Deborah Agboola   |   March 05, 2021

The Science Improving Cannabis Edibles

Edibles have come a long way from the iconic pot brownie. New technology and innovations continue to improve this booming market.
Deborah is an inquisitive writer with a forte in technical writing. Her desire to enlighten and inform gives her the extra edge of structuring her writes to an easily understandable form, while retaining its technicality. When she is not…

Viewing the 2020 statistics on cannabis edibles: analysis shows that the edible market skyrocketed across the United States. The increase in market demand is presumably due to families – children and all - being confined 24/7 within the same vicinity. From this situation arose the need for the relatively subtle edibles.

Placing figures to this analogy, annual data from a Seattle-based cannabis analytics firm, Headset, shows that the sale of adult-use and medical edibles rose by 60% across seven state markets. Increasing from $767 million in 2019 to $1.23 billion in 2020, the edibles sector outperformed the total cannabis market that grew by 54% in 2019.

What’s Changed in Edibles

The use of marijuana is still considered illegal on the federal level; however, many states in the United States have legalized the plant for medicinal use and recreational use. With more favorable legislation and reforms along the way, we are on the cusp of a new age. 

As should be, the growing demand for cannabis food and drug development has presented several challenges to the FDA and related manufacturing industries alike. One of the prominent is the rapid technologization of manufacturing procedures. We need technologies that will not only boost the efficiency of production but also help meet regulatory standards as authorities move to control a newly legalized industry. 

Meeting these standards means improving control over products, which means improving measurement technology and other procedures and incrementally adding automation to other production systems. Hence, market growth is driving innovation and not just in the production of cannabis edibles alone but also in their testing and measurement.

Learning Better Efficiency

Analogous to every production process, increasing efficiency is one of the prime milestones the cannabis edible industry hopes to achieve. There are several ways to measure efficiency gains when looking to automate production. Of course, the first gain is the ability to produce more top-quality products. This is influenced by technologies capable of accurately measuring the stock material’s active ingredients, increasing their functional properties, and positively enhancing dosage systematics. 

However, one of the significant problems faced here is the water-insoluble property of CBD extracts. In as much as many beverage companies, such as Coca-Cola, would love to create CBD-infused drinks, there is no way this will happen unless by a well-effective technology - a point nanotechnology comes into play. 

According to Research and Markets, the global nanotechnology market could hit $125 billion by 2024. A percentage of this astronomical number is thanks to the application of nanotech in the cannabis industry. The innovation, which deals with creating and using elements with unique properties and functions due to their small size, paved the way for advancements in cannabis edibles processing using nanoemulsions.

Through nanoencapsulation technology, nanoemulsions have brought to life a new generation of edibles and topicals. With a technology that turns water-insoluble substances like cannabinoids into nanosized particles, companies now have ways to provide cleaner, more efficient, healthier, and more discreet cannabis consumption options. Its application is not just rendered in the product function alone; it also provides its consumer with greater efficiency via increased bioavailability

Where is the FDA on Edibles?

With the cannabis market migrating from the black market to the legal one, consistency should be its watchword if looking to make a progressive rise. As producers, standardization in composition, product availability, quality, and the likes should remain uncompromised. 

Thankfully, the research and development area of the cannabis industry is rising progressively with the market, so it is becoming more feasible to provide customers with more accurate data on the contents of a particular batch, a dire need that comes with the many new strains and cultivars arising. 

Nonetheless, with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill that nationally legalized hemp-derived, non-psychoactive cannabidiol, all eyes fell on the FDA to provide guidance on the use of CBD in food and beverages. 

It is important to note that the FDA recognizes the potential opportunities that cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds may offer and has acknowledged its significant interest in these possibilities. This is evident by its approval of the use of a cannabidiol-based medicine, Epidolex, in treating certain types of epilepsies. 

Sadly, they are facing a significant challenge: thousands of companies are selling cannabis-infused products without FDA approval, an excellent representation of “the horse is out of the barn.”

With the divided spectrum of rules guiding cannabis use, you really shouldn’t expect the uniformity that should exist. Nevertheless, we definitely need the FDA on this matter. The various state regulations present a magnanimous barrier to manufacturing industries because they must ensure compliance with each state's guiding rules if they hope to expand their customer base positively. 

But before the FDA can make a move on this level, it will require standard and more enhanced testing technologies and facilities at all stages of the product supply chain. Mind you, the benefit of this won’t be limited to the FDA alone; industries will enjoy it as well because, through better in-house testing and quality control programs, more products can be made from lesser input, maximizing safety, quality, productivity, and profits.

Another of the FDA's most common issues is the problem of mislabeling. In a report the FDA sent to the US Congress, it reported a disturbingly high rate of CBD products containing significantly less CBD than was indicated; some didn’t have any CBD!

Believe it or not, this is a problem the FDA can solve with standardized testing methodologies, seeing as the issue can stem from inter-laboratory error. While we await the FDA's move, individual states are tasked with licensing third-party cannabis laboratories, with many of these certified by the International Standards Organization (ISO).

Innovation and Improvement Continues

According to Kim Rael, President and CEO of Azuca, efficiency means meeting the needs of the target consumers. Consumers desire more precise, faster-acting cannabis products. They want to enjoy their edibles socially and feel the effect in real-time instead of having to wait till it sets in.

To this understanding, Azuca developed TiME (Thermodynamic Individual Molecular Encapsulation), a technology that tricks the body into processing cannabis molecules faster. This tech causes the molecules to bypass the liver and move straight into the bloodstream, reducing the reaction wait-time.

As the market keeps rising, several manufacturing companies are enhancing their research and development sector to meet the cannabis consumer’s desires. Because, in this industry, having a predictable and more controllable experience complemented by deliciousness and consistent dosing is the linchpin of successful, sustainable companies. 

 

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