Edible Marijuana: A New Frontier in the Culinary World

http://scholarsarchive.jwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=student_scholarship

[By] Ariella Wolkowicz
Johnson & Wales University-Providence*
Dr. Scott Smith, Dr. Cheryl Almeida
Fall 2012
(pdf file)

Excerpt:

The Verdes Foundation was established in 2011 by a group of five individuals, three of whom are “qualified medical cannabis patients.” The founder and Chairman of the business [Douglas Speegle] is also a registered medical cannabis patient producer. Each of these members offers specific skills to the business. The founder has over thirty years of financial and business experience. He served as president and a board member of the New Mexico Bankers Association. An optometrist, IT developer, computer network engineer, and a landscape designer/horticultural expert with thirtyfive years experience complete the business team. Their medical edibles market grew out of their interest in providing patients with a longer, lasting, medically effective product that did not require smoking (The Verdes Foundation).

They grow the medical cannabis used in their products outdoors, at a high tech facility
under experienced horticultural direction. Strict guidelines are employed to produce a clean, safe product without pesticides or plant hormones. Different strains are used in the production of edible products to provide patients with the varied medicinal benefits. Infusion techniques are employed to extract the cannabinoids from the plant material using butter. Since laboratory
testing is not required by the state, The Verdes Foundation do not have their products tested.

Also, as a result of no state requirement, the dosing of their products is determined by calculation by weight. Each individual edible product is prepared to contain approximately ¼ gram of medical cannabis. This information is included on the product labels along with the other ingredients used in each edible (The Verdes Foundation).

Their product line which is composed of brownies, lemon bars, oatmeal cookies and an
Indica Chocolate “Sleep Cookie” is well received by the patient population. The Verdes
Foundation only sells products they produce in their dispensary and do not carry other product
lines to sell to their patients. They have developed their own label and use opaque packaging for all their products. Patients must place their orders in advance, either by phone or online. Pick up is on site or, for patient convenience, delivery is available for a flat fee. Patients are able to pay for their medical edible products using a credit card (The Verdes Foundation).

The Verdes Foundation has experienced growth and satisfaction in knowing they are
providing a much needed medical benefit to their community. They also choose to remain
committed to this market frontier and see greater potential for its growth as federal regulations
catch up with the states that have already recognized the need to legalize cannabis for medical
use (The Verdes Foundation).

*”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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My review of Verdes Foundation (1/31/2014)

(As posted at nmcannabisreview.com.)

Beginning in the middle of December [2013], I began trying out the Blue Dream strain from Verdes. Here is the description from their website: “Hybrid Indica/Sativa Cross (50%/50%) of Blueberry and Haze and was bred to provide the body high of an indica and the cerebral sativa effects. Provides a euphoric, uplifting effect at first and the settles into your body. Hallucinogenic. Great for pain, stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Effects are long lasting and she has a pleasant fruity taste.”

Now, you might be looking at the length of this post and thinking that it is just too long to read. But, I wanted to document the last few months of this Blue Dream experiment to give readers (are ya’ll really out there?) the whole picture. So, sit back and relax, we’re going on a ride here…

Let’s start out with the fact that I’ve never achieved a hallucinogenic response from marijuana, and that has held true for my medicating with this Blue Dream strain. Overall, I have liked this strain — it is not one my favorites, but it is right up there. When I first started purchasing it, the bud had lots of heavy resin, requiring the use of scissors to cut up. However, there is more than the usual amount of sticks and stems, reducing the amount of bud left to smoke and making it a more expensive strain than what its per-bag cost actually shows. It has a diesel smell and a taste similar to that of the Sweet Tooth strain from R. Greenleaf.

I was really liking this strain until it lost about half of its resin. Within the over two months I have been using it, it went from a strength of 6 out of 10, to about a 5. I have been offered a few reasons this “might” have happened from Verdes, and I have responded with questions — but in the end, I am still not sure why the strength has decreased over this time period.

We can look at this issue generally, stating that cannabis is a plant, and no two plants are alike anywhere in nature. Add this uniqueness to all of the variables in growing (too numerable to list here), and then all the variables within drying and curing — well, what you have is a simple fact: There will be a difference in your medicine every single time you make a purchase. It might be a small difference (what you want), and it might be a big difference (avoid at all costs). I have found that it is critical to take detailed notes for each and every purchase so as to chart the best course forward in making future purchases. I hope I am helping someone out there do the same (but, if I’m just talking to myself, that’s okay too).

