Adam Stites: Marijuana edibles, let’s play by the same rules

Adam Stites, owner of Mirth Provisions in Longview, sent us another great guest post with his thoughts on the launch of edibles in Washington.

Mirth should finally start bottling on Sunday, Aug. 17 and I know Vancouver stores are eager to get his products in stock.

Check out his post below!


By Adam Stites, Mirth Provisions LLC

Adam Stites
Adam Stites

By now, you’ve likely heard that as of July 8th, recreational cannabis retail stores officially opened their doors in Washington.

And as the owner of marijuana edibles company Mirth Provisions, I’m as overjoyed as anybody. But hand in hand with legalization’s exciting new freedoms comes a hefty set of regulations, especially in terms of edibles.

So far those regulations are why marijuana retailers have few, if any, infused products on their shelves.

Per a June 25th “Emergency Rules for Recreational Marijuana” memorandum issued by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB), “additional clarity” is needed regarding marijuana-infused products.

That clarity comes in the form of rules that are wide-ranging in scope and outlaw a number of seemingly innocuous food preparatory procedures.

Most notably, “[a]ny food that requires refrigeration, freezing, or a hot holding unit to keep it safe for human consumption may not be infused with marijuana” and any marijuana-infused food or drink item that has to be pasteurized or canned is also currently banned by the WSLCB.

To be clear, I support the WSLCB’s approach; I think they’ve got our safety as citizens at heart, and I genuinely respect that.

That said, I also believe that each marijuana edible processor in Washington should be allowed to play by the same rules as any other food producer in the state. And the wholesale banning of refrigeration, canning and pasteurization — each of which is a routine and accepted food preparatory process — ensures that this isn’t the case.

I’d further suggest that disallowing Washington marijuana Processors the right to use these methods doesn’t foster “additional clarity;” instead, it muddles the state’s original intentions to make infused products safer.

As Hilary Bricken, a Seattle-based attorney at the Canna Law Group, recently told me, “The June 25th Emergency Guidelines were more political in nature than anything else. The state simply looked at the edible situation and decided that they didn’t want to deal with it — at least not yet.”

When I talked with Sarah Masoni, the Product and Process Development Manager at Oregon State University’s Food Innovation Center, she pointed out the danger in these new guidelines.

“Food systems in our world are sensitive to food safety,” says Masoni. “All of the processes mentioned [canning, pasteurization and refrigeration] are highly regulated so that people do not get sick when they eat food that has been processed improperly.”

In other words, the WSLCB’s emergency rules overlook food safety in favor of being overly cautious with cannabis, and I think that’s ultimately bad for both processors and consumers.

I believe that the WSLCB’s intentions are good, but their execution is overzealous. Marijuana edible processors deserve the same opportunities as every other food producer in the state.

Delaying the inevitable — the June 25th ruling is currently slated to expire on October 23rd, 120 days after its initial filing — only introduces more uncertainty into an industry that needs the opposite.

Currently there are few if any edibles on the shelves of any of Washington’s 26 marijuana retail stores — and this needs rectification.

Colorado estimates that more than 38 percent of marijuana retailer revenues are from edible products; infused products are thus a definite source of tax revenue for our state.

Despite the fact that Mirth isn’t yet in stores, my company’s products have been discussed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Show and in national publications such as TIME and The Huffington Post.

On a daily basis I’m inundated by retail calls asking when my products will be available for sale. I agree that consumer safety is paramount. But I also believe that, if of legal age, we should give the consumer the opportunity to decide.

To quote Bricken, the sort of “bureaucratic red tape” that infused products are currently enmeshed in is doing more harm than good to our state’s marijuana industry.

Adam Stites is the founder of Mirth Provisions, a Longview, Washington-based company that crafts cannabis-infused edibles and drinkables with high-quality, local ingredients. He’s also a pilot and marathon runner.