Furthering the mystery of the cannabis-induced munchies, adults with safe, reliable access to legal recreational-cannabis spend more money on cookies, ice cream, and chips than their counterparts, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Connecticut and Georgia State University reviewed high-calorie-food sales-data from states that have legalized cannabis, and a correlation was observed.
The retail-data analysis covered more than 2,000 counties over a period of a decade, from 2006 to 2016. Only states that could provide at least 18 months of sales-data for the period after a legalization amendment was enacted were included in the data review. Purchase trends from grocery, convenience, drug, and mass distribution stores were included in the analysis.
Michele Baggio, assistant professor of economics at the University of Connecticut, partnered with Alberto Chong, a professor at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, to conduct the data review. Most of the data was contributed by the Nielsen Retail Scanner database.
The Data Review
Immediately following legalization, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington reported an increase in the purchase of junk foods, specifically those of cookies, ice cream, and chips, according to the study.
Chip purchases increased by 5.3 percent. Cookie sales grew by 4.1 percent, and a 3.1 percent increase was observed in the sale of ice cream. While cookie sales maintained steady growth, there was a slight dip in ice cream and chip sales for a short time after legalization. Ultimately, an increase was observed overall.
“The increase in sales starts at the time the legislation becomes effective,” according to the study published in the Social Science Research Network.
Legalization amendments were approved by voters in Colorado and Washington state in 2012. The legal retail market in Colorado was first to explode, while the Washington market took a little longer to kick off. In 2015, Oregon joined the ranks of Colorado and Washington in the legalization of recreational cannabis.
“These might seem like small numbers, but they’re statistically significant and economically significant as well,” said Baggio.
The brands which saw the most increase in product sales were not reported in the study.
Originally intending to study the effect of legal cannabis on obesity rates, Baggio and Chong focused only on sales trends this time instead. Baggio said he plans to continue searching for links between legalization and obesity as well as other trends correlating with cannabis policy reform.
“I’m just interested in whether there are unintended consequences to the policy,” he said.
Why does cannabis sometimes stimulate a hunger response?
While the source of cannabis-induced munchies remains mostly a mystery, a 2014 study published in Nature Neuroscience suggests that it begins with an enhanced sense of smell.
According to the study, the sensitivity of receptors in the olfactory bulb of rats and humans increases with the administration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most prevalent psychoactive cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. This increased sensitivity to certain smells may translate into an increased craving for certain foods.
While THC is known to stimulate a hunger response, tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) is known to illicit the opposite response. Cannabis strains high in THCV are advertised as the go-to phenotypes for those trying to lose weight or at least avoid the munchies.
Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels
Girl Scout Cookie season is upon us! Rejoice fellow victims of the munchies! Now stop rejoicing and pay the girl at your door $5 per box immediately, or she’s liable to break a kneecap. She’s got more sales to make, and Girl Scouts don’t play! But, I digress. In honor of the sinfully delicious confections handcrafted by tiny Keebler elves and hand-delivered by even tinier child laborers, I present to you yet another handcrafted treat (with 100% less child labor):
Girl Scout Cookies by Denver Relief, which is a hybrid cannabis flower strain testing at about 19% THC.
Denver Relief’s Girl Scout Cookies is a cross between Durban Poison, OG Kush, and Cherry Kush.
In my experience, Girl Scout Cookies seems to be one of the more popular strains in Colorado and the West Coast, particularly California. Market demand naturally affects supply and, as a result, the availability of the eponymous strain has noticeably increased over the years. So when I say that Denver Relief’s Girl Scout Cookie is damn near the best I have had the personal pleasure of witnessing and consuming, please believe that my assessment comes after having seen a nauseating amount of the strain over the years.
The Girl Scout Cookies flower has a smaller, rounded pinecone shape that is quite dense and a dry texture that retains much of the flower’s qualities while easily crumbling between my pressed fingers. The texture, in other words, is indicative of a proper dry and cure process, which is what I have come to expect of Denver Relief. The flower’s primary color is a pale, light green, but this base coat is barely visible beneath a drizzling of vibrant orange pistils, a thick blanket of sparkling trichomes, and the occasional dark green, almost purple, spot.