I mean, let’s face it, this medicine is very expensive. Within the last 25 years, I have been on any number of pain treatment programs and, although they were all expensive, there really is no comparison for the amount of money I have spent (and am spending) within the medical cannabis program. I have come to treat my medicine as if it were more valuable than gold, which considering the large percentage of my budget that is only directed towards this medicine, even this comparison may be inadequate. You may think that putting so much value in a medicine is not a bad thing, and maybe it isn’t, except when one has to slash a budget, with few available options, I have found that my food budget is the one that’s suffering. Nutritious food is expensive too, and so my choices in the grocery store are now veering toward cheaper, less healthy foods. All in all, probably not a good trend.

Since I was not prepared for the amount of investment needed to be a member, I am hoping to educate patients newer to New Mexico’s program. While it may seem like a good idea to try every new strain, or to fully experiment with available strains, you are going to need a lot of money to do so. Within my reviews, I am trying to judge not only each strain’s strength, but how likely it is that I can afford it.

Some patients choose their bud mainly through the differences in the sativa and indica strains, so knowing whether your medicine is 100% sativa or 100% indica is important, just as important as knowing the different percentages in a hybrid strain. Unfortunately for me, this type of information has not proven to be all that beneficial, as I cannot tell the difference between a sativa and an indica. For shame! I know, but that’s the way it is, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

My one and only consideration is the strength of the medicine, and how much I have to smoke to achieve that effect. If you have read any of my other posts, you will know that I have a long history with intractable pain and, for the purposes of rating a medicine, it must be acknowledged that I have a high tolerance level, as well as high pain levels. In other words, what didn’t work for me, might work for many other patients. For those pain patients who rate their pain, for a measure of comparison, I would rate my pain levels to be, on average, about a 7 out of 10.

Verdes doesn’t post the THC percentages on it’s website, but I was told the Blue Dream was at 21% THC, 0% CBDs. I did not request to see the actual test results, but I intend to start doing so. Recent rule changes are supposed to include testing requirements, but so far I believe that only includes edibles. However, Verdes is one of the producers that tests bud on its own. There are no batch numbers, and although I’ve asked questions regarding the differences in batches, a lot of them have not been answered.

Even though I began using the pre-order service with Verdes for the Blue Dream strain, this didn’t help when I received a newsletter without Blue Dream on the menu. Communicating via email, I was informed that it would be a couple of weeks before this strain was back in the rotation. And then, a week later, the Blue Dream appeared again. It is important, as a patient, that you check menus at all the dispensaries every day, even if you don’t plan to order. Knowing how the strains move through the rotation will help with your planning.

Now would be a good time to talk about the difference on Verdes’ menu between big buds and popcorn buds. All bud is sold in eighths at Verdes, with the Blue Dream at $45 per eighth of an ounce, or $12.95/gram. (It must be mentioned that Verdes has allowed me to try out a few strains with just a gram, so you should ask about that.) The sales pitch I was given on the popcorn buds was that it was cheaper at $40/eighth and there were fewer stems (which is definitely true, especially in this heavy-stemmed strain). But when I asked why the popcorn buds were cheaper, especially if they had LESS stems, the young lady just shrugged. Through additional research, I found out that popcorn buds may or may not have the same amount of trichomes (which can equal strength) as the “big” buds. So, if you are as confused as me at this point, I would not be surprised. Regardless, I did purchase an eighth of the popcorn buds for the Blue Dream strain and was not impressed.

During the period of Blue Dream’s disappearance, I tried out another Verdes strain, Rare Darkness. It is supposed to be a straight indica at 22% THC. No seeds, grass/kush smell, low to medium resin. But, smoking it, the smell is different, yucky, with a taste like a milder taste of the disposable vape pen that Verdes allowed me to try. Strength was about 3.5 out of 10. I rolled 6 joints from 3/8th of an ounce, working out to be $22.50 per joint.

Don’t worry, I’m almost done…

My analysis shows that the different Blue Dream batches I purchased have worked out to cost from $16/joint, all the way up to $21.60/joint. Now I just have to decide if the Blue Dream strain is worth it.

Although I was told that Blue Dream was almost always in constant rotation at Verdes, on my initial visit, it was not on the menu. I only discovered it on a subsequent visit. And, the most recent newsletter from Verdes shows that the Blue Dream (big or popcorn bud) has again been removed from the menu.