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California’s New Edibles Limits Will Ban Popular Products

November 27, 2017
(artJazz/iStock)
Major changes to California cannabis dispensary menus—and at businesses making marijuana-infused edibles—are underway after state regulators slapped a strict limit on the amount of THC allowed in edible marijuana products.
When the state’s adult-use market launches Jan. 1, cannabis edibles sold in adult-use dispensaries must be capped at total strength of no more than 100 milligrams of THC. Edibles must also be divided into clearly identifiable servings of no more than 10 milligrams in strength each.

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The new limits will apply to medical marijuana products, too, though more potent edibles should still be available for several months. Stronger products are allowed at medical marijuana dispensaries until July 1 provided they have an extra label that identifies them as exceeding the 100-milligram limit.

The new restrictions are among a smorgasboard of changes to rules around cannabis-infused gummies, cookies, candies, and other edible products unveiled in emergency regulations released this month by the California Department of Public Health (DPH).

Edibles resembling fruit, animals, or humans will be prohibited beginning Jan. 1, and products may not resemble or be referred to as “candy” after that date. Labels can’t have cartoons, images, or other messaging that could potentially appeal to children, and they may not include any kind of health promises or guarantees that aren’t scientifically proven. The health department also reserves the right to ban any future product that it deems appealing to children.

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By far the most disruptive change is the limit on THC. In the state’s current medical market, patients have shown a strong affinity for potent products.

“The most popular edibles were the higher-potency edibles,” said Dennis Hunter, founder of Santa Rosa-based Cannacraft, which produces a host of cannabis brands, including Satori artisan chocolates. Several products in Satori’s line will now have to be discontinued, Hunter said.

“The regulated market is banning something people want. The black market will absolutely go take care of that demand.”

Dennis Hunter, Cannacraft founder

Other companies are scrambling after their product lines took a more severe hit. Among the most prominent is Korova, which markets high-potency products such as its 1,000-milligram “5150 bar,” which boasts “unrivaled potency.” Korova did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment from Leafly, but it appears the company has been preparing for a change. Earlier this month the company introduced a line of miniature cookies containing 100 milligrams of THC each.

Cannabis patients and consumers will still be allowed to access products stronger than 100 milligrams of THC, the best-known and most-understood of the many active compounds in the cannabis plant. Concentrates and tinctures with up to 1,000 milligrams of THC will be available in recreational dispensaries, and medical outlets will be allowed to carry products of up to 2,000 milligrams in strength.

While the new rules aren’t final—the emergency regulations could be changed again by late spring before they’re locked in—the limit on THC seems unlikely to change much anytime soon.

Regulators first proposed the 100-milligram cap in draft rules released in May. The limit puts California in step with other legal-marijuana states such as Washington, Colorado, and Nevada, which all cap edibles available to recreational consumers at 100 milligrams of THC. Oregon limits adult-use edibles to 50 milligrams but does not limit the potency of edibles available in medical marijuana dispensaries.

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California so far has taken a cautious approach in rulemaking, with regulators seemingly well aware of the fears around legalization’s impact on children. Edibles have come under fire in legal states after reports of children mistakenly eating them—and after a few high-profile incidents of accidental overconsumption, the most notable being that of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

Edibles have also become a favorite target of leery law-enforcement and anti-legalization advocates eager to demonstrate cannabis as a menace to the public.

There is, however, some support within the marijuana industry for THC limits.

Kevin Reed is CEO and founder of The Green Cross, one of San Francisco’s oldest legal medical-marijuana dispensaries. Reed has been petitioning the Board of Supervisors for an edibles limit since early 2015. In the meantime, he has willfully self-regulated and refused to sell anything stronger than 100 milligrams. If you wanted a Korova bar, you had to go somewhere else. “There is no medical necessity that requires that kind of dose,” he said in 2015.

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Hunter, at Cannacraft, said his company was preparing for an edibles limit, and because of that, “it won’t be too disruptive.” But he still thinks the ban on high-potency products is a mistake.

“There’s obviously a demand for high-dose edibles,” he said. “You might as well regulate it.”

Otherwise, he predicted, consumers may turn to the illicit market, undermining state lawmakers’ goal of transitioning to legal sales. “The regulated market is banning something people want,” he said. “The black market will absolutely go take care of that demand.”

Chris Roberts's Bio Image

Chris Roberts

Based in New York City, Chris Roberts has been writing about cannabis since spending a few months in Humboldt County in 2009. His work has been published in SF Weekly, Cannabis Now, The Guardian, High Times, and San Francisco Magazine, among others.

