4/20 smoking weed

Celebrating 4/20, but Without the Smoke

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Looking for an alternative to smoking to get a mellow buzz? These edibles and THC-infused beverages might get you elevated just right.

Kiva gummies
Some of Kiva’s uplifting gummies. Credit: Kiva.

It’s been a month of sheltering in place. We’ve seen all the episodes of “Tiger King,” we’ve streamed all the best movies — that feature our lovely city — on Hulu and Netflix, we’ve baked bread, done yoga via mobile phone and participated in some epic Zoom meetups.

It’s 4/20 — heck, the whole month is technically 4/20. It’s time to get high.

But like most things these days, even getting baked has become more complicated than usual. For starters, inhaling smoke into one’s lungs during a time when a deadly virus is trying to enter our bodies through that route might not be the wisest choice right now.

Also, for newbies and relative newcomers, the wide variety of buds (flower), edibles and drops (tinctures) can be overwhelming. And some of those choices can lead to strong products that can bring on negative experiences and bad trips.

Fortunately, we live in the information age, so let’s get your ass high — the safe way.

Let’s begin our journey with Weedmaps, the Irvine company whose app and website many call “the Yelp of marijuana dispensaries and delivery.”

Lil Dicky $ave Dat Money
A screengrab of Lil Dicky’s 2015 breakthrough hit “$ave Dat Money” which was sponsored, in part, by Weedmaps. The video has racked up an impressive 143 million views. Credit: YouTube.

You may have first heard of Weedmaps in 2015 when it co-sponsored Lil Dicky’s breakthrough hit, “$ave Dat Money.” Near the end of the eight-minute epic, the local rapper sported a Weedmaps T-shirt. It’s fair to say both the startup and the performer benefited greatly.

Weedmaps Director of Public Relations Travis Rexroad said they have seen a 131% increase in the purchase of edibles during the last few weeks as most of the nation has been advised to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The shift from traditional pot smoking to the ingesting of THC-infused gummies, candies and other edibles could be credited to fears surrounding the mysterious virus.

“Over the last month, we have seen a significant increase in edible purchases and we’ve seen a down-tick in flower,” Rexroad said via telephone. “And I think a good assumption here is that people are taking precautions due to the nature of what COVID-19 is: a respiratory illness. When you inhale cannabis, it impacts your lungs compared to when you’re consuming an edible.”

But the spike in eating one’s way to a high might also be due to other factors, including little ones with curious noses.

“There are a lot of people who are sheltering in place,” he said. “Edibles are the more discreet way to consume cannabis. There are a lot of people working from home, there are a lot of people with kids, there are a lot of people living in close proximity to their neighbors in a city like Los Angeles. If you’re living in an apartment complex, it might be more discreet to consume edibles versus smoking outside.”

Weedmaps Los Angeles
A screenshot from Weedmaps’s website of various services in and around DTLA. Credit: Weedmaps.

One of the criticisms often lobbed at edibles is that while they might taste delicious, because they take so long to kick in, it is very easy to accidentally overdose. Not in a fatal way, but in an embarrassing way that could lead you to the emergency room in a panic. In the early days, manufacturers would create extremely potent delectables that were intended to be shared or broken up into pieces. That’s now changed.

“I think that we have been able to produce products that are a little bit more consistent in terms of what your experiences will be when you consume them,” Rexroad said. “Before, you might have eaten an edible and maybe the THC level was kind of an educated guess. Now we can get a little bit more prescriptive in the amount of THC that’s in one edible. Maybe that’s why we are seeing an overall trend toward people trying edibles.”

Rexroad also notes that there can be a stigma to smoking anything these days. Munching on some gummy bears? Not so much. That’s where a company like Kiva slides right in.

Kiva edibles
A sampling of Kiva edibles.

Along with Stiiizy and Cookies, Kiva is one of the top edible brands on Weedmaps, according to Rexroad. They produce a variety of low-dose products that create consistently chill results.