Denver Relief’s Girl Scout Cookies has overtones of pine, diesel, and a bit of an earthiness and undertones of sour citrus. Upon crumbling the flower, I noticed the sour citrus aroma increased and a general sweetness emerged.
Consumption Method and Flavor
I tend to smoke joints, so that’s what I did. I prefer joints because I can repeatedly taste the flower, and I can determine how well the flower has been flushed by inspecting the joint’s ash—generally, the whiter the ash, the better the flush.
In this instance, the joint’s ash was almost pure white, signaling a thorough flush—again, I have come to expect nothing less from Denver Relief. The smooth, clean smoke reflected Denver Relief’s hard work, but the strain also seems to have its own mellow, flavor qualities. The flower starts of with a semi-sharp, pine flavor but quickly eases into a mellow sweetness that persists solo through the after taste.
Overall, I really enjoyed the productive effect of Denver Relief’s Girl Scout Cookies. The strain does not have a heavy hitting high that will make you dumber than June Shannon—I’m sorry I made you look her up—but, then again, no Girl Scout Cookies flower has ever had that effect on me. Instead, I immediately experienced a cerebral high that actually helped me focus on work while neither imparting much energy nor drowsiness; this effect was welcome considering I perhaps had too much coffee earlier in the day but still needed to get work done. Like a true hybrid, the cerebral effects were accompanied by a slight body high that tingled my extremities and made me feel lightweight overall. After about an hour, I still had not felt the drowsiness that so often follows a lesser flower’s high. Denver Relief’s Girls Scout Cookies strikes an exquisite balance between Durban Poison’s uplifting cerebral effects and Kush’s physical effects.
I don’t normally choose Girl Scout Cookies when shopping for cannabis because, as I previously mentioned, I often find the strain’s high to lack luster. Denver Relief’s Girl Scout Cookies, however, gets you high with a purpose. Instead of turning you into a poorly functioning, giggling buffoon, you will more likely feel focused, functional, and relaxed. If you enjoy smoking while working, I highly recommend Denver Relief’s Girl Scout Cookies.
Interested in trying Girl Scout Cookies for yourself? Support Denver Relief, the oldest operating dispensary in Denver, and consider purchasing from their store. Click here to browse Denver Relief’s current menu.
Holding a solid position within the premium cannabis vape cartridge market, Eureka Vapor has earned respect for the quality, great tasting cannabis concentrate cartridges that they produce. Eureka Vapor originally caught my attention because they meet my three main criteria for a quality cartridge:
- CO2 extraction
- No propylene glycol (used to thin out a concentrate and has an inconclusive safety rating)
- Strain-specific cartridges
For the purposes of this review, I selected the 0.5 gram Girl Scout Cookies (GSC) strain cartridge by Eureka Vapor.
Girl Scout Cookies was crossed from the infamous pure-sativa landrace strain, Durban Poison, and the genetically mysterious OG Kush. While the arguably unknown genetics of OG Kush often leave it categorized as a hybrid strain, the description of it’s effects often include indica-like body sensations. The effects of Durban Poison usually translate more cerebrally, with uplifting and energizing mental stimulation.
While Girl Scout Cookies has become well known as the go-to strain for popular rap icons like 2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifa, it’s potency may not be best suited for novice consumers. The power of the Cookies is however well-suited for patients and recreational consumers who seek long-lasting relief from pain, nausea, stress and anxiety, but still need to go about their day with normal functionality. Because Girl Scout Cookies often tests high in THC, it is also a great strain to combat appetite loss. Additionally, GSC’s high THC content may benefit patients with acute symptoms or users with high tolerances.
Although the Eureka Vapor cartridge packaging reminds me of something I saw once in the 80’s, the package construction itself is solid. So solid, in fact, that I felt comfortable tossing it in the back seat on my way home from Korea Town Collective. The concentrate in Eureka Vapor’s GSC cartridge is as thick as molasses and a beautiful, dark yet transparent amber color. These cartridges come in .5 gram, 1 gram and 1.5 gram cartridges. I prefer the half gram options. This Eureka Vapor cartridge is compatible with any 510-threaded vape pen that you may have laying around, whereas the larger cartridges seem to need a little more power to get a decent rip. Due to the thickness of this concentrate, consider your hardware when buying the larger size.
