Pushing higher

Medical marijuana patients asked for higher-dose edibles, and brands answered


Most commercial edibles in the dispensary today come in relatively small dosages: usually between 5-10 mgs of THC. Which, for most casual recreational users, is more than enough to get sufficiently high. 

However, for a lot of medical users, those dosages aren’t nearly enough. In part it’s because some patients need more powerful edibles to cope with their symptoms, but also because some people just experience edibles differently and need higher doses to feel medicinal effects at all.  

That fact has revealed a niche for extremely potent, high-dose edibles in the medical cannabis market. A niche that companies like Wana are intent on filling with products like its new high-dose gummies.

“Our goal is to offer a higher-dose, more cost-effective medical product,” Mike Hennessy, Wana’s vice president of innovation, says. “We really heard the call from our patients and the medical dispensaries that there was a need for a higher-dose medical option.”

The new high-dose gummies come in mind-bending 50-mg doses and in two flavor options: Exotic Yuzu (sativa) and Raspberry Limeade (indica). Both offer the same high-quality fruit chew flavor for which Wana is known. 

Wana isn’t the only brand pursuing products with this high-dose kick: BlueKudu offers a coffee that comes in 100-mg doses, and Cheeba Chew offers one edible taffy edible that is 175 mgs. Both of these products are sold individually, while Wana’s high-dose gummies come in packs of 20 gummies (with 1000 mgs of THC per full unit).

“Medical cannabis users are a very diverse group of patients,” Hennessy says. “The number of conditions that medical cannabis can be used for is huge, which requires a wide range of different dosing options.”

For many medical patients who suffer from chronic pain, persistent insomnia, nausea or inflammation, the standard 5- to 10-mg doses often aren’t powerful enough to truly relieve symptoms. That means they need to eat four or five or 10 gummies to achieve the desired effects — and then they’ve finished an entire bottle of edible gummies in just a few uses. That gets expensive and becomes unsustainable if someone is trying to use cannabis medicinally on a regular basis. 

Now, if you’re anything like me (a non-medical patient) 5 or 10 mgs of THC in a gummy is enough to put me on the moon for several hours. Because edibles break down inside the liver, they produce a molecule that isn’t produced when users smoke cannabis: 11-hydroxy-THC. It’s a special metabolic byproduct that makes edible highs last much longer and feel a lot stronger. 

However, Hennessy is quick to point out that’s not the case for everyone.

“Everybody’s bodies are different, particularly when it comes to how cannabis affects us,” he says. “What might seem like a very large dose to one individual might only be a minimally effective dose for another to see the desired medical benefits.”

It’s another reason why so many users (both medical and recreational) are seeking out higher-dose edibles. Biologically, not everyone’s body processes edible cannabis the same way — some feel potent effects at 5 mgs of THC while others won’t feel anything until they eat in excess of 20 mgs. 

“Then, the last piece of why these [high-dose gummies] are so important for medical users really comes down to the frequency of use,” Hennessy notes. Users suffering from ongoing medical conditions consume cannabis medicinally on a regular, often daily basis, he says. “That leads to higher tolerance for those users and that means they need a larger dose just to have the same effect that somebody using it less frequently might.”

According to Hennessy, there’s a trend in the industry toward higher quality, more effective THC medicine. But it makes sense, given the cannabis plant has so much medicinal potential. 

“Effective medicine has many different avenues,” Hennessy says. “We’re really looking at how are we using the plant in the most effective ways for medical patients?”  

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