Edible Marijuana: A New Frontier in the Culinary World (Minerva)

Edible Marijuana: A New Frontier in the Culinary World
(By) Ariella Wolkowicz
Johnson & Wales University-Providence*
Dr. Scott Smith, Dr. Cheryl Almeida
Fall 2012
(pdf file)

The Minerva Canna Group, also located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, grows all of their own
cannabis indoors, using the most up to date technology and techniques to regulate their
procedures. They grow their product 100% organic, with absolutely no pesticides or growth
hormones (Minerva Canna Group). The Minerva Canna Group uses Page Analytics to evaluate
and test their medical marijuana products (Briones).

The Minerva Canna Group was founded by Erik M. Briones in 2010. A degreed
horticulturalist and owner of Purple Sage Garden Center, who closed his business and retired
after the economic crisis in 2008, Briones decided he was perfectly situated to enter the medical
marijuana business after New Mexico began their medical marijuana program. As an authorized
patient, his education and expertise with botanicals coupled with his business savvy, gave him
unique credentials for entering this industry. He is the only producer of medical marijuana in
New Mexico with a degree in horticulture.

Meeting patients who preferred, or could not smoke marijuana, Briones recognized the
need to create edible products. His dispensary grows marijuana for medical purposes indoors,
organically, in soil as opposed to hydroponically. He grows plants of various strains to incorporate into his edible products so patients can experience the medical benefits provided by each strain. The cannabinoids are extracted through infusion processes into butters, oils,
tinctures, and vegetable glycerines. These compounds are used to produce a wide range of medical edible products (Appendix B). Briones prefers to mask the flavor of the cannabis plant
in the development of his edible products. Although laboratory testing is not yet required by the
state, all of Minerva Canna Group’s products are tested by Page Analytics in Albuquerque for
concentrations of THC. Doses are determined based on the Donald Abrams standards (Appendix C; Briones).

In New Mexico, patients are required to obtain their medical edible products from
licensed dispensaries. Due to this requirement, and other enforced New Mexico medical
marijuana laws, there is little to no competition in the medical edible market, contrary to the
experience in Colorado and California. Since opening its doors two years ago, Minerva Canna
Group has seen exponential growth. They started their business with no patients and now serve a patient population of 1,600. In one year alone, Minerva has experienced over 200% growth. The highly regulated market draws patients who have been diagnosed with one of the fifteen state approved uses for medical marijuana. The patient base tends to be well-educated, spanning across socio-economic boundaries, and an average age of 55. For brand recognition, they have developed their own logo which is incorporated into all of their product packaging, including the ingredients used and the dose of THC in milligrams for each product. No specific packaging or labeling guidelines have been established for New Mexico dispensaries so Minerva uses a variety of see-through plastic or foil-sealed bags, and bottles for their products. Over the past two years, their signature edible products have become popular amongst their patient population. Canna Colas, Lemon Bars, Cappuccino Crisps and gummy candies are patient favorites. For patient convenience, orders may be called in or ordered on line and a convenient pick-up location has been established in a more central location in Albuquerque. Patients cannot consume any product on-site (Briones).

Minerva Canna finds it is hard to keep up with patient demand due to the limitations the
state has put on the medical marijuana producers, which only allow for up to 150 plants per
dispensary regardless of the number of patients each dispensary serves. It is difficult to establish a bank account due to the current federal restrictions on the sale of medical marijuana. Despite these challenges and risks, Erik Briones is committed to this venture. He sees a real need and a real benefit for the medical edible marijuana business in New Mexico, and by extension, in the United States. His intent is to work within the guidelines established by his state to continue to meet the needs of this new and growing market.

*”Johnson & Wales University is well known for its Culinary Arts program but was first founded as Business and Hospitality programs. The university is the largest food service educator in the world. JWU is one of the top three Hospitality Colleges, according to the 2010 rankings released by the American Universities Admissions Program, which ranks of American universities according to their international reputation.” Wikipedia

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