Chew on this: CBD-laced candy and weed legalization



A Weed World Candies truck in Indio, California. Photo: Pete Marrero

Weed World candy trucks line up in Times Square selling what the company says is marijuana-laced candy. The bright green vehicles are decorated with pictures of flavored lollipops next to cannabis plants and the words, “Get Medicated!”

The question is, what’s in the candy?  The company says it contains only CBD, the staff say it contains THC, and legalization proponents argue that whatever it is, it’s either a boon or an obstacle to legalization. Advocate Rafael Post, who plans to launch a legalization petition, explained that CBD is the element present in medical marijuana. THC is the mind-altering aspect that creates the high.

The Weed World Candies company launched in 1999 in New York and now has 22 vehicles across the country, in legal and non-legal states. They sell edibles, including lollipops (one for $6 or four for $20), brownies, and muffins. According to Marketing Director Pete Marrero, “there is no THC in these products. It’s strictly just CBD hemp-oil products . . . It does not give you a head high. It gives you strictly a body high.” The company says that the candy is created for medicinal purposes only and helps relieve minor headaches, back and muscle pains, nausea, and stress.

“The whole point of what our company does is to actually educate individuals on the benefits of what CBD does and how it helps,” Marrero said, “and the next segue is to provide the product to the individuals that choose to have it.”

But he admits that truck staffers don’t always communicate that message in person or on social media, and customers come away wondering why they didn’t get high. “Some of the staff does not follow through with the way they’re supposed to educate and promote the products,” he said, “and that has become a problem. Not just through social media but through bad customer service because no one wants to be lied to.”

According to Marrero, the candies cannot contain THC, even in legal states, because the state has to keep track of sales and taxes, and it would have no way to monitor THC products sold out of vehicles.

Attorney Noah Potter is an advocate for legalizing marijuana in New York, where weed is not legal, is active in drug policy reform, and is the general manager of the NYC Cannabis Parade, an annual pro-legalization event. He believes that the “cute and colorful” aspect of the trucks might obscure the seriousness of social issues surrounding the issue.

“They’re funny, they elicit a smile . . . There’s a somewhat problematic message because there are many, many messages in circulation in the reform movement wanting to focus on social justice and mass incarceration and this empowerment primarily of people of color,” he said. “It’s an extremely serious issue.” Potter believes the trucks could better contribute to the reform movement by adding politically-conscious messages on the sides, such as “remember the prisoners,” or posting lists of advocacy groups.

“I don’t think there’s anything cute,” said Marrero, in response. “I don’t agree with that. I’m a cancer survivor. The reason why I do what I do is because I’m a patient, I’m a survivor, I beat cancer in 2010 . . . These vans are put in place for shock marketing, when people see them they get surprised, they draw people’s attention, and they come over to the van.” The staff can then educate the individuals on the medicinal benefits of CBD.

“A lot of people who don’t know about weed have a problem with it because of the smoking aspect of it,” said Rafael Post. “They don’t like the idea of smoke going in their lungs and smoke coming out of them because it does damage your lungs.” He feels that the trucks expose customers to a less dangerous form of weed.

A twenty-year-old female tourist from Dublin had never seen the trucks before but decided to buy a lollipop because, she said, “it is just fun to try.” She said she does not think the lollipop will get her high, even though the staffers say otherwise.