Pot May be the New “Sugar”: The Rise of Cannabis Chocolate

The combination of sugar and chocolate used to be the most pleasing with sugar consumption skyrocketing, mostly through the consumption of chocolate. Now the combination of chocolate and marijuana is beginning to have the same effect. Sugar was initially added to beverages such as tea and coffee and grew more popular after joining with chocolate. The historic consumption curve of sugar can be used to predict future marijuana consumption. Pot could become the sugar of this century. Similar to sugar and chocolate, marijuana has taken on medicinal uses. Its legalization in many states is analogous to when sugar became cheaper and more readily available. A n expanded market of people now can partake in chocolate and pot in cannabis chocolates. With the combination of marijuana and chocolate entering the market, its uses are similar to sugar’s, which is also often added to chocolate and cacao is becoming a conduit for a new type of drug as edibles sales are on the rise. The similarities between sugar and cannabis do not end there because their uses extend beyond just their addition to chocolate, such as expansion and marketing strategies. Noting this parallel between sugar and marijuana is helpful in considering how cannabis may be used in the future, perhaps being added to drinks or facial creams to appeal to a broader audience and create a pot revolution. 

Sugar was thought to have medicinal properties, which aided in its mass consumption and demand. When sugar first entered diets, the majority of English people did not consume enough food or the right kinds of food. They suffered nutritional deficiencies due to lack of income or food safety. However, cane sugar started as a luxury and supplemented their diets (Coe & Coe, 2013). Sugar was seen as medicinal, as it was an ingredient in many medicines and could be applied to open wounds (Coe & Coe, 2013). The taste was pleasing, and some would use it to help consume their bitter medicine. The movie Mary Poppins depicts how sugar played a role in a health context.

The lyrics “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” explain how sugar can sweeten the bitter taste of medicine and improve mood afterwards. Demand grew and production expanded; eventually sugar became cheaper and more available. It was added to cereal in breakfast, trail mix in afternoon snacks, salad dressing, and many beverages. In 1910, one-fifth of the English diet calories came from cane sugar (Martin, 2019). Although sugar today is seen as contributing to the obesity epidemic in America, its medicinal properties aided in its wide popularity historically, and one of the favorite things it was added to was chocolate beverages and bars. Before comparing sugar to cannabis, it is important to provide context for one of the ways in which sugar has been used.

Marijuana also has served medicinal purposes. The whole marijuana plant or just extracts can be used to treat specific sicknesses. There are chemicals in marijuana called cannabinoids. The main psychoactive ingredient is delta 0 tetrahydrocannabinol, abbreviated THC, that gives people a “high” (Huddelston, 2019). Chocolate contains cannabinoid and anandamide, a neurotransmitter that affects the same structure as THC in Cannabis (Parker et al., 2006). Cannabidiol CBD, on the other hand, is in marijuana from the hemp plant but does not cause a high” (Huddelston, 2019). These properties of marijuana have led to two FDA-approved medications that contain cannabinoid and used to relieve anxiety, chronic pain, seizures, and acne. Animal studies have even shown that parts of marijuana can help kill cancer cells (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018). Marijuana has been recognized for nutritional benefits as have chocolate and sugar; it is accepted as a way to treat specific illnesses and is featured in many medications.

It is perhaps logical then that the food to which sugar and marijuana have been added has a similar relation to medicine. Chocolate also was believed to have medicinal properties as it contains antioxidants and can improve mood. Mesoamericans acknowledged chocolate as healthy. Mayan warriors would wear cacao pods on their belt to give them energy for battle (Martin, 2019). Also, it was used as medicine to treat seizures and fevers. Cacao could be combined with many ingredients, such as pepper and honey, to form botanical remedies (Coe & Coe, 2013). The Spanish even thought that chocolate had the potential to increase chances of becoming pregnant so it was used in many rituals. Cacao was seen as nourishing and still is thought to have aphrodisiac qualities. Men gift it to women on Valentine’s Day for this reason. Sugar and chocolate both developed their popularity partly due to the medicinal properties associated with their consumption.

