Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2020 The New York Times Company
Pubdate: Wed, 11 Nov 2020
Author: Sheera Frenkel


OAKLAND, Calif. - In the weeks leading up to November, Iashia Kilian
felt her anxiety deepen.

She knew her vote in the swing state of Michigan could help decide who
the next president would be. She had done everything she could to help
campaign for her candidate of choice. Now, all she could do was sit
back, wait and make sure she had her favorite marijuana edibles at

"The panic, the anxious feelings, it has all been too much. I knew I
was only going to get through it with some help," said Ms. Kilian, 43,
who lives in Center Line. "I used to be the kind of person who would
judge someone, especially a mother like me, taking edibles. But you
know what? Everything happening here in this country is just too much.
The people need some help."

For many people across the United States, help came in the form of
gummy bears, cookies, chocolates and gel capsules, all infused with a
dose of cannabis calibrated to soothe Election Day jitters. While
nationwide sales information is hard to come by, companies that
specialize in edibles said sales soared in the weeks leading up to the

No longer a fringe item limited to pot brownies in a college dorm,
edibles are being sold as part of the wellness industry and marketed
as pantry staples. Or, as one Facebook group recently boasted, there
is now an edible for every type of anxiety.

National surveys and elections show that Americans are increasingly
interested in legalizing marijuana use. According to polls from
Gallup, support for legalization rose from 12 percent in 1969 to 31
percent in 2000 and 66 percent in 2019. And on Nov. 3, voters in New
Jersey, South Dakota, Montana and Arizona added their states to the 11
others that had legalized recreational marijuana. Mississippi and
South Dakota made medical marijuana legal, bringing that total to 35.

The Election Day sweep means legal marijuana sales will soon reach
one-third of Americans, expanding a market already experiencing
booming sales during the pandemic.

In Facebook groups dedicated to edibles, people shared recipes to help
calm Election Day jitters. Biden Brownie Bites and Trump Truffles were
two dessert recipes featured, along with a note that no matter what
side of the partisan divide people fell on, they could probably use an
edible to help get them through the wait as ballots were counted.

Even as news networks declared on Saturday that Joseph R. Biden Jr.
was the president-elect, many people said they remained anxious about
battles over the vote count making their way through the courts, and
the uncertainty over President Trump's transition from power.

"There was the pandemic, and then the summer with all the social
justice issues, and now the election stress," said Coco Meers,
co-founder and chief executive of Equilibria, a women-focused company
in Chicago that specializes in CBD, a hemp-derived compound. "It has
been nonstop, and it has led to extraordinary demand of cannabis."

Her sales over the past month have increased over 40 percent from
previous months, without marketing or promotions, Ms. Meers said.
Demand for CBD gel capsules has skyrocketed, along with a concierge
service that helps Equilibria's customers decide how much to take, how
often and what time of the day the capsules are best ingested.

"It is definitely becoming normalized," Ms. Meers said. "We are seeing
grandmothers who never thought they would be open minded to cannabis
calling us. Mom groups are discussing it openly. It has just become a
recognized thing to help people with anxiety."

In New York, Doug Cohen and his business partner, Miguel Trinidad, a
chef, started a multicourse marijuana dining experience last year,
typically costing $150 per person. During the pandemic, they shifted
from meals to cooking courses, helping customers experiment with new
ways to saute, sear, broil and bake with marijuana at home. Demand for
at-home edibles cooking classes skyrocketed as the election neared.

"I would say we had three or four times as many people reaching out to
us for help over the last couple weeks," Mr. Cohen said.

The cook-at-home items are less complicated than the marijuana-infused
spicy Sichuan noodles or seared Japanese Wagyu beef that the business
might serve at its dinners. One of the top requests is
cherry-chile-chocolate-cannabis ice cream.

"Food as a concept is so much less scary than smoking. It feels
easier, and something that can be part of your routine," Mr. Cohen
said. "If it can taste great and also help calm down your anxiety, it
is a win-win.

He added that many customers had become more interested in marijuana
edibles because, during the pandemic, they wanted to spare their lungs
damage from smoking.

Medical professionals largely agree that edibles appear to be safer
than smoking or vaping, but note that they carry some risk. The
psychoactive effects from edibles can take hours to kick in, leading
people to consume one gummy or chocolate too many as they grow impatient.

Daria Carmon, 39, said edibles had become part of her daily care
routine before the election.

"It's too tense, there is too much going on, and people need to
practice self care," said Ms. Carmon, who lives in Brooklyn. She added
that the normalization of edibles meant that people openly shared and
discussed what dosages, brands and types worked best for them.

She has learned, for instance, that her edibles need to "not be too

"I had to stop buying these salted caramels because they were too
delicious and I was worried I would go overboard," Ms. Carmon said.
"You can see a situation where you are watching election results come
in and snacking and the tastiest thing in your house also happens to
be your edible. Not good."

In Michigan, Ms. Kilian said edibles had helped her get through the
stress of waiting for election results, all while she watched the
number of people infected with coronavirus in the United States rise
each day and home-schooled her son.

On election night, she stayed awake until 3 a.m., watching the results
of the vote slowly roll in.

"I had every news station going - NBC, Fox, CNN," Ms. Kilian said. "I
was listening to everyone, and they weren't saying anything. If I had
not had my edible, I would have been stressed. As it was, I felt a
little stress, but I also felt a calm. I knew I could wait and find
out who won."

Days later, she was happy that she had the foresight to stock up on
her favorite edibles.

"Shops are selling out - people are stressed," she said. "People need
their medicine."