Proponents of sensible cannabis use are thrilled with the results of a new study that has grabbed headlines: “Marijuana smokers less likely to be obese.” French scientist Dr. Yann Le Strat was surprised by his findings, but I wasn’t at all. There's so much yet to be discovered about our endogenous cannabinoid system, which regulates many of the functions in our bodies, including metabolism.
 

When the cannabinoid receptors are blocked, as in the case of weight-loss pharmaceutical Rimbonant, the pounds do melt away, but with undesirable side effects including suicidal thoughts and development of other diseases. Cannabis is the only reliable agent for appetite stimulation, which is potentially lifesaving for patients suffering from AIDS wasting, nausea or anorexia. It's clear that cannabis interacts with our appetite in many ways we don't understand, and I hope Dr. Yann Le Strat will continue to explore this field of research with a more open mind.   

           

While this new study can help dispel the notion of pot-smokers as “junk food junkies,” it only took into consideration smokers of the medicinal herb, not those to consume it orally for any number of reasons. And many cannabis edibles on the market today can certainly contribute to obesity if eaten as part of a regular diet. The average patient procuring edibles from a dispensary would find that products containing cannabis are often loaded with sugar and saturated fat. 

           

Some cannabis chefs feel that including sugar heightens the effects of THC, while others voice the opinion that THC binds better to saturated fats like butter. At the 2011 HIGH TIMES Medical Cannabis Cup in San Francisco, only a few entries out of 31 in the edibles category attempted to marry health with highness. (See “Healthiest Cannabis Edibles” below.)

 

When patients with cancer or other serious diseases seek out edibles for pain relief, as anti-inflammatories, and as sleep aids, they need options that will truly nourish their bodies and provide strength for recovery. Avoiding animal products, saturated fat, and refined flours and sugar in favor of a plant-based diet should be the first line of treatment for many degenerative diseases. Refined sugar contributes to an acidic pH level in the body, and cancer thrives in this acidic environment. An estimated one in three Americans will develop diabetes during their lifetime, so these patients also need support with healthier choices for edible cannabis products.

           

The market for healthy edible cannabis products is a niche within a niche, but it is growing as more patients discover the advantages of edibles. The simplest methods for ingesting cannabis are also relatively healthy, such as gelcaps and tinctures. Vegans and other patients seeking to reduce their intake of animal fats can infuse cannabis into olive oil or coconut oil instead of butter or milk. And the awareness of the health benefits of juicing raw cannabis flowers and leaves is also growing, so hopefully we'll see more dispensaries adding juice bars where patients can sip down a shot of Sour D instead of smoking it.

           

Next time you're shopping for a cannabis-infused treat, remember to make sure that the ingredients, nutrition facts, and potency information are listed on the packaging, and ask your helpful budtender for healthier, sugar-free choices.

 
 
Healthiest Cannabis Edibles

From the 2011 HIGH TIMES Medical Cannabis Cup in San Francisco:

 

Peanut Butter Carob Neutron Bar

While it's “so good you should save half for later,” one full size Neutron Bar serves up 20% of your daily value in fat, with 114 calories from fat. Compare this to a mainstream non-medicated Clif Crunchy Peanut Butter energy bar, which contains only 9% of the daily fat value, and 60 calories from fat. That said, the Neutron Bar does contain high-quality ingredients such as flax seed and hemp protein powder, and it's sweetened with brown rice syrup and agave. I also appreciate their clear labeling of potency, nutritional info and ingredients.

 

HeavenScent Organics Quantum Energy Bar 

This is the only product I've ever seen that lists “crystal energy” as an ingredient. This Quantum Energy Bar is beyond healthy, it's a veritable organic, raw, live, vegan, uber-food. The long list of over 20 ingredients contains more superfoods than a yogi's pantry, including hemp seeds, goji berries, maca, flax, spirulina, and algae of various types. Beyond the high-quality organic ingredients, this energy bar addresses the astral body through homeopathic principals, harmonizing your chi and raising the vibration of the chakras. Try it today!

 
Merry Toppins Gourmet Garlic Cannabis Olive Oil

Available at Healing Health Center, Fresno, CA

This is an excellent gift option for patients who are elderly or cannabis naive. Suitable for diabetics, this simple, garlicky cannabis-infused oil arrives in a beautiful bottle and can be used in place of regular olive oil in any recipe. This versatility makes infused oils an easy, healthy way to include cannabis in your diet. Exact potency information isn't provided, but 30 doses arrive in a bottle, and one tablespoon is the recommended dosage.

 
Gummi Cares Black Cherry lozenge

From Amaricann, available at Berkeley Patients Group, Vapor Room and Sparc, San Francisco

Some of the ingredients in this medicinal gummi lozenge may be objectionable, including gelatin, corn syrup and artificial flavorings, but the intention of this edible is to provide a easy-to-swallow, fast-acting, potent remedy for patients who may have trouble keeping food down. Amaricann, the producers of Gummi Cares, have infused 1.09 milliliters of concentrated cannabis oil into a tiny 5.5 gram gelatinous disc, and while no printed dosage is provided, the budtender's recommendation is to start with a quarter piece and wait an hour before consuming any more. It's healthy because it packs a potent punch into a small package, and doesn't add much to a person's overall caloric intake.