While sugar and chocolate may seem different from a drug like marijuana, they have addictive properties and chocolate could be considered a drug. Chocolate affects neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin that deal with mood regulation and appetite. It contains flavenols, a physiologically active plant compound (Mintz, 1986). Flavenols in cocoa can help with cardiovascular diseases and blood clotting. In addition, caffeine and theobromine affect consumers psychologically (Mintz, 1986). Although the amount of anandamide is minuscule, chocolate is so addicting and mind altering that some do consider it a drug. A Belgian chocolatier Dominique Persoone even created a device to snort cocoa powder as one would do to intake a drug (Youtube, 2010).

The video shows how the chocolate shooter can be used by putting cocoa snuff powder on the spoon and catapulting it into the nose to create a chocolate high. Chocolate has many drug-like properties and it makes for the perfect delicious addition to conceal the weed flavor of cannabis.

The mixture incites calm, happy feelings as shown in this meme (Davidwolfe, 2015).

The demand for recreational marijuana is growing, and the combination of cannabis and chocolate is a popular one. Just as sugar and chocolate had medicinal properties and were combined, marijuana and chocolate are now being added together.

In the same way that sugar and chocolate were viewed as medicinal and a dietary supplement for the British, cannabis chocolate is being marketed as a health product. One example of a cannabis chocolate brand is “Good Vibes” (Freeman, 2019).

The label shows a beach and indicates the relaxed feeling that comes with consuming the delicious product.

There are several other similar successful brands, such as “Therapeutic” and “Leif Goods.” “This is Not Pot” targets consumers by playing up the health benefits of the product.

The edibles are sold in a vitamin-like container (Vegan CBD Gummies).

They are made of hemp but sweetened with maple sugar, raw cacao, and contains the herb ashwagandha (Vegan CBD Gummies). Its bottle contains the words “chill af,” “cbd,” “happy hemp,” and “not pot.” It is technically “not pot” because it only contains CBD. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid but is not an ingredient. The way “not pot” is sold in a vitamin container depicts it as a dietary supplement to calm spirits. Products containing marijuana are increasing in popularity, but there still are flaws in edibles.

Sugar, chocolate, and marijuana are similar in how their consumption expanded. One of the main ways sugar was consumed was in chocolate. While chocolate was mostly consumed by the elite in in Baroque Europe, it was enjoyed more broadly in England (Martin, 2019). During the democratization of chocolate in England, “chocolate houses” emerged where people could converse about politics or social matters over a chocolate drink (Coe & Coe, 2013). People grew fond of the sweet taste, and many alterations of the treat formed. In 1828, the Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes Van Houton invented the hydraulic press, which produced solid chocolate by withdrawing cocoa butter from the beans (Coe & Coe, 2013). This creation led to the first chocolate bar in 1847; subsequently small candies featured chocolate and sugar (Coe & Coe, 2013). New inventions during the industrial revolution, such as the steam engine, allowed for mass cheap chocolate production. 

Analogous to when sugar became cheaper and more accessible due to the slave trade, marijuana is now becoming more accessible due to legalization in many states. Sugar was never illegal but was limited to the elite class due to high prices and shortages (Mintz, 1986). Marijuana was limited to only those who needed it for health reasons but is now fully legal in ten states (Forbes, 2018). Other states have legalized medical marijuana or have allowed for CBD products, which can be used to treat anxiety or muscle pains but do not cause a high. Both medical and recreational marijuana sales have added to $125 million in January this year, approximately 6% higher than sales in January 2018 (Mitchell, 2019). Millennials are now using pot in social circumstances just as sugar and chocolate were consumed in groups in the past. The relaxation of marijuana laws has allowed for it to be more socially acceptable to smoke. Only 25% of millennials smoke alone as of 2018, and the percentage of 12th graders who use marijuana daily has risen (Paul, 2018). Recently, marijuana consumption has increased similar to the past spike in sugar consumption.

