The annual cannabis-culture holiday “4/20” coming up this Monday won’t be as raucous as usual, but in terms of the cannabis products being ingested that day, it’s safe to predict a preference for infused edibles — especially gummies — over smoking or vaping.
The reason, of course, is the fear of COVID-19 contagion from shared cannabis materials, as well as the disease’s respiratory dangers. And for parents sheltering in place with kids, gummies make sense, not just for their absence of smoke but because of the question of dosage.
“A 5-mg gummy,” declares gummy entrepreneur Ron Silver, “is exactly the thing that’s ‘responsible.’ It’s better than the medications that they dish out for the very same thing” – specifically, anxiety.
Silver speaks as the developer of a new technology that claims to enable just that sort of precise dosage control. Control is something that consumers have long sought from edibles, which in turn are attracting attention from the research world: According to a report being released Monday by New Frontier Data, infused cannabis products are, starting to, well, take off. “Infused cannabis products represent 14% of sales and will approach $3 billion in sales in 2020,” the report predicts.
In addition, New Frontier says, “There are several factors which could expand the market share of infused products throughout 2020 and beyond.”
Last year, in 2019, the report points out, cannabis users became concerned over reports of lung injuries from vaping. Add to that the current worries about the pulmonary threat from coronavirus, plus the significant time parents are spending at home with their children.
“Infused products” are sold as high-THC marijuana products, or low-THC/high-CBD products. Their three categories include solids, liquids and topicals. Of the three, solid edibles are outpacing other product lines (measured both by store-sales figures and self-reported consumption metrics) according to the report. Solid edibles, led in turn by gummies, comprise over 90% of the top-selling infused products, the report says. For 2020, they’re tracking to a 37% increase in sales over 2019.
Cannabis users, Frontier’s data also say, are showing a 33% usage rate for solid edibles, which far outpaces that for infused liquid beverages (11%), and topicals (8%).
Such data points have to be music to the ears of a self-declared gummies king like Silver. Best known around New York City as the chef-owner of beloved brunch spot Bubby’s, Silver is also the founder and creator of the CBD sweets company Azuca, (selling CBD sugar and simple syrup). Last summer, Silver partnered with the Colorado edibles company Wana Brands. That alliance, in turn, led to the launch, in February this year, of what Silver characterizes as a technologically advanced gummies brand, called Wana Quick.
These developments started with Azuca, where Silver developed TiME (Thermodynamic Individual Molecular Encapsulation) a technology whose backers claim facilitates a much faster onset of cannabis’s effects as well as a much shorter offset time.
With TiME, molecules largely bypass the liver and are absorbed into the soft tissue in the mouth and esophagus. The result is that the THC effects kick in – Silver says – in only five to 15 minutes. This solves the problem of those hours-long waits edibles typically present, as well as those lengthy highs which, alarmingly, don’t necessarily dissipate before a user’s next workday.
This has been one of users’ biggest beefs. “One of the things about edibles,” Silver explained in an interview “is that they are unpredictable. They have to go through your entire system and through your liver in order to be processed.” With TiME, “Individual molecules are encapsulated, and so it’s the smallest possible particle; our particle size is one and a half nanos. Probably in the other edibles, the smallest particle size you would find is anywhere from 200 to 1,000, so it makes a big difference in absorption.”
Accordingly, the offset time Silver claims, isn’t ten hours; it’s three. The onset isn’t 90 minutes; it’s five. In addition, Wana Quick gummies taste good, Chef Silver argues. His brand’s first three “happy hour” flavors are Sativa Peach Bellini, Indica Pina Colada and Strawberry Margarita (CBD/THC). The gummies are made at a facility in Colorado and are on the shelves in 100 stores in that states, where, the company publicist says, their initial production ran sold out in days.
Soon, Wana Quick gummies will be available in Canada and in California and other “legal” states. So, yes, cannabis users this 4/20 may have to wait, and to rely on slower gummies for now. But at least the kind of gummy they really want is coming.
“I think our product makes for a very good 4/20 while you’re sheltered in place,” Silver says, “because with the Wana Quick 5 mg sizes, you have a mild, easy buzz all day without being completely out of your mind.”