Global cannabis market growth has been, and continues to be, unprecedented - now, reaching dizzy heights of $37.4 billion and counting (thought to rise to $102 billion by 2026). But it’s not all about whole flowers and CBD oils. Cannabis and CBD edibles have come into a league of their own, making up a whopping 11% (equating to $3 billion) of the market in 2020.
Cannabis legislation is continuing to open up and evolve across the world, prompting views surrounding this spectacular plant to change with it. As stigma dissolves into an ill-informed era, even those new to cannabis are starting to explore a wider range of products, with edibles being one particular kind that has broken through with a bang into the mainstream.
Cannabinoid edibles are now available in a huge variety of forms – from chocolate to mints, to gummies. But, despite the boom, we’re currently in the midst of seeming wholly impressive, this is just the beginning.
The new coalition government in Germany has announced plans to make the country the first in Europe to begin legalising cannabis. More European countries will inevitably follow suit and, if the current market stats are anything to go by, an even bigger FMCG product explosion is set to follow.
Cannabis consumers all over the world are choosing to eat their greens for a range of reasons that vary dramatically depending on whether the edible contains THC or not.
CBD Gummies and CBD edibles are growing in popularity as a discreet and novel way to get your daily cannabinoid dose. Not only are they favoured by those who enjoy the taste and experience of the types of edibles on offer, but there are a number of functional benefits too:
- When ingested, cannabinoids have a much longer active life. Some studies have shown cannabinoids that have been eaten remain in your system for up to 12 hours, as opposed to the 6-8 you might get from oral drops.
- For consumers addressing health concerns related to the gut, edibles can be a superior option, as receptors in the gut become the primary target for cannabinoids. These receptors include those that make up the endocannabinoid system, and neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, that are synthesised in the gut.
- Cannabinoids that enter into the digestive process might be far more effective in the body. Although much of the potency of cannabinoids like CBD is lost, what’s left could do a better job as when eaten they bind with a glucuronide compound as part of the process. This enhances the molecules’ ability to diffuse across the blood-brain barrier and travel faster throughout the body.
- The bioavailability of cannabinoids metabolised by the liver and gut is very low, but this can be addressed by opting for water-soluble formulation within the edible or by creating an edible that includes oil or butter in the recipe.
While all of this is true for many cannabinoids, the THC molecule is something else that must be carefully considered when making cannabis edibles for rollout in countries where higher THC levels are legal.
- THC Delta-9 (the type that can produce a euphoric effect when smoking, vaping or using an oil) becomes something entirely different when digested. When THC reaches the liver, it’s broken down into a metabolite that is the result of the interaction with the body, rather than a naturally occurring compound in the plant. This metabolite is called 11-hydroxy-THC.
- Although it can take up to 2 hours to feel the effects of a THC-rich edible, the effects can be extremely potent due to this conversion, as 11-hydroxy-THC can cross the blood-brain barrier with much greater ease.
Although THC edibles can produce a very potent high, which might deter some users, they are loved by many chronic pain patients, those suffering nausea, cancer symptoms or insomnia due to the strong, long-lasting effect.
The answer to that is simple: it’s a pretty mammoth challenge to create edibles of exceptional quality, that meet regulation criteria, contain exact cannabinoid levels that are consistent every time, has excellent stability and shelf life, can be scaled up to reach an international market – all while tasting great. As with all things cannabis and CBD, not all edibles are made equal. You really need to know what you’re doing and that’s why there are so many edibles out there that don’t stand up to the task.
But to rise to the top and make your mark in an over-saturated industry, you have to be brave. These challenges aren’t something to shy away from, they’re just points you should take on board if you want to create a stand-out product.
Here at True North Labs, we pride ourselves on being able to deliver exceptional quality cannabinoid edibles that not only provide a superb consumer experience with every bite but actually work as they’re supposed to, as well. All while satisfying regulators. We know that taking your edible goals and making them a reality is absolutely achievable – and it’s well worth the effort too.
Making CBD Gummies might be something you experiment with-in small, hand-made batches first. But if you’re wanting to scale up and get your product out into the world, you need to work with cannabinoid formulation experts to not only increase your production output, but improve all areas of quality and consistency too.
When you’re looking at edibles that include cannabinoids, a deep understanding of how these molecules interact with the body and change when digested is vital, as is clear labelling and favourable recommended servings for most users. One of the main hurdles cannabis brands encounter is ensuring the potency, duration and timing of the cannabinoid edible experience is as always as consistent as possible. This means the strength of active ingredients, such as CBD and THC, and appropriate dosing must be well thought through, while also taking into account the fact that cannabinoids are hydrophobic (meaning they don’t dissolve in water unless you are working with an emulsion or a water-soluble) and finding ways to address that.
Once you’ve found a formulation that ticks all the boxes, you’ll be on to a winner. Due to the complexities of creating a fantastic edible, the competition is slim! So, there’s a lot more scope for your cannabis brand to take the world by storm.
If you’re keen to learn more about making an edible that your customers will love, or how to stay ahead of the cannabis curve during these exciting times in Europe, get in touch with our team of experts at True North Labs.
Source: Infographic by Sara Chodosh / Popular Science