Just as chocolate production technology became more advanced and allowed for branching products from chocolate beverages, the production of cannabis chocolate is experimenting with new methods to create different products. Factories combine chocolate with cannabis in varying ratios of THC to CBD, with the most common being 1:1 (Freeman, 2019). “To whom it may cannabis” focuses on creating nutty truffles and boozy bon bons.

The video shows how they start their creations by first mixing cannabis oil and coconut oil.

They use graduated cylinders, distillation apparatuses, flasks, and pipettes. The most difficult part of the process it to control temperature to avoid “blooming,” which is when a layer of sugar forms on top of the chocolate (Chester, 2019). There is an intricate process to make the products as it is even more complicated than making pure chocolate given the presence of cannabis. Successful brands often have strict regulations on ingredients, methods, and recipes in order to assure their products do not have varying ratios of drugs and different effects, but the process will be altered as brands work toward various products containing cannabis to satisfy demand.

Chocolate sweetened with sugar and chocolate containing marijuana have been used to target specific emotive effects.  One example of example of sugary chocolate changing emotions in people is in Snickers commercials.

The marketing campaign includes the slogan “You are not you when you are hungry.”

The commercial depicts how the treat can not only make you feel different but literally transform you into a different person.  Now companies have added cannabis to delicious chocolate and have altered the recipes to target specific mind-altering effects in consumers. Chocolate conceals the “weedy” taste and blends well with hemp CBD oil. 1906 Chocolates markets “new highs” (Chester, 2019). They offer products with names such as “high love” and “pause.” “High love” plays on the aphrodisiac quality of chocolate. It is composed of herbs that increase blood flow to the pelvic and thus lead to more sexual desire. “Pause” makes one feel relaxed and relieves anxiety. “Midnight” is to help with pain and insomnia; it is made of the plant corydalis (Chester, 2019). “Bliss” improves energy and attitude. Finally, “go” is packed with caffeine, the amino acid l-theanine, THC, and CBD. Therefore, it increases energy and can be used for athletes. A new brand Serra offers a completely customizable experience for its customers. People can enter their stores and fill out a card describing what feelings they desire (Giller, 2017).

The image shows a “feeling card,” where customers document what kind of product they want.

Sugar and marijuana have played similar roles in diets by being added to chocolate in order to achieve a specific emotive change.

While they have played similar roles in diets, sugar and marijuana both have taken on multiple purposes in society. When people from all classes were introduced to sugar and chocolate, sugar gained even more uses than just a sweetener and medicine (Mintz, 1986). Sugar also was a preservative, decoration, and spice. It was used to preserve jams and jellies, preventing the growth of yeasts and other microorganisms. It was also a main ingredient, not only in decadent desserts but in decorative centerpieces on tables. The versatile ingredient was used a spice to season foods such as meat, similar to how salt is used. Sugar was versatile and accessible, which is why its consumption accelerated from zero to millions of tons annually; marijuana is beginning to show the same properties. From this combination of chocolate and cannabis, there are potential new uses and wide marketability. There is potential for cannabis chocolate to be used in many facets of life, since it can be a workout enabler by increasing energy or a sleep aid by relaxing muscles. Serra employs a chocolatier in addition to a compliance officer to make sure they are following legal medical and recreational marijuana laws (Giller, 2017). Their stores are clean, organized, and respectable, which leads to a mass appeal and avoids making marijuana seem illicit.

The products are featured in chic glasses with “quality drugs” written on leaves to resemble marijuana plants.

For Serra, cannabis has already spread beyond chocolate. They sell pre-rolls, concentrates, topicals, and soaking salts (Forbes, 2018). Chocolate was immediately loved for its aphrodisiac qualities and medicinal properties in the past. Now weed is being taken advantage of as people enjoy choosing the feelings the drugs will bring and are open to different types of products. Soon marijuana will be featured in more skincare products, drinks, pills, shampoos, and edibles.

