The largest single dose of orally administered THC is now available for legal purchase in California, thanks to the cannabis concentrates producer AbsoluteXtracts (ABX) and what is considered by many throughout the industry to be a compassionate loophole in California’s cannabis laws. Accordng to industry researchers Arcview and BDS Analytics, California boasts the world’s largest legal cannabis market.
ABX, which is owned by vertically integrated manufacturer CannaCraft, has released a 200-milligram THC soft gel capsule. Though the state limits edibles to 10mg per clearly identifiable item and 100mg per package, per the strictures of Proposition 64, these gel capsules evade that limitation by technically qualifying as concentrates, instead. This allows for a 1000mg per package limitation on products sold in California’s recreational dispensaries.
“California Department of Public Health (CDPH) regulations establish three classifications for manufactured cannabis products: Edible, Concentrate and Topical,” says a spokesperson for the CDPH. “Products classified as Edible Cannabis Products are those which generally resemble traditional food and beverage items – in other words, items traditionally found in a grocery store. Capsules are classified as Cannabis Concentrates – a category established in state statutes which includes other concentrated products like tinctures and vape cartridges, which do not resemble traditional food or beverage products.”
While the capsules are able to be purchased for recreational use, the prevailing sentiment in the industry is that this separate classification of capsules versus edibles addresses an injustice perpetrated against medical patients that was initiated thanks to Proposition 64. Prior to its passage, there was no limit on THC dosage for edibles under Proposition 215, which legalized medical cannabis sales, cultivation, and use in the state.
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“We feel that this is an entirely appropriate distinction,” says CannaCraft’s Chief of Government and Consumer Affairs Tiffany Devitt.
“Capsules tend to be used therapeutically whereas edibles are used for both recreational and therapeutic purposes,” says Devitt. “Also, there is a lot less risk that a capsule will be unintentionally consumed by a child than, say, an-infused chocolate bar.”
Critics of the edibles versus concentrates distinction argue that it is merely a loophole, designed to get higher-potency products on the market for recreational users. Devitt says that the driver behind this nuance in the regulation was medical patients, something that is echoed by her colleague, Matthew Elmes, who is CannaCraft’s Director of New Products. Elmes notes that, in contrast to CBD, tolerance to the effects of THC is developed fairly rapidly in the human body.
“This leads frequent consumers to find that they require more and more THC to reach the same level of effect they are looking for, which can get very expensive for the consumer,” Elmes says.
“Our new 200mg THC high-dose softgel product is really aimed at people using THC daily for things like managing the side effects of cancer and chemotherapy including induced nausea,” Elmes explains. “Recreational users can simply take a short break from cannabis use to gain back their sensitivity to THC’s psychotropic effects, but medicinal cannabis users may not have the luxury of abruptly stopping their use without experiencing pain or discomfort. The 200mg softgels allows us to get higher doses into the hands of experienced cannabis users in a far more cost-effective way.”
The CDPH confirms that these classifications were designed with medical patients in mind. “Higher THC limits have been established for the medicinal market for both concentrate and topical product classifications,” the CDPH spokesperson says. “This provides medicinal users with a variety of product options and cannabinoid content levels to address their medical needs.”
The CDPH spokesperson says that regulations are based on the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA), the state law that established the cannabis regulatory structure. The regulatory rule making process includes venues for public input through noticed and defined public comment periods. Stakeholders can also provide input and feedback through surveys or public comments collected for Cannabis Advisory Committee meetings.
The 200mg soft gel product is available in single-serving foil packs as well as in five-count gel cap bottles. It is sold in recreational and medical dispensaries throughout California.