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How edibles went mainstream

Published Apr 25, 2023 09:00 a.m. ET
Unsplash / Margo Amala 

Cannabis edibles were once a niche option enjoyed by only a few enthusiasts but they’ve come a long way in these last few years, emerging as a mainstream option that’s only getting more popular with time. Attitudes toward this category have evolved as the world has become more accepting of the industry as a whole.

Here, we’ll explore how this transition happened before touching on how this section of the market is likely to change in the very near future.

A rocky beginning

Edibles have always existed with a history dating so far back that it’s impossible to tell where it all began. However, many still associate these products with hippy culture since they first became really popular in the 1960s when hippies from San Francisco became quite vocal about their experiences with cannabis-infused brownies.

Those early experiments marked the beginning of this niche’s reputation as Americans became increasingly aware of their existence, but they didn’t become legal or widely available until much later. At that time, cannabis edibles were generally homemade with inconsistent dosing and low-quality ingredients, often resulting in uncomfortable experiences and even hospitalization due to overconsumption.

Sadly, the sudden streak of unfortunate incidents massively hurt the public reputation of cannabis-infused food, which is likely why they weren’t taken too seriously even by the majority of enthusiasts until they became regulated and more widely available on the fringes of the new market.

A mainstream trend

Today cannabis edibles are one of the most popular products on the market lending a mainstream status to the category, which now features an array of different types of infused food and drink options. It is not the fastest-growing segment of the cannabis market with sales predicted to surpass $4.1 billion in 2023.

One of the main reasons they’re in such high demand is due to the growing number of users who are actively seeking healthier alternatives to more common consumption methods like vaping or smoking. This aspect appeals to many modern enthusiasts who are concerned about the health risks of smoking, and seeking a discrete alternative due to the lingering stigma.

Cannabis edibles are also often a preferred alternative for medical patients with compromised immune systems, or physical conditions that may be exacerbated by smoking or vaping

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Another influence on the modern market’s expansion is the availability of expertly crafted products that make it easy to take a specific dose. Today infused food options are heavily scrutinized and carefully tested for things like purity and potency, improving their reliability, safety, and appeal.

Today’s edibles are no longer limited to traditional brownies and cookies. Now they come in a wide range of unique flavors, textures, and forms, including everything from common gummies, mints, and chocolates, to more elegant infused cuisine, staple pantry ingredients, and even beverages. With so many choices their appeal now extends far beyond the average enthusiast, as new users and medical patients with no interest in smoking or vaping flock to dispensaries in search of healthy alternatives.

The future is bright

Edibles are already undergoing a massive transformation thanks to innovative competitors and the expansion of the market. Still, there are more exciting changes on the horizon, one of which is likely to be low-dosed edibles, as they offer a safer option for new and inexperienced users with a lower tolerance. CBD and other functional cannabinoids are also poised to take front and center stage as demand for products that deliver specific health-focused benefits continues to grow.

Technology in this sector is already making leaps and bounds with no end in sight, so we can expect to see that trend continue as companies work to develop products featuring improved delivery and absorption rates.

One great example of this is nanotechnology as it’s already being used to make water-soluble cannabinoids that are much more effectively and easily absorbed, resulting in a brand new generation of bioavailable edibles. These products offer consistency and predictability unlike anything else on the market today.

Summary

Cannabis edibles are no longer what they used to be, as this mainstream option now comes in many unique forms on the legal market. With innovation, scientific research, and expansion the future of edibles is sure to be exciting and filled with new opportunities for consumers, entrepreneurs, chefs, job seekers, companies, and investors of all kinds.

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