Chocolate Marijuana Edibles May be More Potent Than You Think: Here's Why

Ever accidentally gotten too high off an edible brownie? There might be a reason for that.

As more states across the country legalize medical and recreational marijuana use, the business of weed continues to flourish, particularly the edible marijuana market. Dozens of new companies have popped up over the last few years offering cannabis-infused delicacies like gummy candies, cookies, brownies and chocolates, leading the edibles sector in the U.S. and Canada to be worth some $1 billion in 2017, according to a data report by ArcView.

Although all the rave surrounding edibles has led to undeniable success and impressive dividends for entrepreneurs and business owners, there may be a serious downside looming in the near future regarding the accuracy of edibles' potency. While many producers are known to list the dosage of tetrahydrocannabinol—marijuana's psychoactive ingredient known as THC—on product packaging, there's a possibility the potency levels of some edibles, particularly those including chocolate, may be skewed.

Chocolate Marijuana Edibles May be More Potent Than You Think
Edible cannabis products are displayed at Essence Vegas Cannabis Dispensary before the midnight start of recreational marijuana sales on June 30, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nevada. A new study found it was more difficult than expected to determine the potency of THC levels when marijuana was combined with chocolate. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A new study found the presence of chocolate when combined with marijuana hinder results of potency testing. According to the new research, presented at the American Chemical Society Fall 2019 National Meeting & Exposition on Friday, some ingredients appear to suppress the presence of THC, which makes it harder to determine the potency of products including chocolate during testing. That suppression results in an instance referred to as "a matrix effect," in which more chocolate in an edible leads to less THC detecting while THC appears to be more noticeable in items that include less chocolate.

While the packaging for marijuana edibles typically includes THC dosages, the findings could indicate the potency levels listed on some products including chocolate may be inaccurate, which could be why some people notice the feeling of being high on a more strongly compared to when they are smoking loose marijuana flower.

Researchers haven't quite narrowed down exactly what chocolate ingredient is responsible for THC's seemingly hiding capabilities, but scientists suspected it was the fats in chocolate manipulating potency results and suggested THC may be fat-soluble. "Some ingredients in edibles, like healthy fats, may help with the absorption process and produce stronger effects," Tristan Watkins, Chief Science Officer of marijuana company LucidMood, who was not involved in the study, told Newsweek.

Those weed brownies might get you higher than expected: scientists found it's harder to determine the potency of THC when marijuana is mixed with chocolate

— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) September 2, 2019

Nonetheless, industry leaders weren't all that surprised with the study's findings, which led to the question: What about the determined potency levels on other edibles with fatty ingredients?

"While this is the first study demonstrating a reason for inaccuracy in measuring the potency of THC, the fact that potency can be variable and higher in edibles has been known for quite some time. It's very likely there are other ingredients that have similar effects that just haven't been formally studied," Murdoc Khaleghi, Senior Medical Advisor at CBD pharmaceutical company Elevate CBD, suggested to Newsweek in a statement.

Considering the influx of emergency room visits related to marijuana edibles intake, researchers claimed more testing needs to be done to efficiently determine how and why THC-levels are harder to discover when chocolate is involved. Khaleghi suggested better overall testing processes be implemented and suggested edible companies put more resources towards precisely measuring the amount of THC that goes in a product before mixing it with chocolate.