Marijuana in America: Colorado Pot Rush

Cannabis delicacies: 8 alternatives to the joint

By Celia Seupel, Special to CNBC

Cannabis delicacies: 8 Alternatives to the Joint

Sative Blondie Mix
Image Source: At Home Baked

When it comes to recreational marijuana, forget the joint! People in Colorado—both Coloradoans and tourists—are enjoying cannabis in all kinds of new ways. "Most people don't want to smoke," says Troy Dayton, CEO of The ArcView Group, a private marijuana investment and market research firm based in Colorado. "I think that the future is not going to be smoking of cannabis. It's going to be all the other things. So there's a huge, huge boom in alternative forms of ingestion."

Alternative forms include every kind of edible imaginable (candies, cookies, butters, cooking oils), vaporizer pens, concentrates, tinctures and rubs.

"People used to be afraid of edibles," says Bob Eschino, head of Incredibles, a Lakewood, Colo., marijuana chocolatier. "You would eat an edible one day, you would have a great time. You would eat the same edible from the same person the next day, and it would be way too much medication. Nobody tested anything."

Today, the law requires testing and consistency. Incredibles' product, for example, is tested for purity, potency and consistency at CannLabs in Denver. Another Denver lab, Herbal Synergy, tests product for At Home Baked, producers of cannabis-infused brownie and blondie mixes to bake at home.

Eschino reveals his dark and white chocolate magic on CNBC's new documentary, "Marijuana in America: Colorado Pot Rush." Legal recreational marijuana is revolutionizing business and society in Colorado. Catch the rush and click on for more cannabis goodies.

By Celia Watson Seupel, Special to CNBC
Posted 21 Feb. 2014

CNBC and correspondent Harry Smith tell the story behind this controversial and stunning development and report on the exploding legal pot market. Watch "Marijuana in America: Colorado Pot Rush" on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 10 p.m. ET.

Alternative No. 1: Cannabis baked goods

At Home Baked brownie mix.
Image source: At Home Baked

"We stink up our kitchen, so you don't have to stink up yours," says A.J. Ashkar, aka A.J. Hashman, owner of At Home Baked. Instead of selling packaged cookies or brownies, At Home Baked sells brownie, blondie and other mixes that people can bake in their own homes. Normally, says Ashkar, the activation of THC in the oven will create a smell that permeates the whole house. However, because his mix contains a packet of cooking oil infused with activated THC, Ashkar claims "the only thing you smell baking is brownies."

These days in Colorado, though, baking anything with cannabis has become easier and more accurate. Most shops sell cannabutter as well as cannabis-infused cooking oil and a portion of either of these can be substituted for regular butter or oil in a recipe. Some quick math will help the chef figure out how much active THC will be in each serving. Ashkar recommends mixing the ingredients very thoroughly before baking, then cutting the finished product into equal parts.

Alternative No. 2: Vape pens

Image source: CNBC

Vaporizer pens have become very popular with medical and recreational users. They are discrete and create very little smell. Users think they're a good alternative to joints and bongs.

The cartridge, filled with hash oil, is sold separately from the pen. To begin, you charge the pen by plugging it into any USB outlet.

Once the pen is charged, you can insert the cartridge and "smoke" it like an e-cigarette. As the user inhales, the hash oil is vaporized. Small lights at the bottom of the pen shine white as you inhale. They stay on for about six seconds, then start to flash to indicate that the hit is over.

In this controlled way, one cartridge provides about 50 to 60 hits, and the user knows how much THC she is getting with each hit. There's a window in the vape pen so that the user can see the level of the hash oil in the cartridge, so she knows when to replace it.

Alternative No. 3: Lotions and rubs

Image source: Apthecanna

The advertising claims these cannabis-infused topicals won't make you high but will reduce inflammation, relieve muscle and joint pain, reduce swelling and ease stress. Many people who use them swear by them. But there's still scant scientific literature to back up the claims.

Nevertheless, people like attorney Cheryl Smith, executive director of a medical marijuana clinic in Eugene, Ore., and onetime "total skeptic," find themselves convinced. Smith, who a few years ago researched the medical literature and published an article called "Topical Cannabis Preparations: Snake Oil or Healing Options?" has become a convert.

"It does penetrate to the muscle, I'm convinced," says Smith. Using an infusion of her own that she's had tested in a lab, Smith's own experience has made her an advocate. "All this is anecdotal," she says. "I question some of the products. I just know this one works."

Alternative No. 4: Cannabis candy …

Image source: CNBC

Three years ago, says Incredibles' Eschino, "the edibles and concentrate market ... was about 10 percent of the business. The last study I saw ... it's closer to 40 percent of our business now."

According to Brian Ruden, co-founder of the medical and recreational marijuana dispensary Starbuds, recreational edibles are all limited to 100 milligrams of active THC. It's easy to portion the candy and figure out how much THC is in each bite. And they taste, says Ruden, pretty much the way they look—like chocolate, raspberry or strawberry candy.

