In November, Californians overwhelmingly voted to legalize recreational marijuana. One caveat of the new law was that the state would have a year to implement regulations and oversight. State officials will require some time to figure out how to introduce legal weed to the world’s 6th largest economy. Officials need to implement things like how to test a marijuana-intoxicated driver. Along with the state and law enforcement community, the vibrant business community built by and around marijuana growers and product-makers is also trying to quickly figure out how to cash in on what experts presume will be a bonanza of opportunity. Last week, Civilized attended an event hosted by CannaCool Lounge and Women Abuv Ground. The pot-focused soirée of sorts was designed to help foster the growth of the legal marijuana business.

The evening was billed as a Grammy Awards pre-party and tribute to Montel Williams, the former daytime talk show host and advocate for recreational marijuana. Held at a ballroom in downtown Los Angeles, the event included a VIP section where marijuana-enthusiasts could sip weed-infused wine and nibble on sushi. On the main floor, attendees could sample edibles, try new vape pens, and price marijuana-themed luxury jewellery. Men in Weedmaps hats ambled past. Women smiled as they tried pot-infused fried potato balls. Meanwhile, as Drake boomed from PA speakers and the DJ mixed in the next track, pot consumers and weed aficionados leaned in close to be able to hear a sales rep explain why marijuana-infused candies are so popular.

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As I stopped at one vendor table, a friendly-faced man asked me, “Do you like to smoke rosin?” He was selling vape pens and two products to puff. One was called Clear and was made of 86% THC. The other product was CBD, which he was quick to inform, unlike THC, provides no head high. He pointed out that “Some people tend to get paranoid with a head high. So this is more medicinal."

And there’s the rub. Wandering from table-to-table, one is left to wonder: which of these products are snake oil and which are viable medicinal and recreational products. Is pot-infused honey really going to do anything for you, besides taste like someone gave bees pot resin to eat? Like the early days of patent medicine shows, today’s maker of marijuana products has little to no governmental oversight. Which makes it difficult for customers to know the real from the bullshit.

When I spoke with a maker of weed-infused topical creams, bath bombs, and sex lube, and asked about the strength of her product line, she admitted that unlike with edibles, topicals don’t tend to make a person feel high. The concentrations of THC are too low and the skin is not the best delivery method. So, I asked, why would someone buy a topical? Especially when the products tend to be pricier than traditional creams, bath bombs and sex lube. The sales rep, Vanessa, said, “It’s more for healing, than for someone to be high all day.” Healing is such a catch-all term. If you can trigger the placebo effect, a certain level of healing can always occur.

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The assortments of edibles were far more popular amongst the attendees. It seems that most folks found that chocolate was able to (mostly) mask that unmistakable pot flavor that’s so hard to disguise. This was not the case with the weed-infused wine. The red wine I sampled tasted like a cocktail of Italian table wine and bong water. Not generally a taste anyone is looking to enjoy. However, the white wine, from the same company, was actually not bad.

The big question with the coming explosion of the recreational marijuana business in California is simple: How will you be able to tell the real deal from the snake oil? We’re in the wild early days and this will clearly be one of the biggest challenge facing the weed industry as bigger players enter the game.