Do you know what’s in your cannabis edibles?

cannabis edibles ingredient labels: image of pot leaf gummies, lollies, and cannabis flower

Organic, no added sugar, keto, paleo–specialty diets are endless, and the list of ingredients to fear on food labels feels never-ending. Nowadays, Americans are more discerning than ever with what they buy at the grocery store. However, the same rarely stands when edibles shopping at the cannabis dispensary.

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Perhaps it’s the distraction of walls filled with illuminated local glass art or the permeating smell of ganja that washes a flurry of confusion over even the most experienced dispensary shopper once they walk through the door. Edibles shoppers can clear the haze by getting on top of what to look for. These ingredients are often used in these commonly infused foods, but each has some controversy.

High sugar

Certain infused treats are expected to be sweet, like cookies and cakes. But some weed edibles have a lot more sugar than some may realize, specifically drinks. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 to 36 mg of added sugar daily for a healthy diet. Lots of weed drinks, and non-infused beverages for that matter, can contain upwards of 30mg of added sugar.

Not all drinks have tons of sugar, just some of them. Check the label before buying weed beveragesto avoid an unwanted insulin spike along with a cannabis high.

Red 40 and other dyes

Experts are still working on a final verdict for Red 40 and other dyes. The FDA and World Health Organization have stated that they see little to no danger in consuming the dyes, but preliminary research suggests otherwise.

Research out of UCLA reviewed food dye toxicology, finding that nine ingredients accepted for coloring American foods create varying degrees of health risk. Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 often contain benzidine or other carcinogens, those dyes and Blue 1 may also cause hypersensitivity. The results weren’t definitive, but researchers requested more toxicology studies.

Though the jury is out on whether these dyes are harmful, this early data has led many shoppers to avoid artificially dyed products. Many cannabis gummies and other candies contain coloring, most commonly Red 40. Looking to avoid these ingredients? Scan the packaging at the shop before buying a package of infused gummies.

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Guar gum, carrageenan, and stabilizers

Stabilizers help keep food ingredients in products like salad dressings and alternative milk from separating while on the shelf. Guar gum and carrageenan are popular stabilizing ingredients, but some believe they may disrupt the digestive system.

Those who’ve learned how to make THC gummies know the morsels need a binding agent like guar gum, lecithin, or tapioca to take shape. However, anyone gummy shopping with intestinal issues or tummy troubles may want to avoid packages with guar gum or other controversial stabilizing ingredients.

Those with sensitive guts may want to stick to lecithin, tapioca, and agar agar. However, these issues are often highly personal. One ingredient may agitate a person’s digestion and not others. Choose what works for you.

Being a discerning shopper at the weed dispensary

Sure, cannabis edibles are food, but few shoppers are choosing products with the same discernment they use at the grocery store. It’s time for both to align and for consumers to realize that their edibles may contain ingredients they avoid in traditional foods. Learning what is in foods we love is the first step to understanding where to look for unwanted additives.

Cannabis packaging can be eye-catching with glimmering graphics and engaging copy, but don’t forget to look deeper. It’s the only way to know what’s really in your edibles.

Cara Wietstock is senior content producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.