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  • James Mike Garcia

    I hope they do change
    this seems unfair to thoese that want try higher

  • James Mike Garcia

    1000 thc candy bar might be to string for me but I won’t know till I’ll try it

  • James Mike Garcia

    But I can’t if can’t get one

  • GentleTrunk

    Good ol’ california putting regulations where they dont need to be!

    • Kelly Edens

      EHHH, eat more. corps just need to reduce the price of their lower potency edibles by a reasonable amount to match…

      • GentleTrunk

        Still unnecessary regulation. That we now have tax dollars going toward, and forces companies to change possibly entire production lines not to mention cost for new required packaging. There is much more going on than just a consumer having to eat more.

        • Kelly Edens

          ehhh, I have to disagree. at least this way if anyone “OD’s” it will truly be because they are an idiot not just a novice. A lot of laws are just about peoples confidence

          • mister latte

            You can’t OD from cannabis tho

          • Kelly Edens

            true, but people believe they can, thus making them feel “safe” is a good thing.

          • mark_cuckerberg

            “Feeling safe” is how authoritarians take over.

          • Kelly Edens

            lol. I am not at all concerned with them saying “x” milligrams of thc per edible is the max. Authoritarianism is far removed from basic regulations. want stronger stuff? grow your own & make it, it isn’t that hard. I do

          • bean420

            If someone is cannabis intolerant, it doesn’t matter if they only eat 100, 5mgs can be emetic.

            But none of that should bar patients from being able to dose themselves with a non-lethal 10,000mgs if they wanted to! Eating more means spending more. A lot of patients were able to buy bulk and portion it off to save money. Now they can’t do that. And just because YOU can grow, doesn’t mean EVERYONE ELSE CAN. Maybe get your head outta your own body parts and you’ll see that not everyone has the same resources, or access to them.

          • Kelly Edens

            it is perfectly legal for anybody to grow up to 6 plants, so yes everybody can grow their own. I actually bought clones for 25 each, pots & soil were cheap costing me like 50 bucks with the fertilizers included the lamp cost me 30, so all told for my first lb or so it cost me 300. BTW, thc isn’t the medicinal compound so peoples ability to get high cheaply doesn’t concern me

          • bean420

            You are an absolute moron.

          • Calicorock

            In Seattle the majority of residents are renters. Therefore growing, is not an option. We had the same debate years ago. This is not about safety. Rather, it’s entirely about store owners being allowed to price-gouge for profits at medical patients expense.

          • Excuse me

            A statement regarding “price gouging for profits” suggests you have penciled out the costs of running a dispensary? BTW, no one can run a business without profit, since that’s what a business owner takes home to feed and house his family, to return capital into the business, and to maintain cash flow for daily operations.

  • Jackson Shredder

    This will fail like all the other miserable laws no one obeys. Let em feel important and we will go about our merry way !!

  • “There is no medical necessity that requires that kind of dose,” he said in 2015. (bull shit)
    If this were true there would be no need for 60+ mg er morphine. But there
    is a need so great that the big pharma produces them in this dosage and
    I personally have been prescribed 3+ per day for 10+ years. Then when
    people use it to extricate themselves from there situation of pain. Pain
    that the framers of this restriction cannot conceive. This is not a
    ligament argument.
    While I fully endorse the limitations to the strength of adult use.!. I do not
    see a crossover to the medical use.!. Not anyone can get morphine, so
    not everyone should be expecting to get prescription strength cannabis
    products. I see this as another blatant attempt to give this to big
    pharma And that is a thing that I am opposed to as they have cut
    themselves into all that I am against.
    Therefore as long as I can stay alive, I will oppose big pharma.
    And there attempts to steal everything from we the people.
    Cannabis is NOT up for grabs, to them that see only profit and not the benefit of the human race.

    • mark_cuckerberg

      Medicinal cannabis was never anything the lobbyists or supporters of the legalization cared about. It was used to get people to support it, to get sympathy, to support sick people and their freedom to get what they need. Now that they got what they want, our “medicine” is no longer that, but a party drug that needs to be controlled based on no science or reason, limited and over taxed.

    • bean420

      Amen! If you spend your money to become an MMJ patient, no laws should tell you what your max, non-lethal dosage should be, or force a restriction on the maximum allowable potency of any item. That should be up to the patient! Noobs on the rec side? Please FN cut them off. I’d be down to restrict it to 50, if they up the allowance in medical.

      I am seriously NEVER going to Green Cross, or anything that Kevin Reed ever owns, as he has no sense of what true medicine is, and is clearly more interested in being able to charge a maximum amount of money from PATIENTS!

