San Francisco's foodies are bringing new tastes and sensibilities to eating marijuana
"The idea is we can be helping an edibles producer or a tincture maker quantify the cannabis in the product," said Anna Ray Grabstein, CEO of Steep Hill Laboratory in Oakland, which tests cannabis and related products for strength and purity. "They're able to use that information to create consistency in their recipes."
It's been difficult to meet the rising demand given the current legal framework.
"Yes, we would love to scale up. I'd love it if more people had access to our product. We'd love to sell it outside of California," Jay said. "But it's tricky because there's so many gray areas,"
Larry Kessler is the program manager for the San Francisco Department of Public Health's Medical Cannabis Dispensary Inspection Program, which reviews the procedures of edibles makers and requires those who work with one than one dispensary to get a certified food handler license from the state.
"We just want to make sure they know what they're doing," Kessler told us.
San Francisco has some unique rules, banning edibles that require refrigeration or other special handling, granting exceptions on a case-by-case basis. Unlike Oakland and some other jurisdictions, San Francisco also requires edibles to be in opaque packaging. "It was to get rid of the visual appeal to children," he explains.
All the edible makers say they can live with those local rules, and they praise San Francisco as a model county for medical marijuana regulation. The problem is that state law doesn't allow them to be independent businesses.
"It's against state law. There's no wholesaling allowed, and that's a big issue around edibles," Kessler said. "It's a complicated issue."
All the edibles makers in this story say they are barely getting by financially, and all have other jobs to support themselves. Jay says she's thought about giving up many times, but she's been motivated by stories they're heard from customers about the almost miraculous curative properties of their products, particularly from patients with cancer and other serious illnesses.
"I get an e-mail like this and then it's back to the kitchen," Jay said, referring to a letter from a customer who credits her with saving his life. "There are so many positive properties it has. There's really no other plant like it."