All the more important to keep them away from the kids! Every package, says Eschino, must be child resistant.

… Including every candy under the sun

Top left: Fireberry chocolate, top right: Green Hornet Gummies, bottom left: Blue Kadu chocolates and bottom right: candy bars
Image source: Incredibles Colorado (top left) | The Kine Mine (top right and bottom left and right)

Recreational cannabis candy comes in every variety imaginable. These are just a few sold by Incredibles in Lakewood and Kine Mine in Idaho Springs, Colo.

Unlike marijuana that's smoked, eaten cannabis products take about an hour to produce a full effect. It may be easy for a beginner to eat too much. Genifer Murray, trained in microbiology and CEO of CannLabs in Denver, suggests the beginner start with 5 milligrams of THC in an edible.

"You can't die from it," Murray says of overdosing, "but you can feel like you're dying." If you smoke too much, the effect subsides quickly. But if you eat too much, says Murray, the bad feelings can last for hours. She suggests that people who have problems with anxiety or paranoia might want to try edibles that have more CBD (cannabidiol) which is a non-psychotropic cannabinoid that, Murray says, "kind of curves the psychoactivity of THC."

Alternative No. 5: Shatter

Colorado Concentrate
Image source: The Kine Mine

While marijuana is about 15 to 18 percent THC, says Ruden, concentrates are about 80 to 90 percent. They are smoked in "dabs," a tiny bit at a time, vaporized in superheated bongs.

The bud, or flower, of the marijuana plant is dried and sold to smoke; the trim—the leaves and stems—is made into concentrate. At one time, the concentrate was hash, made with a process involving ice water. That was before butane came into play.

Shatter is a concentrate made by stripping THC and other cannabinoids from the plant and pooling them in a concentrated mass. The process involve using hydrocarbons, usually butane, sometimes carbon dioxide. The marijuana is suffused with butane under pressure, the concentrate drips out, and then the residual solvent (that is, the unwanted butane) must be evaporated, or "purged," from the concentrate. When the finished hash concentrate is hard and glassy, it's called shatter.

Alternative No. 6: Cannabis drinks

Wanna Cannabis drink mix
Image source: The Kine Mine

Drinks infused with cannabis come in the dry mix variety or already mixed in bottled flavors like pomegranate and orange crush creamsicle. blogger Harrison Garcia, better known as "Prospero," writes about his recipe for creating a cannabis-alcohol cocktail, though he says it's not something he would recommend unless you already have a very high tolerance and are "very responsible."

Garcia, a current customer service rep at Denver's Green Solution dispensary, finds that many people come into the store a little intimidated by the edibles and drinks. "Maybe they had a bad experience previously, like a friend cooked marijuana into brownies and they ate too much," says Garcia. He particularly likes the drinks because—in contrast to something like a cannabis cookie, where it seems odd to eat only a little bit—it's so natural to take just a few sips of a drink, screw the lid back on and put it away.

Drinks affect the body and mind at the same rate as edibles, but Garcia recommends eating something—especially fatty foods like cheese or pizza—to get the full effect.

Alternative No. 7: Earwax

Image source: Mahatma Concentrates

Earwax is a high-potency hash concentrate, like shatter, but made into a soft, waxy substance instead of a hard, glassy one. Mahatma Platinum Label Earwax Hash, shown here, is a concentrate made only from the flower of the marijuana plant, not the trim.

To smoke a dab, the user takes an instrument like a small pick and takes a dab of the earwax on the tip of the pick. Then the bong is superheated with a blowtorch. The dab is inserted into the superhot bong and instantly vaporizes while the user inhales the smoke.

Concentrates and dabbing are very popular, but ...

Image source: CNBC

Some people worry about residual butane and other contaminates. Others worry about the people who have blown themselves and their homes up because they tried to make butane hash concentrate at home but did not understand what "really flammable" meant. Still other people worry about those blowtorches flaring their great big superhot flames over bongs in America's bedrooms. And if anything visual suggests overdosing, addiction and crack cocaine, it's dabbing. Just when marijuana is starting to be accepted, people say, are concentrates going to nix the deal? Unlike California and Washington, instead of outlawing smokable concentrates, Colorado is working to regulate them. The results remain to be seen.

Alternative No. 8: Caviar:

Caviar hash.
Image source: CNBC

"This is one hit or quit stuff," says Ruden, holding the bud up to the camera. "You only need a little bit."

Caviar is like a concentrate, maybe a more natural kind of concentrate. It is the bud, or flower, of the marijuana plant soaked in hash oil, then rolled in kief, which is the dried resin glands of the plant, much higher in THC than the flower itself.

Usually, caviar is smoked in a pipe. "One small puff is going to be the same as smoking half a joint," says Ruden. "This is real strong. Primo!"

CNBC and correspondent Harry Smith tell the story behind this controversial and stunning development and report on the exploding legal pot market. Watch "Marijuana in America: Colorado Pot Rush" on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 10 p.m. ET.