you're a legal cannabis 
patient, he just may hand you a finger-sized joint. But he will not 
share my brownie.

"There is no medical necessity that requires that kind of dose," said 
Reed, who is trying to bring concerns of an out-of-control, 
"irresponsible" edibles industry to San Francisco City Hall.

For a long time, Reed limited edibles sold via his delivery service 
and storefront dispensary to 50 milligrams of THC. Patients 
complained that the product was too weak. So he upped it to 100 
milligrams per package (in two 50-milligram servings). That stopped 
the complaints, but even that is too much for most people, he said.

Reed's mother once visited him from her native Alabama and asked to 
try a cookie. The subsequent ordeal went something like this: She 
thought she was having a heart attack; Reed wouldn't take her to the 
emergency room, because waiting off a high, the only solution to an 
edibles overdose, is not better in an ER. She accused her son of 
trying to kill her. She recovered and mother and son are fine, but 
the experience turned Reed off from excessive edibles.

That scene is certainly being repeated across the country.

In California, where legal weed is only permitted to be used as 
medication, powerful edibles are not medically necessary, Reed says. 
They serve one function: to get incredibly fucked up. This could pose 
a problem for the patients with severe pain or lung problems who do 
need edible cannabis. "We are afraid if this trend continues, edibles 
will be taken away altogether," Reed wrote in a letter to the city.

Even worse: For anyone involved with cannabis, including the makers 
of the bomb brownie, experiences like these could halt legalization 
in its tracks.

In January, Reed wrote to the Department of Public Health and to the 
Board of Supervisors, requesting that something be done. He doesn't 
want a ban on mega-edibles, just a limit on what's sold in 
city-licensed medical dispensaries, as well as a rule requiring 
dispensaries to tell cannabis patients exactly how powerful edibles 
are. Though most edibles carry a label, there is currently no 
requirement to label an edible with its THC content.

Reed thinks a 150-milligram limit on edibles is reasonable. If you 
really need 700 milligrams of THC, he reasons, you can eat two or 
three. Putting all of that into one tiny chocolate square, however, 
"it's like a marijuana roofie," he tells me.

At least for now, weed roofies are okay in San Francisco. Neither 
public health officials nor elected officials are demonstrating any 
interest in regulating edibles.

Other than Reed, nobody has complained to the Health Department about 
edibles being too strong, officials there tell me (the city's entire 
dispensary program only generates about half-a-dozen complaints 
annually as it is, mostly whining about double parking and people 
smoking weed outside).

The city could, in theory, regulate edible strength the same way the 
alcohol content in beer and wine and the strength of Oxycodone pills 
are regulated. But that would require action from the Board of 
Supervisors, according to health officials.

Only three of the 11 city supervisors have given Reed a response. As 
far as what they plan to do remains unknown. None of the three 
responded to a request from SF Weekly for comment.

The reluctance from City Hall is partially the cannabis's industry's 
own fault. Several attempts to get government and the marijuana 
industry involved and working together failed spectacularly. The 
edible issue, if unchecked, could also be headed toward a much bigger disaster.

As for my brownie, it's staying put until I can find a way to cut it 
into thirty-fifths.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom