What is the new cannabis infused foods, anyway? Carl’s Jr. provided this marijuana-infused hamburger in one of their Denver eateries on Saturday. 

The New Cannabis-Infused Foods

Marijuana consumers with a bag of munchies celebrated 4/20 the day that is the most famous for marijuana and ordered a burger that was infused with oil containing cannabidiol at Carl’s Jr. Restaurant in Denver on a Saturday.

It is believed that the Rocky Mountain High Cheese Burger Delight marked the first time that a large fast food chain integrated the extract of cannabis — made from hemp — into food items.

However, while there was a time when the Carl’s Jr. hamburger was a limited-time promotion however, there is a vast range of food items being created by using cannabidiol (CBD) and marijuana, with the franchise of a restaurant that plans to open cannabis-infused pizza joints across the country from coast to coast. Marijuana has been used for a long time in the food industry as a flavoring for people who wanted to be high but didn’t wish to smoke.

In addition to the standard “pot brownies,” the growing acceptance of medical marijuana which is currently legally legal across 33 states as well as Washington, D.C. -has created an industry that produces marijuana-based edibles. Gummies, cookies and hard candy filled with THC are on sale along with loose marijuana in dispensaries in which the drug is legal for medical usage.

Cannabis-based compounds have been lauded for their health benefits, ranging including pain relief and acne prevention, however some experts say there’s not enough studies conducted to understand the long-term and short-term health benefits of taking in regularly the compounds, either smoke or eating. A recent study identified the number of emergency room visitations in a single city were due to eating cannabis-infused foods , and the health issues that these food products caused.

Making Marijuana-Based Dishes

There are numerous professional chefs who incorporate cannabis into their dishes that they prepare, which includes exquisite dining experiences with multiple courses. 

Mindy Segal, who won the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Pastry Chef Award in 2012, creates sophisticated cannabis candy.

Michael Magallanes, who worked in Michelin-starred restaurants throughout the San Francisco area, cooks with hashish , and sprinkles powdered cannabis over dishes for private dinners.

The appropriately called Stoner’s Pizza Joint, a small pizza restaurant based within South Carolina, hopes to include CBD and, eventually, THC into its dishes as it expands rapidly in the coming years. The company’s plans are in part due to the rising demand for cannabis-based cooking as well as financial support by Sol Global, a Canadian cannabis investment company.

“I’ve been cooking with cannabis for more than 20 years, but the bottom line is it hasn’t been acceptable until now,” Glenn Cybulski, the chief executive officer and president of the company, as well as chief chef said to Healthline. He also states the fact that Stoner’s Pizza wants to become the first to explore the culinary aspect of edible cannabis such as mixing salad dressings with sauces, and pizza crusts.

A New Law Opens the Way

The 2018 Farm Bill passed by Congress removed hemp containing only trace amounts of THC — tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis — from the Controlled Substances Act.

This, in turn, has created a wide legal market for products that contain CBD extractions of hemp. Although THC is still legal under the federal laws, CBD can now be legally obtained across every one of the 50 U.S. states. According to the advocates, there’s numerous health benefits of THC and CBD including pain relief as well as acne-prevention.

So far, the Food and Drug Administration has only approved a handful of cannabis-based medicines. They include synthetic THC to combat nausea, as well as a CBD-based medicine to treat seizures that result from two epilepsy forms that are rare, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

In Europe there is a medication known as Sativex that has THC as well as CBD is prescribed to treat pain and spasticity related to multiple sclerosis. However cooking with cannabis is becoming more popular as chefs attempt to inform the public that dishes infused with cannabis can be healthy and safe.

Dosage and Pure

It can be an issue when cooking using CBD or THC particularly for home cooks such as Christine Manente, a Connecticut resident with an official medical marijuana card issued by the state and has used cannabis to reduce the pain caused by a work-related injury.

“I have a brownie pan that splits into 18 equal size pieces,” she said to Healthline. “I’m an extremely light person, which means I can consume half the brownies to aid in pain relief without wasting it. I’m not a fan of that feeling.” “Smoking does not translate to ingestion of edibles,” Daniel Winer, director of marketing for the Canadian retailer of cannabis Starbuds said to Healthline. “When inhaling through the lung, THC is absorbed immediately and disperses. In the case of edibles, THC-9 is turned to THC-11 once it has been broken into pieces,” he said.

“This is the reason why experiences with food are not just longer-lasting, but are usually more intense. If you’re new to eating, begin by taking 5 milligrams. Take a break for an hour following consumption to determine how you feel, then go further,” Winer added.

Commercially it is impossible to make a guess on how much CBD or THC is present in a bite of food, or even where the cannabis is sourced according to Cybulski.

“Our guests need to know that we have gone to a level of making sure the purity is there,” he added. He explains that Stoner’s plans to monitor every stage of cannabis production from the farm to the table. “Consumers want to ingest cannabis how they eat,” Andrea Drummer, food editor for cannabis MD said to Healthline. “They want to eat a full, complete meal.”

That’s why you should be able to offer THC in small amounts instead of one massive hit which leaves people stoned by the time they reach the second or third course. The top cannabis chefs are informed about the different varieties and strengths of the plants they make use of, says Drummer. “Sourcing plants is as important as sourcing a great piece of fish or an organic turnip,” she added.

It’s the same for taste as well as power, particularly when making use of the plant in recipes, she says. California Blue Dream cannabis tends to have a sweeter taste that is ideal for crème Brule recipe, for instance, while OG Kush can be more pungent and is often added to strong sauces, such as mole.

Preparing the Food, Heat It Up

Anyone who would like to cook using cannabis must first convert THC-A that is within the cannabis plant to THC, which is the psychoactive THC. The key is heat and it’s not a problem when smoking cannabis. When it comes to edibles cannabis has to be decarboxylated. That is done by baking it in the oven.

“Once this is done, you can do anything you want with your cannabis,” explained Winer. “It is edible immediately. We recommend infusing butter or oil with it. This can help to stretch the hemp and will make it more tasty.” “The key is to not let your oil or butter get too hot,” warned Winer. “Doing so will turn your THC/CBD to CBN, which has a more sedative effect.”

One of the niggles with cooking using cannabis is that, unlike other ingredients in food, the aim is usually to diminish the taste of cannabis and not to enhance its flavor.

“I was cooking with cannabis/coconut oil,” Kay Pointing, an ex-pharmaceutical company employee who was taught to cook using cannabis while living in the Caribbean, explained to Healthline. “It’s a very heavy oil but vegan and pleasant to cook with, and it helps to mask the cannabis flavor which can taint food flavors.”

As with numerous DIY marijuana chefs Pointing started making jelly and other hard candies specifically for medical patients, not recreational users.

“My friend’s father had terminal prostate cancer, so I produced tempting edibles to encourage him to eat,” she shared. “It stimulated his appetite and eased discomfort. The potheads are strong However, the majority of people who take it for medical reasons require less quantities in doses that are manageable.”

Drinking It In

Food and drinks are being made cannabis-infused.

Warren Bobrow, author of the book “Cannabis Cocktails, Mocktails, and Tonics,” is skeptical about CBD oil. He refers to it as “snake oil” whose effects (if any) are countered by alcohol. However, he believes in infusing beverages with THC.

“I suffer from Glaucoma. I can take medication in the form of a Negroni -it’s an icy Negroni,” he told Healthline. A mixologist with a mastery, Bobrow says the strength of a THC drink is a variable as can drinks that contain only alcohol. “It’s up to the drinker,” he said. “From mild to wild.”

A Few Cautionary Words

The experts have issued some warnings about the regular use of cannabis.

A study released last week examined emergency room visits that occurred between January 2012 to December 2016 at a major urban hospital located in Colorado. The study found 9,973 visits to emergency rooms which showed evidence of cannabis usage. Of these 2,567 visits, 267 were found to be at a minimum due to cannabis. Of the 238 patients, 238 consumed cannabis-based products in lieu of smoking or ingestion of the drug.

The study found that edible cannabis sufferers are more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders or intoxication as well as cardiovascular problems than other patients with cannabis-related issues.

“Visits attributable to inhaled cannabis are more frequent than those attributable to edible cannabis, although the latter is associated with more acute psychiatric visits and more [emergency room] visits than expected,” researchers wrote.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has highlighted certain advantages of cannabis products to treat conditions like epilepsy or post-traumatic stress orders. Then, in the course of her testimony during Congress in the year 2016, Susan R.B. Weiss, Ph.D., director of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Research, NIDA’s Division of Extramural Research, stated that it is crucial that more research be conducted into the effects of marijuana-related therapies.

“In general, adequate and well-controlled studies are lacking, which means that patients across the country are using marijuana strains and extracts that have not undergone rigorous clinical trials, are not regulated for consistency or quality, and are used for medical conditions with an insufficient evidence base supporting their effectiveness,” she added.

The Drugs Facts web page The NIDA says that when someone eats or drinks cannabis-related substances the effects from THC ingredients can take longer to manifest in the body’s brain as well as other organs as opposed to when they smoke the cannabis-related compounds.

The organization claims that THC causes the brain “overactivity” and produces short-term symptoms like altered senses, mood swings, impaired body movement and impairment of cognitive abilities. The organization also noted that marijuana use for long periods could influence the brain’s development.

“When users begin to use marijuana at a young age the drug can impair thinking memory, memory, and learning functions. It can also affect how the brain connects the brain regions that are required for these functions. Researchers are still examining the duration of marijuana’s effects and whether certain changes could last forever,” the web page says.