Cannabis dispensaries have come a long way since the first states legalized weed in 2012. Gone are the days when the typical dispensary was little more than a collection of questionable jars in the worst part of town. Now, a decade later, award-winning, multimillion-dollar dispensaries are setting the bar high, offering interactive screens and “budtenders.”
But there’s a new kind of dispensary rolling in: cannabis trucks. These ice cream trucks for stoners have been spotted in weed-friendly cities across the U.S., and they’re getting a lot of attention (understandably.)
Some are subtle, infusing THC and/or CBD into discreet, familiar treats, like sandwiches or tacos. Others, like Manhattan’s “Weed World” (which has been selling CBD-infused lollipops since New York legalized recreational cannabis) are a little more up-front about it.
Whatever form they may take, the idea is intriguing. You’ve worked a long day in one of the nation’s bustling metropolises and step out of your office to see a stress-relieving CBD lollipop for sale, or a taco with a little THC sauce. Doesn’t sound so bad, eh?
Well, it might be.
According to Heather Despres, Director of Patient-Focused Certification at the cannabis advocacy association Americans for Safe Access, prospective buyers should be extremely cautious when purchasing from cannabis food trucks right now. Odds are, those products aren’t legal.
“Most states require the operator of any cannabis business to be at a fixed and secure location that they can inspect,” Despres told GreenState. “I’m not aware of any states that permit distribution via food truck, so, if a person is purchasing cannabis or hemp products from a truck, it is likely a purchase from the illicit market, and the consumer runs the risk of purchasing a mislabeled, improperly identified, potentially unsafe product.”
Despres said cannabis delivery fits the requirement that operators remain stationary, since the actual sale is technically made in a building. Cannabis trucks, however, sell on the road, which makes it virtually impossible for any of them to be licensed by the state.
The danger in this? Well, unlicensed products aren’t tested for safety.
Every state where adult use is legal requires cannabis products be tested for a plethora of potential harms, the most important being potency, microbiologicals (like bacteria,) mycotoxins (like mold,) pesticides, and heavy metals. Basically, by buying cannabis products that are not approved by state regulators, you risk putting a lot of extra things into your body that you don’t want.
“When a product is not manufactured in a sanitary facility, the product runs the risk of containing potentially harmful amounts of contaminants or being able to support the rapid growth of microbiological contaminants once packaged,” Despres said. “Foods that are meant to be refrigerated but aren’t are an example of products like these.”
Another issue that consumers risk by buying illicit products is homogeneity – i.e., how evenly the THC is spread throughout the product – Despres said. Cannabis food products that can be consumed in doses must have the active ingredient spread evenly throughout the product, so you won’t consume more THC than you intend to when you break off a buzzy chocolate square.
It’s important to note that there are currently almost no regulations on the sale of CBD in the United States, regardless of what state you’re in. So, while the sale of unverified THC products is illegal even in states where recreational use is legal, the laws on commercial CBD are much looser. It’s why many trucks, like New York’s “Weed World,” have chosen to stay on the safe side by only selling hemp-based products.
That being said, the fact that people are basically permitted to sell whatever CBD they want means it’s very rarely tested, so you should still verify the legitimacy of hemp/CBD products before purchase.
If you’re still determined to get in on the weed truck craze, here’s a nugget of hope: Whether required to by law or not, responsible cannabis sellers will test their products. So, it’s worth reaching out to your local weed truck to find out if it’s legit.
Despres recommends asking for a certificate of analysis, as well as asking whether the manufacturer has any certifications or accreditations such as PFC (Patient Focused Certification,) GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice,) or ISO (International Organization of Standardization.)
Weed trucks tend to keep a low profile online, so it’s probably best to ask for credentials in person. We reached out to Magical Butter, sponsor of the popular Denver-based truck SAMICH (an acronym for “Savory Accessible Marijuana Infused Culinary Happiness”) to ask what tests have been conducted on their goods. We have yet to receive a response to this request.
If you find their products are tested by credible, third party sources, you can indulge in the lunch wagon weed of your dreams without too much to worry about. There may not be many now, but considering how fast the cannabis industry has progressed in the past decade, it’s well within the realm of possibility that there will be a lot more verified weed trucks in the next few years.
Elissa Esher is Assistant Editor at GreenState. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Guardian, Brooklyn Paper, Religion Unplugged, and Iridescent Women. Send inquiries and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to report that GreenState has not received response to a request for comment from Magical Butter.