When we think about weed edibles, the images that most often enter our minds are those of brownies, gummies or cookies — flavorful concoctions that someone with an unrelenting case of the munchies would most likely be drooling over already. This isn’t a recent idea either: Three thousand years ago, in ancient India, humans devised an intoxicating mixture called Bhang, made up of pulverized weed, milk, ghee and several spices. As the Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India outlines, “In the ancient text Artharvaveda, Bhang is described as a beneficial herb that ‘releases anxiety.’ Bhang preparations were sacred to Gods, particularly Shiva. One of Shiva’s epithets was ‘Lord of Bhang’ as he is said to have discovered the transcendental properties of the mixture.”
All of which may explain why Shiva is occasionally depicted as looking like your friend Kevin’s older cousin who you bought weed off of in middle school.
In more recent times, widespread legalization and the legal freedom it has provided manufacturers and researchers is contributing to the development of even more unique variations of edible weed, some of which step away from the traditional sweet and delicious formation — namely, weed pills.
Sure, pills are an obvious means of delivering any drug, but when you have the option between brownies and tasteless tablets, the stoned choice seems pretty damn obvious (brownies, duh, put them in my mouth). So let’s figure out why weed industry insiders believe THC pills are the next big product to hit the booming weed market.
So, uh, why pills?
For starters, there are a lot of consumers interested in experimenting with weed, but the idea of smoking or vaping turns them away. “We started the company on an observation that, as legalization expands, more and more people are going to want to come into the market for whom smoking isn’t the preferred method of consumption,” says Peter Barsoom, CEO and founder of 1906, a cannabis edibles company formulating a new, swallowable tablet. “Only 11 to 12 percent of the population smokes in general, and now, especially with concerns around vaping, the risks associated with inhalation and using your lungs as a drug delivery device are becoming even more apparent and of greater concern.”
Smoking and vaping aren’t the only concerns for some potential weed consumers, though — so is consuming cannabis with a hefty portion of chocolate and sugar. “Gummies aren’t normally a staple of a health-conscious person’s regimen,” Barsoom emphasizes, adding that their tablets will also be gluten-free, calorie-free and vegan, all of which allow for a more tailored cannabis experience, without the extras that come with most other edibles on the market.
“Sometimes I’m in the mood for a chocolate, but sometimes it’s not the right time or place, so being able to give people the same effect and experience that meets their needs is really powerful,” Barsoom continues. “As an example, I had a friend of mine who recently did a triathlon, and chocolates aren’t appropriate to carry with you while you’re going for a run.”
Not to mention, Americans just plain love pills, so providing cannabis in that form could attract more customers and potentially shift our societal view of weed as a recreational drug to a more medicinal one, something that could, again, attract more consumers. “Popping pills is kind of the American way,” Barsoom laughs. “In the cannabis market, we’ve been told that cannabis is medicine, but it hasn’t been available in a truly medicinal format up until now.”
Sounds cool, but does the pill formation influence the high?
Not in every case. 1906, for example, is using the same formulation in their forthcoming tablets that they already use in their chocolate edibles. That said, this formulation is tailored to provide a prompt high — prompter than most unpredictable edibles, at least — something I already wrote about a while back:
“Colorado marijuana edibles company 1906 recently introduced a line of fast-acting edibles that take effect within just 20 minutes. To achieve such speeds, their scientists used a process called microencapsulation (a method frequently practiced by Big Pharma): In this, the cannabinoids in the marijuana are coated with fat globules, which the body is able to absorb more quickly.”
Naturally, the weed tablets will take effect even quicker than these fast-acting edibles, since pharmaceutical tablets are made up of various ingredients that contribute to the absorption of the drug within.
What other changes can we expect?
There are also weed tablets that dissolve on the tongue, rather than in the stomach, and that can have a profound effect on the high. Serg, a technology adviser working with Honest Marijuana, explains that the stomach metabolizes THC into a different metabolite called 11-Hydroxy-THC. 11-Hydroxy-THC, he says, is three to four times more potent than regular THC. In that sense, edibles are intrinsically stronger and more sedative than weed absorbed through the lungs, which explains why my computer is a portal into another universe right now.
Serg tells me that pharmacists often need to find a way to prevent the stomach from metabolizing one drug into another, less desirable substance. Usually, this can be avoided by injecting the drug straight into the bloodstream, but I think anyone reading this article can agree that injecting weed isn’t an option, unless you work for Fox News. Another way of bypassing the stomach is through the use of suppositories, which Serg calls, “a great method, but not fucking user-friendly after you and me are done eating sushi.”
This is where weed tablets that dissolve on the tongue come into play: They penetrate the bloodstream from the mouth, skipping the stomach and liver, providing a quick, more cerebral effect, similar to smoking, but without the negatives — e.g., a car that smells like a weed shop, clothes that reek of kush and the potential for lung damage.
I like that! Is there anything else I should know, though?
In general, weed tablets are more discreet and portable than a huge tray of weed-scented brownies. Plus, they tend to hold up better and provide another option in those instances where a baked or candied edible is undesirable — when you want to sleep without experiencing a gummy-induced sugar rush, say, or when you want to take some edibles out on a hot day without them melting in your pocket.
Stoners, they never cease to find a way.