GSC is usually classified as a hybrid, but Eureka has labeled it as an indica. A Eureka Vapor representative shared the reasoning behind listing their Girl Scout Cookies vape cartridge as an indica:
“Our Girl Scout cookie strain is on the heavier indica side due to our original OG Kush being so dominant with Grand Daddy Purple, we felt it lead us to gravitate more to the indica strain. “
After connecting the GSC cartridge to my Bhang pen, I went out on the porch to enjoy a few evening tokes. I’m not sure if it was the smoke in the air from the various wildfires in SoCal or if people were using their fireplaces on that chilly night, but the taste and smell of the vapor brought me back to campfires and s’mores. It has the sweetness that many users may associate with Girl Scout Cookies, but perhaps even more so. It has an earthy, woody flavor that makes you forget that you’re vaping a cartridge, which is a testament to both the strain and the manufacturing of this cartridge. In other words, it does the strain justice. The vapor did not taste burnt nor synthetic and I experienced absolutely no irritation.
Even though I started to feel the initial effects within minutes after taking my first hit off the vape, the full effects built up gradually. The tension headache that had been irritating me for hours subsided and I was able to enjoy my Saturday night while being coherent enough to experience it. At it’s peak, the cerebral stimulation of this GSC faded into mental relaxation and left me feeling lighter with floaty, tingling body sensations. I see why Eureka Vapor labels their GSC as an indica.
One detail that might make consumption difficult for some users is the amount of effort needed to take a hit. You really need to suck! After some initial large hits, I continued taking smaller puffs for about an hour, hoping that the prolonged heat would help with the drag. Eventually, my face started feeling tired and it had nothing to do with the effects of the Girl Scout Cookies. I tried switching it to a larger, variable voltage pen and still experienced a lot of resistance. More experienced vape users may not have this minor problem.
The flip side is this cartridge lasts a long time. Between a few friends, we were able to pass the Eureka Vapor CSC cartridge around a rotation while watching TV and chatting. At the end of the night, it appeared as though it was a brand new cartridge. We definitely put it through its paces and were sufficiently medicated, yet it looked almost full. For that reason, this is one of the best vape cartridges I’ve experienced in terms of value.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this cartridge, especially for those who are looking for great value without sacrificing quality or purity. The folks at Eureka have clearly paid attention to the strength and quality of their product and I’ll definitely be repurchasing.
Among the more meaningful cliches regarding group dynamics and public policy is “a few bad apples,” with the connotation that a small number of dissenters from any group can tarnish or even ruin things for everyone.
In this case, that group is legitimate and legal cultivators, processors, dispensaries, and retail stores that play some role in the production and sale of safe, laboratory-tested edibles and cannabis-infused foods. Such marijuana-enhanced munchables include baked goods, energy drinks, hemp smoothies, chocolate, candy, and even flavored milk (a modern day twist on classic Indian bhang).
Also known as “medibles” when sold through medical dispensaries, canna-food has been all the rage in Colorado, and other legal states, for several years. The end of recreational cannabis prohibition in the state, which began in 2014, has propelled some Denver-based edibles companies to national brands and increased demand for edibles by a significant margin.
According to the state of Colorado, a single serving of THC in an edible is 10 mg. Those wishing to consume greater quantities for recreational or medicinal purposes obviously can eat multiple servings, often available in a single protein bar, cookie, or brownie. Popular options available in many dispensaries and retail stores in Colorado offer indica, sativa, and hybrid THC varieties of chocolate bars and other edibles, typically ranging from 50 to 100 mg per package, but sometimes reaching as high as 300 mg or more.
Edibles Underground Emerges
Amid Colorado’s nation-leading culture of recreational and medical legalization has emerged its own underground for edibles. Riding on the wave of demand for cannabis foods that has been generated by licensed, regulated, tax-paying manufacturers and retail outlets, a black market has appeared to compete with legitimate players (most of whom have paid significant licensing or permit fees).
