From swoon-worthy chocolates to soluble powder spirits, cannabis innovation is thriving in Los Angeles. Pasadena cut the ribbon of its first cannabis dispensary last year, and four more shops are approved to open. When it comes to edibles, THC is the psychoactive ingredient that will get you high, and consumers are craving faster results with fewer side effects. “We’re seeing an increase in consumer appetite for fast-acting, nano-emulsified edibles,” says Ian Sharp, manager of Essence on Colorado Blvd. “These provide a quicker onset of 15 to 20 minutes compared to conventional edibles, which can take over 90 minutes to kick in.” Colorado-based Honest Marijuana Co. uses nanobidiol technology to shrink THC into nano-sized particles for faster absorption into the bloodstream. InstaMints, InstaGummy, and InstaFizzy offer fresh, fruity, dissolvable flavors that promise to work six times faster than other edibles on the market.
“Consumers are also turning to strain-specific edible products over the traditional ‘indica’ and ‘sativa’ labels,” says Sharp, who explains that as the public becomes more conscious of particular cannabis strain effects and benefits, name and provenance become as important as in wine or cheese. Santa Cruz–based Crème de Canna made headlines in 2010 with award-winning, cannabis-infused ice cream in flavors like Bananabis Foster and StrawMari Cheesecake, but its high-quality extracts in distinctive, strain-specific flavors are how the company is currently making its mark.
As cannabis consumption continues to grow, discerning palates are demanding more gourmet tastes and textures, as Crème de Canna can attest to, with more than six consistencies of its extracts, from “shatter” and “sugar” to “crumble” and “diamonds.” Launched last September, Culver City–based Cloud11’s handmade cannabis-infused chocolates look like two-bite works of art and are hand delivered locally with white-glove service. “I am a firm believer that local is better,” says pastry chef Manuela Sanin, Eleven Madison Park alum and Cloud11 co-founder. “For our Strawberry and Pink Peppercorn chocolate, we are using local Harry’s Berries from Oxnard. Their strawberries are naturally sweet and tart and absolutely delicious. They truly are a representation of what I believe a strawberry should be.” With what it calls “delicate dosing,” Cloud11 chocolates can be precisely customized with either 2mg THC and 2mg CBD (for relaxation) or 4mg THC and 4mg CBD (to boost creativity).
Edibles no longer even need to be chewed, thanks to Los Angeles–based Lively Spirits, which launched purejuana last May, the first cannabis spirit derived from fresh, flash-frozen cannabis flower. Each zero-calorie purejuana shot packet contains only full-spectrum, THC-soluble cannabis powder. Because it’s naturally alcohol free, purejuana promises no hangover. “Cannabis beverages are not allowed in some cities, including Pasadena, so infused powder and syrup mixes have gained traction as an alternative,” explains Sharp.