The quality of the edibles in this year’s Medical Cannabis Cup competition has improved tremendously, with more companies displaying lab-tested dosage information on their packaging and bringing to market more original, deliciously flavored treats.
Just as last year, products were rated with our state-of-the-art digital scoring system, designed to balance the qualitative evaluations of the human judges with the quantitative analysis provided by lab testing.
We humans consider the appearance, taste, potency, originality, and healthiness of the cannabis-infused edible, along with the packaging and information presented. The lab results reveal every little thing about the chemical composition of the edible, including milligrams of THC and other cannabinoids, as well as any potential contaminants like mold, E. coli, or salmonella, which you definitely don’t want in your healing medicine.
I generally look for a treat that is appropriately dosed, which means the recommended serving size delivers between 15 and 30 milligrams of THC in a portion that satisfies the appetite. You wouldn’t want a tiny truffle that needs to be sliced into razor-thin pieces because it’s too strong, nor would you want a giant frosted brownie that only delivers a small THC payload. Like Goldilocks, the ideal edible is something that’s “just right.”
Healthiness is also important, with still too many edibles makers relying on overly sweet products. There’s a world of savory flavors to explore as well, and I was happy to see an inventive drink, an infused beef jerky and a healthy hemp granola bar in this field of competitors.
Originality is often overlooked, but with dispensary shelves full of the same old brownies and cookies, it’s more vital than ever to distinguish your product as something new and unique. So bring it on, baked bakers! I want to see more salad dressings, savory dips and salsas, drinks and cured meats in our competitions, and let’s show the world that we are more than junk food junkies.
Blackberry Dark Chocolate Bar
River City Phoenix/Kiva Confections
This delicious berry-flavored cannabis chocolate bar comes in beautifully designed professional packaging, complete with lab-tested information stating 180 mg of THC. The bar is divided into four segments of 45 mg each, making dosing extremely convenient. Kiva offers the advice that “THC content is intended for reference only. Consult with a doctor to find a dose that's right for you,” which is helpful because every patient is different. I also appreciate that the package displays a large marijuana leaf, making it difficult to accidentally ingest this bar without realizing it contains cannabis.
Kiva Confections chocolates are widely distributed to California dispensaries, and come in a wide variety of flavors including Vanilla Chai, Tangerine, and Mint Irish Cream.
Now this is a fun idea for a ganja treat! SweetStone Candy “Rasta Style Giant Gummi Claudie Bears” come complete with lab-tested information that states 100 mg of THC, with a serving size of “one bear” with two bears per package. A 50 mg bear is a large dose, so perhaps a half-bear would be more appropriate for a cannabis-naive person. The gummies are sweet and fruity, with a texture that’s a little bit softer than the average gummy candy. While the packaging mentions “triple layer Rasta flavors," it isn't overtly obvious that this is a cannabis-infused food, so perhaps the marijuana content should be stated clearly on the front of the package.
Buds & Roses/The Venice Cookie Company
Nicely packaged with a professional label stating that the drink contains 72 milligrams of THC, and a complete nutritional information panel, which is always appreciated. Advises consumption of “half a serving ... until you know the effect of this product, wait a minimum of 35 minutes before consuming another portion.” Tastes like a great strawberry lemonade with a hefty hint of cannabis flavor. Overall, this lemonade is a nicely made, original product that can be a part of a normal, healthy lifestyle.
This granola bar arrives in beautifully designed, professional packaging, with excellent lab-tested information on dosage and potency. There's 125 mg of THC, with 2-4 doses per bar. That makes a recommended dose of 62.5 to 31.25 mg, which is within a realistic range for a patient.
This bar is focused on health and is “100% gluten-free / 100% vegan friendly.” An ingredient list that is full of very healthy, high-quality products including rolled oats, flax, chia, and hemp hearts. However, some judges felt the taste was a bit dry, too sweet, and overly herbacious with a decidedly pronounced ganja flavor.