Underground bakers and dealers are pushing unregulated — and sometimes unsafe — edibles onto the market. With no laboratory testing, no labeling, no guarantee, and certainly no certainty, both local consumers and tourists are risking their health and enjoyment when they purchase cannabis products from such disreputable sources on the black market, many of which could result in an unpleasant experience (a particular bummer if one is vacationing in the Centennial State).
Although an individual edible may contain hundreds of even thousands of milligrams (mg) of THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis that is responsible for its euphoria and significant medical efficacy, the suggested dosage is 10 mg. While some seasoned recreational consumers and patients might prefer and be able to tolerate a much larger dose, it’s an unwise move on the part of those who are new to edibles and possibly cannabis products overall.
It has been estimated by some dispensary and retail store owners, especially those operating in ski destinations, that up to 70, and sometimes even 80 percent of their business is derived from tourism. Due to the fact that the majority of these tourists originate from prohibitionist states where edibles are typically difficult to find and often relatively weak with respect to potency, the 10 mg limit is a safe approach for those new to the game. As the intelligent cannabis edibles meme goes, “start low, go slow.”
Nancy Whiteman, co-owner of a licensed Boulder-based cannabis edibles manufacturer, is concerned about black market edibles for reasons that go beyond dealing with more competition. Said Whiteman:
“There is no way really to know what the potency is of those products or how carefully they’ve been made.”
Sick Patients and Potency
Unfortunately, sometimes very sick patients, especially those suffering severe pain and nausea (often from chemotherapy for cancer or HIV/AIDS drugs), require especially strong edibles or concentrates to adequately deal with their symptoms or the side effects of the drugs they must take to stay alive. The problem, in most cases, is when medical-grade mega-doses come into the hands of casual recreational cannabis consumers, particularly newbies.
Another problem is tolerance building in very sick patients who use potent edibles to counteract pain on a daily basis. Such patients can require a dose that is several times more potent than what would be appropriate for a recreational consumer, even one with years of experience.
Jessica LeRoux, owner and operator of Twirling Hippy Confections, one of the oldest edibles companies in Colorado, defended those who consume hyper-potent edibles to deal with pain and nausea.
“They’re not eating these for the euphoric effect. They’re intended to get you through the day when you’re dealing with pain.”
She said her company has created edibles for patients with severe pain that have been as potent as 150 times the serving size suggested by the state. “We’ve been making customized cakes that can go anywhere from 500 to 1,500 milligrams [of THC],” said LeRoux.
Some patient advocates support black market edibles, despite the lack of laboratory testing and accurate labeling with information like strain name or THC content. Teri Robnett, founder of the Cannabis Patients Alliance, a reputable patient advocacy and educational group from Denver, said:
“The black market often produces higher quality than the regulated market. The potency levels are not restricted, as they are in [legal] recreational. Pricing is often much more affordable.”
Weigh Your Values
Patients and recreational consumers who value their safety and desire predictable, accurately tested, and labeled products — like they have become accustomed to purchasing at the local supermarket or convenience store — will naturally gravitate toward legitimate dispensaries and retail stores selling either their own in-house creations or those of major, emerging third-party brands. Such customers often value the fact they they are receiving not only a quality product with few unknowns, but also that their tax dollars are going to rebuild schools, pave roads, and pay for local fire departments.
Any time a popular cannabis-related product category arises, be it concentrates like shatter or live resin or edibles like chocolate bars, cookies, and hard candy, the chemistry lab and culinary renegades willing to operate on the black market will swoop in to offer questionable products with the allure of street prices that are often lower than those of the many reputable dispensaries.
It should be noted that it is legal in Colorado for citizens to make their own edibles and share with others. If no sales occur, possessing or consuming a homebrew pot brownie or other confection is fully legal and rarely frowned upon. In fact, it is part of what makes Denver what it is.
As a cannabis consumer, one must ask oneself if they are willing to break the law, risk their health and enjoyment, and deprive local schools of tax revenue simply to save some money on a THC-infused food product from a stranger that may be too weak, too strong, or made with dangerous pesticides or other contaminants.
For those who enjoy the benefits of safe access provided by a regulated and legal open market for cannabis products in states like Colorado — and who drive on roads maintained by tax dollars or have children in public school — it may be time to put their money where their mouth is.