      I don’t care if 1000mgs isn’t what you take, but if you want to save yourself money because that makes 20 doses for you (where 300 is 20 doses to me) YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO!

      • Excuse me

        All “medication” has traditionally had oversight into dosage. Most of the time, it is a considered limit made by well meaning individuals to prevent harm to the patient. Toxicology studies use the LD50 standard (the dosage at which 50% of subjects die) Fortunately, for THC, LD50 ranges from 1,260 mg THC/kg of body weight down to 666 mg/kg. Even going with the lowest figure, a 175-pound man would have to consume more than 53 whole grams of THC at one sitting to be lethal.
        That said, many people, at low doses, can have unpleasant experiences with THC, just like people have when they are placed on crappy pain meds like oxycodone. The problem here is this, in my opinion: Calling cannabis a medication invites regulation and limits. You can’t have it both ways and say, hey, I need this medication, but it’s up to me to decide my dose. Someone, and perhaps a misguided jackass, my designate levels inappropriately, due to ignorance or, in the case of the FDA, to protect the cash flow of its clients.

  • NorthernSky

    As long as you can still buy as much as you want, what does it matter if you have to eat one gummy bear vs a handful of gummy bears? This seems like an intelligent way to prevent novices from overdoing it (which will only be good for legalization) while also making sure that patients who need higher doses, for example, can still get it.

    • Bartholomew Bakr

      Next I think California should ban whiskey and allow for nothing stronger than Bud Light in liquor stores.

      • mark_cuckerberg

        Funny you can buy a 2 gallon jug of vodka at costco for $15, no one has a problem with that. Such a scam.

    • mark_cuckerberg

      Because one gummy bear costs $20 as it is.

    • bean420

      sure, why not buy four six packs instead of a case?! BECAUSE $$$ THAT’S WHY!

  • 360dunk

    I already limit my nightly dose to 10 or 15 mg THC. Otherwise I’d just be chasing a high and increasing my tolerance levels….where does it end? Plus it’s a groggy feeling the next morning after 100 mg but with 10 mg, the feeling is refreshing.

    • mark_cuckerberg

      Thats good, some people need heavy dosing. I need several doses of high THC extract oil a day, but luckily bureaucrats are making sure I spend way more for what I need.

    • Excuse me

      100 mg would have me in the hospital.

      • zoikerdin zook

        I usually take 150-175 for my chronic pilonidal related pain.

  • Excuse me

    None of this regulatory fever should be surprising, should it? California is an uber regulatory State. There are no activities in modern life a bureaucrat does not want control over.

  • norcalien

    Regulating is still a fluid situation. This is still new territory to cover. It will take a while before everything is set in stone. And as always, always subject to change without notice.

  • Rokerr

    I wonder if someone from the weight-loss business was on the board making these decisions. 25mg has been the starting point for edible dosing, so you do the math. I foresee Jenny Craig getting even more customers having to consume more FOOD to get the desired results from the cannabis. Leave it to the government to “help”. 🙁

  • mark_cuckerberg

    Commiefornia over regulating, taxing and ruining an industry while propping up Mexican cartels? How utterly shocking. Of course they’re punishing and taxing the medicinal people, we were just a political tool to use and now that the medical users have served their purpose to get the state’s hands into the cannabis industry, screw them. This state is the epitome of liberal authoritarian tactics.

    • Calicorock

      This isn’t a political issue. At least not until fascists like you try turning it turn into one.

      • Excuse me

        Actually, mark is correct. Your use of the term “fascist” is more apropos of liberal dogma these days. I know how you think, I used to be confused just like you Calico. Unfortunately, politics are very much a part of the cannabis industry. It threads its way through everything. Calling people names for having a different opinion does not change that.

        • Calicorock

          I call things as I see them. Apparently so do you if you truly consider fascism being anything other than what it is: an political ideology of the extreme far-right. Period. Check any dictionary, encyclopedia or, simply watch an (excellent) film like as 2017’s “Alone in Berlin.” Right-wingers attempting to co-opt etymology as it suits them, is in truth a hallmark a of right-wing fascism. Clearly, you watch way too much, Big-head Hannity Fox News baloney.

          • Excuse me

            Your use of the usual tropes, insults, and knee jerk responses suggest you are only pretending to call things as YOU see them. Just because ideologues spray a term like fascist around as a label, it does not mean their thinking is correct, or their use of the term is not inconsistent. Right-left is a measurement of government, not just attitude. The Fascist government allows private ownership of industry, the State dictates outputs and investments. The size of the State is the measurement. Fascist governments are still socialist, all powerful uber States. If you wish to discuss fascist dogma, no one is more representative that the leftists in America today, as they spew intolerance far and wide.