Netflix documentary warns about the cannabis edibles industry

Netflix documentary warns about the cannabis edibles industry

Benito Díaz

The documentary series “Rotten” has sparked a debate about the food industry. This series offers detailed information about certain sorts of food that are available in every shop, about which, nevertheless, we know absolutely nothing.

The origin of the chocolate we consume, the harm to environment that cattle farming entails or the draught and desertification caused by the avocado farming, which are to blame for hundreds of deaths in Mexico or Chile, are some of the topics of these one hour long documentaries.

When it comes to its second season, after analysing the international market of wine or honey, Rotten focuses on cannabis-based edibles. They claim that consumers “don’t eat to be fed, but to get high. Yesterday’s dealer is today’s chef”.

Gummy candy, cookies, brownies, Macarons and chocolate bars

The documentary visits different places in the world such as Amsterdam (Netherlands) and several states from the US where marijuana is legal, whether it be for medicinal use, for recreational use or both.

Stats don’t lie. In 2017, only a 6.6% of the citizens over 18 years of age of the United States had consumed this kind of edibles. In 2012, the sales of these products surpassed the 4.000 million dollars worth. “People who don’t usually smoke feel comfortable with foods. They are familiar and produce no smoke, which is associated to health problems”, explains the cannabis journalist Mona Zheng.

During their trip to North Venice, they visited different bakeries where loads of products are offered, such as chocolates, cakes, candy and all sorts of sweets infused with cannabis. This kind of businesses are looking for their own unique and delicious product.

The downside

The criticism to the edibles market focus on things like the extraction of cannabinoids by unqualified staff or undeclared labour force. Moreover, the sanitary control and the chemical tests needed to carry out a good labelling, making sure the pertinent percentages are adjusted and invariable, are not easy to find. “The distribution of cannabinoids must be homogeneous. If you produce 1000 units of chocolate cookies, the percentage in all of them needs to be the same or very close”, says an Oregon entrepreneur.

The documentary deals with dosage problems that exist in oral administered cannabis, sometimes due purely to consumers’ lack of knowledge.

Ingested cannabis has a much more potent effect than that of the inhaled cannabis and takes longer to notice, between 30 minutes and an hour approximately. In many cases the personal history of the consumer is not taken into account and there is no proper labelling referring trust-worthy percentages.

Once inhaled, THC goes straight into the bloodstream, producing effects in the brain very quickly. After ingesting it, the food goes to the stomach, where is processed and sent to the liver, where is processed again. Metabolised THC turns into II-Hidroxi-THC and is directed with all its might towards the nervous system and the brain. Therefore, the effect is more intense, lasts longer and takes longer to start.

The dose of THC for non-consumers should be around 10-30 mg, always considering the individual history. This is the reason why “whiteys” are frequent in unexperienced people, since they consume a dose above the recommended for them.

Morover, the film also addresses the danger of no-intervention of the federal government, who does not plan a national regulation either and leaves the quality control in the hands of private labs. The outcome is falsified results and a loss in trust for said tests.

“Medical” cannabis

“A part of the medical community thinks that medicinal marijuana is only an entry visa for recreational marijuana. No drug has ever had the kind of treatment that marijuana is receiving”, claims pediatrician Gillian Santon. She also demands attention for kids, since the industry that is being promoted creates products that can be very attractive for minors. “I don’t think that anybody has died due to cannabis consumption, but the body of an adult is not like the one of a child. You will not die, but that does not mean that you cannot get ill from consuming”, Santon explains.

“It is a drug approved by popular demand. If another company wished to launch a medicine skipping the legal framework, the tests and research, their company would be closed down”, says a different scientist.

In this direction, the film also deals with CBD, also lacking scientific research. There are lots of badly labelled products, with lower doses than the ones advertised or even without any CBD at all, substituted with other cannabinoids, even synthetic ones.


Christine Haughney Dare-Bryan is to thank for the investigation carried out in the documentary series. Haughney Dare-Bryan is a journalist who specialises in alimentary issues and has been awarded several prizes. This gives solidity to the information exposed in all the chapters of the two seasons existing so far on the Netflix platform.

“Edible narcotics”, a piece of over an hour, dives in the cannabis world in style. The production is almost flawless, just like the editing work and the content.

There is a good balance in the opinions shown, of people who sometimes defend completely opposed points of view, but who move within the same universe. The producers, along with the scientists, doctors, police and entrepreneurs are part of a single fabric tied around this dawning industry.

In the end, it is worthy of mention the final reflection about the darkest side of legalisation, in which the mega stores of food, with multi-million marketing plans, have access to the plant.


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