Since legalization in October of 2018 we have seen billions of dollars invested and lost by those who had high hopes to cash in on what was being called the “Green Rush”. After a year of recreational sales, numbers were particularly low in BC due to exorbitant pricing, products taking too long to reach consumers resulting in old and dry cannabis, recalls due to pesticides, mould or bugs, wasteful packaging, pencils in joints and bolts instead of cannabis in containers to name a few blunders. In the meantime, patients across Canada who wish to be in compliance with the law have had to order their medicine online, which severely hampers their ability to choose products that will help them alleviate their symptoms. As we come into 2020, the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club has begun taking necessary steps to acquire an exemption from the Cannabis Act, which would hopefully allow us to continue operating as we have over the past 24 years.
The second wave of legalization officially came into effect last October, bringing with it promises of long awaited edibles, concentrates and even infused drinks. Of course, we didn’t see any legal products start to trickle onto store shelves until December, and in some cases the new year. The regulations for “Cannabis 2.0” make it so patients like me could never hope to eat or drink enough legal product to come close to alleviating our symptoms, even if we could afford to pay hundreds of dollars for the same doses many patients have become used to in the Legacy Market. I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and buy some legal products to compare them to our own clubs strongest available relative products and the results further prove that patients requiring higher amounts of cannabis are simply being forgotten by Health Canada. I compared legal chocolates, gummies, cookies, and one vape to products available at the VCBC and the results were honestly a bit shocking.
I decided to start my reviews with a legal vape pen and the Aurora Drift: THC Sativa Blend disposable vape pen just so happened to be available at the legal store right down the street. I purchased it for just over $30 after all taxes were included which is what we sell our BC Trees cartridges for, the main difference being that the Aurora pen only comes with 0.15g while the BC Trees cartridges are filled with 0.5g. I wanted to be as sober as possible before trying the product so I used it first thing in the morning after waking up at around 5:30. The first thing I noticed was that it took a lot more lung power to pull through the pen than I had anticipated and it immediately made me think of friends with reduced lung function who would never be able to use these products. The pen allows for a ten second hit and then it automatically shuts off which only gave me what I would consider a small dose. The concentrate itself had a pleasant although mild effect and the taste was nice as well being blend of citrus, pine, and that traditional “haze” flavour. With excessive packaging and waste from disposable electronics it is hard to justify paying over three times the amount for the equivalent product at legacy market providers like the VCBC.
The next product that I wanted to try was the chocolate and this is really where the numbers shocked me the most. I tested three different types of chocolate because the 750mg chocolate bars that we provide at the club are my go to way to medicate using edibles. The three products that I chose to go with were Aurora Drift Dark Chocolate, Tweed Bakerstreet and Peppermint, and Tokyo Smoke Go. First up was Aurora, weighing in at 26g per package which counts as the equivalent of 1.7 grams of dried cannabis, meaning that you could only buy 17 at any one location per day. That means that I would have to visit five separate locations to get the same dose as our 750mg bar, and at approximately $9 per government chocolate bar, that would cost about $675. I ate all five squares of chocolate, each with 2mg of THC, first thing in the morning for full effect and started to wait patiently for any familiar feelings. Unfortunately, after waiting for 8 full hours to no effect, I needed to get medicated and had a stash of Green Haired Freak gummies so 440mg of THC and 2 hours later I was finally feeling relief from my pain. Both of the other brands had the same results as far as effects go and the Tokyo Smoke tasted absolutely horrible. I did share some chocolates with my family who would normally never use cannabis and my aunt and step mother both felt something from a 2mg square so I can appreciate that this will attract a lot of new users.
I want to take this opportunity to remind the reader that some of our patients including myself can and will ingest hundreds of milligrams of THC on a bad day to treat symptoms of chronic pain. Looking beyond the logistics of simply purchasing enough medicine to match our products, one starts to wonder just what it would look like to attempt to medicate with legal products when you require a high dose, and luckily I have crunched the numbers. The following numbers show just how much someone would have to ingest to get 750mg, the cost and nutritional info, as well as other things like how much dry cannabis it would be the equivalent of which is arbitrarily based on weight instead of cannabinoid content.
- Aurora Drift Dark X 75 = 1950 grams of chocolate, 12,000 calories, 525 grams of saturated fats, 600 grams of sugar, and 2100% of your daily recommended amount of iron. This would count as the equivalent of 127.5 grams of dried cannabis.
- Tweed Bakerstreet Peppermint X 75 = 2400 grams of chocolate, 14,250 calories, 600 grams of saturated fats, 750 grams of sugar, and 2700% of your daily recommended intake of iron. This would be the equivalent of 157.1 grams of dried cannabis, even though the dose of THC is the same as Aurora.
- Tokyo Smoke Go “Darkmilk” X 75 = 2400 grams of the worst tasting chocolate ever, 14,250 calories, 600 grams of saturated fats, 675 grams of sugar, and 2250% of your daily recommended amount of iron. This would again be the equivalent of 157.1 grams of dried cannabis all based on the weight of the food rather than actual cannabinoid content.
As you can see by the numbers above these low dose products are only useful for entry level users, and without high dose options available patients are again left out of a system that we fought for. With the Smith ruling in 2015 being the catalyst that ultimately allowed for legal edibles, concentrates, and topicals, it seems hypocritical and downright insulting to ignore the needs of thousands of patients across the country. We have the right to quality of life and in my opinion that should include access to high dose products at affordable prices, especially edibles because we all know that there is a huge difference mentally between swallowing capsules and eating decadent chocolate!
Next up I wanted to try some cookies so I grabbed some Aurora chocolate chip cookies and put them up against the 300mg Chocolate Salty Dogs available at the VCBC. Auroras cookies come in packs of two, weighing 40 grams total and containing 170 calories, 2.5 grams of saturated fats, and 15 grams of sugar. They were pleasant enough tasting but of course had no effect on a seasoned user, leading me to eat the Chocolate Salty Dog hours later and relieve my fibromyalgia pain. To get the same dose that I got from the 300mg cookie, I would have to have eaten 30 packages of cookies, weighing over 1200 grams and containing 5100 calories, 75 grams of saturated fats, 450 grams of sugar and would count as 81 grams of dried cannabis.
Lastly I purchased some Foray Raspberry Vanilla gummies to compare to the legendary Green Haired Freak Double Dose Root Beer 160mg gummies available through the club. The Foray gummies were tasty enough but alas, 10mg just doesn’t cut it, and I happily tucked into a root beer gummy which just took the edge off of my back pain caused by sleeping on an air mattress over the holidays. I will mention that Io bought the mints by Aurora but they were really hard and basically just compressed chemicals with a tiny bit of THC in them so I gave them away after reading the ingredients.
The entire experience of purchasing legal edibles, struggling with unnecessarily bulky and restrictive packaging, having no guidance whatsoever from legal budtenders as far as possible effects, nonsensical math when it comes to dried cannabis equivalency, and spending entirely too much money for products that come nowhere near meeting the high standards set by the legacy market over the past decades, was dehumanizing to say the least! Luckily the experience is over now and I won’t have to waste any more of my hard earned money on “Cannabis 2.0” products. I do hope that the VCBC will be successful in obtaining an exemption from the Cannabis Act and maybe then we can foster the change to a proper medicinal market for patients across Canada!