The packaging says this treat was “created with the vision of a tasty, gluten-free medicine that also contains other edible components of the Cannabis Sativa plant to create a complete ‘cannabis edible’ experience.” It's nice to see an edibles maker using hemp and promoting its healthful qualities of being rich in omega-6s and amino acids.
From two-time Cup winner Captain Kirk, this Oklahoma Sweet Cake arrives in a gorgeous fabric covered canister, with a homemade label that gives instructions to “pour medicated caramel over medicated cake for full strength dose.” The cake is absolutely delicious, with three layers of moist spice cake sandwiched with chopped pecans and caramel. Label advises “Serving size: 1 Dose” with the confusing addition of “THC 5x and CBD 4x” but without lab-tested information, it's tough to know how much to consume. The competition testing done by the Werc Shop revealed a THC content of about 120 milligrams of THC.
I started by eating one half of the cake with a little bit of the caramel sauce, and enjoyed a mellow, relaxing effect. Other judges who poured the entire caramel sauce over the cake felt it was too much, however! This is an example of a product that needed more label information to really break through as a contender.
This is a delicious, stony product that just needs more complete label information and professional packaging to be a serious competitor. The flavor and potency met the judge’s expectations, but while there is a logo, basic warning and ingredients information, no other information for lab-tested content is presented. Serving size is listed as “1 - depending on weight and tolerance level of the patient.” The competition lab testing revealed 47 mg of THC, which would be about two servings for someone of my tolerance level. If you can find this jerky at a dispensary near you, check it out! Soft and chewy with teriyaki flavor, this is an original cannabis-infused product that a lot of patients would enjoy.
This cute little cake, created for 3rd Gen Family by Wendy's Weedibles, arrives in a pretty metal tin with a handle. The label lists "One Dose / 3 grams Cannabis 1/4 gram hash.” There's a standard warning label but no lab-tested dosage information, which would have really been helpful. The competition lab testing completed by The Werc Shop resulted in a THC content of 23 milligrams, so it would be safe to eat the entire cake in one serving.
The cake was moist and delicious, not overly sweet, with hints of banana from the banana pudding mix used to make the cake. The ingredients also list a “canna/hash grapeseed oil” along with cannabutter as the active ingredients.
Nestled in a cute little tin on a bed of crinkled green "grass," this is a nicely presented peanut butter cup, topped with a generous amount of bacon bits. Wendy's Weedibles made this treat for Hella High Extracts. The bacon overwhelms the peanut butter and chocolate flavors, but it's still a satisfying two-bite treat. Package says "One Dose," but there's no lab-tested information to make an informed decision about how much to eat. Listing "2 grams of cannabis, 1/4 gram hash, 1/4 gram kief" still doesn’t help a patient make an informed decision, since the potency of those starting ingredients can vary. We need THC listed in milligrams on the label to be able to make a properly informed decision. Our competition lab testing let us know that the Bacon Peanut Butter Cup contained a small dose of 9 mg THC, so feel free to eat more than one!
Alpha Mint Truffle lists "10x dose" on the label, and 690 mg of THC, for a 10-doses treat of 69 mg each. That's a huge dose! Our competition lab testing revealed a lower THC content of 394 milligrams, so there’s some work that needs to be done to make sure this edible matches the claims on the package. The Mint Truffle is a peppermint-patty style truffle, but with a filling that's basically straight butter. Try just a little nibble, since the potency is so high.
These whimsically decorated cookies come with a warning label, with listed ingredients and possible allergens. While the label claims “THC extracted from actual flowers (Buds) Not just trimmings, leaves, trash” there’s no lab-tested information about how many milligrams of THC are actually inside. The competition lab, The Werc Shop, got THC content results of 85 milligrams, so the label recommendation to eat a quarter of the cookie was pretty accurate for a safe dose. Lots of other warning information and advice is listed, including “Edibles can vary greatly in potency. Products often contain multiple doses or less doses of medicine.” Admitting that the product is imprecisely made is a big problem! Professional edibles makers should be striving for a consistent product. It's a shame, since it's a surprisingly delicious chocolate chip cookie with a layer of sweet sugary icing. I ate a quarter of the cookie and enjoyed the effect thoroughly.