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To Eat or Not to Eat: Edibles in the Tri-State Area

If Shakespeare were to reside in the present-day Tri-State area of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, I believe he would have been an appreciative consumer of cannabis. He was known to tie one on in his life.

Creative minds require stimulation and perhaps infused morsels of edibles could have provided a respite to the Bard’s needs. But in the Tri-State region, accessing edibles is a legal rollercoaster ride, a jarring comparison of up-and-down between legal and not.

What is apparent: The demand for edibles is on the rise across the U.S. and the legal status of cannabis in the Tri-States is uncertain at best. Shakespeare wrote, “Now is the winter of our discontent,” a memorable line from “Richard III.” Today, he might ask, “Where are the infused gummy bears, are they nowhere to be seen?”

These northeastern states have had a more cumbersome road to legalization compared with West Coast states. Presently, New York has more than 70,000 medical cannabis patients, New Jersey has 32,000, and Connecticut has 22,913, according to each state’s respective Department of Health.

Currently, New Jersey has six dispensaries in operation and allows sales of flower, tinctures, capsules, balms, and lozenges. Connecticut has nine dispensaries open for patients and has flower, concentrates, tincture, edibles, and topicals available.

In New York, the most populous of the three states, patients can access only tinctures, oils, capsules, and cartridges; flower, topicals, and edibles are not available legally yet.

But, even with no legal edibles available in New York, patients and recreational consumers continue to seek the cannabis-infused foods on the black market. Black market procurement seems to be socially acceptable in New York, where distributors have privately recounted that a large number of unlicensed edibles brands are thriving across the Tri-State area.

In New Jersey, edibles are not available at this moment. The closest legally available items that can be orally consumed are medicated lozenges. Candy consumers I spoke to have specific contacts and are aware of where to go to for black-market edibles. Some said they would like to see tested, accurate levels of milligram count in edibles.

Jade Sancho-Duser, whose RX Mary Jade is based in New Jersey, provides health coaching for patients. Sancho-Duser told, “I would like to see better education and information made available about safe edibles.”

Sancho-Duser offers non-intoxicating hemp CBD brunches where medical experts can answer questions and educate patients on the benefits of CBD infusions. She has provided in the past CBD yoga, vegan CBD cocktail hours, and has an upcoming CBD brunch on Sept. 30, 2018.

In Connecticut, where nine licensed dispensaries serve nearly 23,000 patients, shops are authorized to sell flower, concentrates, oils, tinctures, and cartridges.  But, again, only baked goods are available for edibles.

A few months ago, I was invited to a private party that took place in Manhattan, New York. The host knew that at that time I wrote for a publication focused on edible products. Upon arrival, his apartment displayed with about 25 black-market edible companies, each with their line of products ready to share, sell and taste. Each infused edible brand was manufactured illicitly in New York City. In a conversation I found that only two were tested, most were not sure of the milligram count, and all of the flower used to create these edibles were from West Coast cultivators. They were all proud of their product and felt that they were doing their part to support patients care. It was noted by manufacturers and distributors that black market edibles seem to be acceptable for most of the Tri-States.  New Yorkers will cross over to New Jersey for secret consumption sessions, often referred to as seshes, and those in Connecticut enjoy gummies and chocolate bars. Edibles within the Tri-States flow like the rivers that connect there three states. Seshes are the contemporary cannabis speakeasies.

The acceptance is here, and legislation is moving forward for these three states.  Initiatives and lawmakers are changing policies to accommodate the growing trends of access. Slowly but surely, the balance of edibles will soon find a place in the Tri-State region. The black market is thriving with edibles sales on the East Coast, and consumers find the transactions uncomplicated. Health professionals and legal advisers are more concerned that safety measures are not being taken into consideration. Overall, edibles are part of the path to the mainstreaming of cannabis to America. One day, edibles may flow legally within Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, just as they are connected by the waters of the Hudson River and Long Island Sound. In Shakespeare’s Othello, the villain Iago said, “Pleasure and action make the hours seem short” — particularly with a good, tested edible.

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