As the holidays approach, Central Coast marijuana retailers say customers are blazing a new path to infuse marijuana into their celebrations: gifts of ganja.
„People are asking about gift baskets,” said Kristina Wescott, store manager at Monterey Bay Alternative Medicine in Del Rey Oaks. „We have a medicinal tea and some infused honey that can make a small but good (one).”
Salinas’ CannaCruz has also seen a blooming market of bud being bought for buds, said its owner Grant Palmer.
„Gummies are very popular, as well as flowers, for gifts. That’s something we haven’t seen before,” he said.
There are many ways to indulge for the holidays, from embracing edibles to trying tinctures — but dispensaries caution that everyone should keep some key things in mind:
1.) GOING GREEN FOR GIFTS
For those considering cannabis as a gift, Palmer suggests a hybrid strain, aka one that blends the sedate high of indicas with the energetic sativas.
CBD products as well as topical creams with THC, cannabis’ active ingredient, are good ideas for people who might not want to get high, he said. Everyone at some point experiences soreness, which topicals can relieve, Palmer said.
„After the gym, if muscles are tight, cannabis is a wonderful anti-inflammatory,” he said.
Topicals with THC won’t get someone high as long as it doesn’t have a special, „transdermal ingredient,” Wescott said.
A dispensary’s staff can point greenhorn consumers in the right direction for their ganja gifts.
Pre-rolled joints also can make perfect presents to puff, she said.
They’re ready to go with no extra work aside from recipients having to remember where they left the lighter.
„A lot of people are coming in asking about gifts or (doing) Secret Santa with someone who consumes,” she said. „… It’s exponentially more than last year. As I walk around the sales floor I hear it a lot.”
Palmer said CannaCruz also sells single-dose chocolates and other edibles, which can make great stocking stuffers.
But make sure those stockings belong to someone who has a medical marijuana recommendation or is at least 21 years old.
„It is illegal and considered a serious crime to give cannabis to a minor,” Palmer said.
In addition, using cannabis is prohibited outside of private property — that ban extends to anything in public view, such as a parking lot.
2.) HAPPY HOLIDAZE!
Whether that morsel of marijuana is for a loved one or consumers are looking to get into the holiday spirit themselves, there are some important things to keep in mind for safety.
First and foremost, inhaled cannabis can last for two to four hours, Palmer said. Edibles can take up to two hours to kick in and can last four to eight hours, he said.
„If you smoke and you need to drive somewhere two hours later, it will wear off,” he said. „An edible will not — (that) cannabis will affect you and make you not able to drive for the next four to eight hours.”
Drink plenty of water to stave off headaches.
Cannabis should also be stored out of reach of children and, when driving, in the trunk, Wescott said.
Overindulging causes feelings Wescott described as „uncomfortable, discombobulating” in most cases.
„You’re just wanting to feel normal again,” she said.
Palmer advises those who’ve used to much to remind themselves it will pass and they should eat something and drink water.
They also can take a dose of CBD, which counteracts the oversupply of THC to some extent, Wescott said.
„If you’ve taken too much THC and have CBD, use it,” she said. „It will actually bring that feeling down (and) cause a little more of a calming effect.”
3.) VAPING CONCERNS
The Centers for Disease Control has been monitoring an outbreak of a deadly lung disease known as e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) this year.
As of Monday, 2,506 people have been hospitalized and 54 have died nationwide, the CDC said.
Most of the cases are linked to vaping products containing vitamin E acetate and obtained from „informal sources like friends, family, or in-person or online dealers,” the CDC said.
„Dank Vapes, a class of largely counterfeit THC-containing products of unknown origin, was the most commonly reported product brand used by patients nationwide, although there are regional differences,” the CDC said on its website. „While Dank Vapes was most commonly reported in the Northeast and South, TKO and Smart Cart brands were more commonly reported by patients in the West and Rove was more common in the Midwest.”
None of the vape or e-cigarette products sold at Monterey Bay Alternative Medicine or CannaCruz use the vitamin E acetate.
„The vitamin E (is used) to try to mimic the viscosity of our products here,” Wescott said.
Buying vaping from a licensed retail outfit is safest, Palmer said.
„You should not buy vape pens from black market outlets,” Palmer said. „… You can always ask a bud tender if (the cartridges) have been tested for vitamin E acetate. Black market cartridges — no way to know if they’re safe.”
Salinas has three open dispensaries well as delivery services. Use https://weedmaps.com/ or https://www.leafly.com/ to check for nearby chronic.
4.) BRINGING MARYJANE TO DINNER
For those wanting a dank dish for dinner or a skunky snack as a New Year’s appetizer, cooking with cannabis is relatively easy, though sometimes messy, Wescott said.
But a key step when using flower is to heat it up in the oven to activate the THC, she said.
She suggests at least a half hour at 200-240 degrees.
But tinctures and concentrated cannabis come already activated, so they can be mixed in with most plates, Palmer said.
He suggests infusing honey, butter or especially sugar for use in a dish. But he cautions against trying to infuse meat — he remembers an infused beef jerky in which the chemical interactions caused a wide variation in how long it took to feel the effects.
Wescott said tinctures can also be put directly on food at dinners or parties, but she prefers to use a crockpot on low heat over four to eight hours to blend the food and oven-activated cannabis.
But one caution — that succulent skunk will stink up the home, she said.
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Joe Szydlowski is a multimedia journalist for the Salinas Californian who covers local government, crime and cannabis. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JoeSzyd_Salinas. He can be reached at 235-2360. Help support The Californian’s work: https://bit.ly/2Qo298J