May 6, 2021

Eat, Drink, Rub: THC Products Review

Our annual cannabis issue
By Lynda Wheatley | April 17, 2021

Progress, thy name is marijuana.

Despite what for any other industry would be major stumbling blocks — major disruptions in global supply chain management due to the pandemic and, uh, the not-so-convenient refusal of some governments to legalize sale of cannabis — has hardly registered as a hiccup for the world’s legal marijuana market. 

According to a market analysis report released last month by Grandview Research, a U.S.- and India-based market research and consulting company that serves Fortune 500 companies and academic institutions around the globe, legal marijuana is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world. In 2020, it was valued at $24.6 billion — and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 14.3 percent between 2021 and 2028.

Although progressive policies and indigenous-cultivation startups in places like Australia, the U.K., Germany, Israel, Croatia, Poland, Columbia, and the Netherlands are contributing to the global growth, the region driving it hardest and fastest is North America, with a 2020 revenue share of 91.1 percent.

With so much money and potential in this here continent's hills, cannabis-related startups, research and development, and manufacturing sectors are flourishing — and users are reaping the benefits.

Long gone are the days of needle-sized joints of shake, or funky-tasting brownies containing indeterminate loads of THC (or other mystery substances). Tech, government, and assorted weed-business visionaries have come together at this moment in history to deliver a breadth of reliably measured and seriously tasty (and even some tasteless) cannabis products, now designed to deliver specific kinds of high individual users might seek. 

Equally reliably, Northern Express is sharing picks for five locally sold recreational products some of our staff and associates have tried and favored enough to buy again. In no particular order:

Lume Cannabis Co.
Move Gummies
"As a 40-something mom of two energetic kids under age six, with a demanding professional job, I tend to avoid indica strains, which are more for relaxation and better sleep. I don’t really have a problem slowing down; I do have a problem finding enough energy to rev up to clean my house, work in the yard, play with my kids, prep meals for the week, etc. I’ve bought these Move [sativa strain] gummies several times, in several flavors, and I have loved them all.

They lift my mood and feel motivating — like everything is more fun (even the Groundhog Day repetition of “Mom, watch me! Mom, watch this! Mom, now look!”). Exercise and, specifically, yoga feel extra good. I’m more patient and engaged with my kids but not spacey or slow like you get after a couple glasses of wine, and not agitated or jittery like I get with too much coffee.

One drawback: These are said to give you focus, but I don’t find that so. When I take one, I do feel like the hamster wheel in my brain slows down, and I’m able to be much more present and enjoying the moment I’m in, but the idea-germination and mojo to move and play tends to dominate, so I can’t imagine sitting down to write an article or study, for instance. But again, that could be just me. Last thing: All flavors I’ve tried taste exceptionally good — not “weedy” at all — so even though they come in a childproof tin, I keep them in a locked box in our closet. I believe if a kid got a hold of these gummies, they would eat more than one."

A single tin of 20 gummies containing 5mg THC each, $22. Purchased at Lume in Honor. for other locations.

KIVA Confections Terra Peppermint Pattie Bites
Detroit Fudge Company Barracuda Bar
"I like to think of myself as a bit of ganga guru, and in the edibles department, I’d pretty much recommend anything made by Kiva. If I had to pick one, I’d probably go with their Peppermint Pattie Bites. They’re only one gram of sugar each, but the [milk] chocolate is actually really good, and the peppermint doesn’t taste fake. They also have no aftertaste, which I think is usually a big ask for any chocolate-cannabis edibles, and not all manufacturers nail it.  

Actually, another one that really does chocolate well is Detroit Fudge Company — their [Dark Chocolate] Barracuda Bar [made with 65 percent high-quality Belgian chocolate] is insanely rich and smooth and something I would eat even if it didn’t have THC in it. I’m going to pack a bar to make grown-up S’mores on a backpacking trip some friends and I are planning this summer.

What I love most about the Peppermint Bites, though, is the chill vibe they give me. They’re actually my Sunday morning ritual. Just one gives a good body and brain buzz but in a really mellow way. They’re perfect for relaxing with some music, a cup of tea or coffee, and thinking about the week ahead without getting me anxious about all I have to get done at work. The best part is that there’s no afternoon hangover, so I sleep great and am clear and ready to roll Monday morning. I recommend them over a Bloody Mary any day."

Terra Peppermint Pattie bites, $20 per tin of 20 5mg pieces, purchased at Dunegrass, Manistee. Detroit Fudge Company Dark Chocolate Barracuda Bar, currently on sale for $15.90, for a single hybrid-strain bar of 20 5mg pieces, available at Riverside Provisioning, Grayling or Kalkaska.

Michigan Organic Rub
Organic Lemon
"I’m an old retired guy who likes to work in the yard, and sometimes I overdo it. I have bad knees, a bad hip, sciatica — even my elbows hurt. I’ve been smoking [marijuana] since the ’60s, but I quit smoking cigarettes almost 20 years ago. After I had some heart trouble a few years ago, I was honest with my nurse about still smoking marijuana, and she recommended I quit using it or at least try edibles instead. I ended up going with this cream [MI Organic Rub] instead. It smells a hell of a lot better than the drugstore stuff I was using, and it isn’t greasy. I take a little ibuprofen, spread a little cream on where I’m hurting at the end of my day, and it really helps with the aches and pains, especially on my knees and hip. To be honest, this is the only cannabis cream I’ve tried, but I like it so much that I’ve stuck with it."

Michigan Organic Rub (shown here in Lemon scent; several other scents available) is an all-organic cannabis-infused balm that contains 300mg THC and 300mg CBD. $55. Purchased at Pincanna in Kalkaska.

Chill Out Fast-Acting Drink Enhancer (pictured above)
"I prefer edibles because I don’t smoke, and I like knowing exactly how much THC from which strain I’m getting, where it’s sourced, etc. I think legalization has been amazing for people who like or need to make informed choices about what’s going in their bodies. What I don't like about edibles is that they can take up to an hour or so to kick in. When I’m stressed or aggravated after a 10-hour day on the phone and in meetings, I don’t want to wait another hour after I get home to relax. It sounds high maintenance, but seriously, that’s exactly why happy hour exists for drinkers, right?

My favorite is this Fluresh Chill Out droplet stuff I found in Benzonia. I put half a teaspoon in my favorite after-work “cocktail” — usually a flavored soda water “spiked” with a splash of juice — and I swear that within 15 minutes, literally just a few sips, I feel calmer and super relaxed, like I literally unplugged myself from the day. I’m a runner with a lot of weird food allergies and very diet conscious. I love that I don’t have to eat sugary, high-calorie candy or cocktails to get that feeling. This is low-calorie, vegan, and has no gluten or dairy, which I can’t have. It tastes like nothing in my drink. 

I haven’t tried the Good Vibes version, but I plan to because I have social anxiety, and I’m hoping that might help when I have to socialize. For now, Chill Out is my go-to for when I just want to be home, quiet, and totally Zen before bed. Highly recommended."

Fluresh Drink Enhancers, $20 each, contain about 20 half-teaspoon squeezes (about 5mg THC each) per bottle. Purchased at Lake & Leaf Cannabis Co. in Benzonia.


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