Sugar and marijuana have commonalities in medicinal uses, expansion, and role in diets. The main overlap is their popular addition to chocolate. Sugar in the 1800s resembles pot today. Its consumption was limited initially, but later it was used in various contexts and consumed in great quantities. Marijuana’s consumption was illegal except for medical purposes until recently, and it is now being added to chocolate. Sugar and marijuana have played similar roles in diets by causing a change of emotions, and their uses have greatly expanded. Just as sugar was used as a decoration, preservative, sweetener, spice, and medicine, marijuana is being added to chocolate and now skincare products and beverages along with medicine. CBD can be extracted from cannabis and hemp plants to be added to pills, vaporizers, creams, shampoos, cocktails, and more. Pot is becoming as mainstream as sugar did when it became more affordable. The striking similarities between sugar and marijuana provide insight into how cannabis use may expand even further in the future.

Works Cited

Chester, Britt. “Cuckoo for Cannabis: 1906 Chocolates Aim for Specific Effects.” Westword, 4, 14 Mar. 2019, http://www.westword.com/marijuana/1906-edibles-aim-for-specific-marijuana-effects-in-chocolate-and-beyond-11235027.

Coe, Sophie D. and Michael D. Coe. 2013 [1996]. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd edition.         London: Thames & Hudson.

Freeman, Jeremy. “Best CBD Chocolate: Who Won Our Taste Award.” Pure Green Living, 2019, puregreenliving.com/best-cbd-chocolate.

Giller, Megan. “This High-End Edibles Startup Targets A New Kind Of Cannabis Consumer.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 20 Apr. 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/megangiller/2017/04/20/this-high-end-edibles-startup-targets-a-new-kind-of-cannabis-consumer/#33d261647313.

Huddleston, Tom. “Why People Love CBD – the Cannabis Product That Won’t Get You High.” CNBC, CNBC, 10 Nov. 2018, http://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/09/what-is-cbd-these-popular-cannabis-products-wont-get-you-high.html.

Humphries, Barbara Sally. “Spoon Full of Sugar – Mary Poppins.” YouTube, YouTube, 24 May 2008, www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrnoR9cBP3o.

Martin, Carla D. “Sugar and Cacao.’” Chocolate, Culture and the Politics of Food. Harvard University: Cambridge, MA. 13 Feb. 2017. Lecture.

Mintz, Sidney. 1986[1985]. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Penguin Books.

Mitchell, Thomas. “Marijuana Sales on Pace for New Heights in 2019.” Westword, 4, 12 Apr. 2019, http://www.westword.com/marijuana/colorados-2019-marijuana-sales-on-fast-pace-11266948.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Marijuana as Medicine.” NIDA, June 2018, http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine.

Parker, Gordon, et al. “Mood State Effects of Chocolate.” Journal of Affective Disorders, Elsevier, 20 Mar. 2006, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016503270600084X.

Paul, Kari. “Why Millennials Prefer Cannabis to Booze: ‘Zero Enjoyment out of Drinking’ (and Pot’s Cheaper, Too).” MarketWatch, 27 Oct. 2018, www.marketwatch.com/story/millennials-appear-to-like-cannabis-more-than-booze-2018-09-26.

“Snickers Commercial – Football – You Are Not You When You Are Hungry.” YouTube, YouTube, 19 Dec. 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbpFpjLVabA.

“The Science of Chocolate and Cannabis: How They Combine To Make Powerful Medicines.” DavidWolfe.com, 11 Oct. 2015, http://www.davidwolfe.com/the-scientific-secrets-of-chocolate-and-cannabis-how-and-why-chocolate-and-cannabis-are-medicines/.

“Vegan CBD Gummies, 30-Day Supply.” Not Pot, notpot.com/products/vegan-cbd-gummies.

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