“Our Terra Bites have always been 5 milligrams [of THC],” said Christie Strong, Kiva’s marketing communications manager. “This was in the day when there were no regulations around dosing. Individual doses could be like 50 mg each. But our founders were lightweights and really enjoyed a subtler experience that didn’t give them that couch-lock experience. They could actually be social, they could be active.”

Microdosing, Strong said, is a way to enjoy elements of the euphoria fledgling stoners might miss if their eyes are at half-mast and they’re on the doorstep of the Land of Nod.

“When you have a low dose, all of these experiences open up that aren’t really possible on a large dose of edibles or cannabis,” Strong said. “You’re not going to exercise on 50 mg. You’re probably not — depending on your tolerance — going to do your best creative work. But when you have a light dose, you can get into this flow-state: your aches and your pains dissolve, your mood is elevated. And then you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m going to bake some cookies right now. I’m going to listen to music. I’m going to dance around my house.'”

Strong describes microdosing as an enhancer and not the main event. “It can make food taste better,” she said, “and make music sound better.”

And a small amount of THC can also keep couples from fighting?

“My in-laws swear that our Petra Mints — which are even a lighter dose, they’re 2.5 mg — save their marriage,” she said, “because they take one mint each and the little things that would normally bother them about each other, having been together for over 30 years, they can just let fly. You don’t sweat the small stuff when you’re on a light dose of edibles.”

Kiva Terra Bites
Kiva’s Terra Bites come in a variety of flavors featuring 5 mg of THC per bite. Credit: Kiva.

Kiva also experienced a spike in sales but the pandemic has forced the company to alter how they make the tasty, trippy treats due to social distancing.

“We had to scale back production of several of our flavors of chocolate bars because they just required too much close contact with the people making them,” Strong said.

Fortunately, the Petra Mints are made using a pill press machine and some of their other products don’t require that two people work closely together. “We’re just navigating these unsteady waters just like everybody else is right now,” she said.

CANN cans
Cans of CANN. Credit: CANN.

Speaking of water, maybe you’re the type of person who likes to sip your way to a light and happy buzz. And maybe you don’t want to wake up with a hangover, or any regrets.

CANN takes microdosing to a new low — in a good way. At just 2 mg of THC, 4 mg of CBD and 30 calories per can, the company’s founders say the goal is a mild, uplifting, gentle buzz.

“We’re really a product for people that are trying not to get high in some ways,” said CANN co-founder Luke Anderson. “They’re trying to have an experience of cannabis that mimics, in some ways, alcohol. It’s mild, it’s incremental, it builds but it never really gets out of control unless you really want it to. And so our product is not the product for someone looking to get high or looking to get high quickly — or cheaply for that matter.”

So it’s a guilty pleasure without the guilt?

“With a 30-calorie drink, our goal is to try to make it something that when you compared it to typical flavored seltzer water, it is just so much more delicious,” said CANN co-founder Jake Bullock. “But we care about it being one-third of the calories of a White Claw so that you can have three of them before you feel guilty about what you’re doing to your body.”

According to Bullock, CANN is for people who want to feel safe while being social. “As a brand, we have given so many consumers the assurance that they’re not going to get too high from our product,” Bullock said. “And, as it turns out, the reason cannabis isn’t as big as it could be is because too many people had that bad experience and they got too high and swore off the experience entirely.”

Despite the many brands offering much higher THC contents — some are 50 times more potent — CANN reports a 344% increase in mid-week volume in the last four weeks, as people are seeking a way to alleviate the anxiety that comes from whatever it is that we are currently in the middle of.

When we emerge from our lockdown, Anderson hopes the company’s products end up in coolers and picnic baskets alongside other adult beverages.

“The reason we called the company CANN — and it’s kind of a little bit on-the-nose — is that we put cannabis in a can,” Anderson said. “At the end of the day, we want to be that word that’s synonymous with this category. You may come to a barbecue and say ‘Hey, we got beer, wine and CANN in the cooler.’ That’s really the dream.”

Los Angeleno