Edible Marijuana… Is it safe?

By: Bob Bianchi

Marijuana, Cannabis Sativa, is a flowering plant known to have psycho active properties when smoked or eaten. Two states, Colorado and Washington have approved the use of marijuana for recreational purposes and twenty states have approved marijuana for medicinal purposes.  The Federal government has determined that marijuana has no currently accepted medical use and has a high potential for abuse, which is why it is a Schedule I controlled substance.

Edible marijuana  has become popular because it is considered less harmful than smoking while still providing the desired effect. Oral consumption of cannabinoids (alkaloids contained in cannabis) can result in a similar psychoactive effect or “high” as smoking marijuana, although it may be delayed or mitigated due to slower absorption of the THC from the digestive tract.   Cannabis foods (edibles) are food products made with cannabis in herbal or resin form and are eaten for recreational or medicinal purposes.  Cannabis can be put into cake, cookies, brownies, chocolate, drinks or other foods and  they don’t look different than traditional foods.

According to Marillow, a resource for people interested in legal marijuana in the United States, the most popular form of edible marijuana is the Blueberry Bliss Bar which contains white chocolate, flax crispies, blueberries and 100 mg of hash oil. Due to adverse events in Colorado, legislation is pending to control the amount of THC in edible products. Nearly half of the 79 marijuana calls at Colorado medical facilities during the first four months of 2014 involved edibles, and seven involved children who had ingested the products. The detection of THC laced edible products has become an important concern for parents, school officials  and law enforcement personnel.




Mr. Bianchi began his career as an analytical chemist for a pharmaceutical company and the Food and Drug Administration. After 34 years of federal service (31 years with DEA) in a number of increasingly responsible positions as an analytical chemist, laboratory supervisor, headquarters program manager, director of the New York Laboratory, chief of DEA laboratory operations section and director of the DEA Special Testing and Research Laboratory where in depth examinations of drug substances for DEA’s drug intelligence programs were developed and performed.  Earlier in his career he participated in the seizure of many clandestine drug laboratories and developed a clandestine laboratory safety kit for use by Special Agents & chemists seizing clandestine drug laboratories.

Mr. Bianchi served as a subject matter expert for United Nations meetings on Methamphetamine profiling (1998, Tokyo, Japan), Drug Analysis Method Validation (1996, Beijing, China) & Analytical Methodology for the Analysis of Seized Drugs (1994, Helsinki, Finland).

Mr. Bianchi is currently the senior forensic advisor in Turkmenistan for the International Criminal Investigators Training Program.  In this capacity he is providing management and technical assistance to forensic laboratories of the Government of Turkmenistan.  He also participated in the independent investigation of the Houston Police Department crime laboratory and property room as well the New York City Police Department Drug Laboratory.

He is a former Board member of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD), chaired the ASCLD Awards committee and is an ASCLD/LAB trained inspector. Mr. Bianchi is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and retired emeritus member of ASCLD.

Mr. Bianchi is currently president of Bianchi Consulting, providing consulting services, assessments and training to foreign and domestic forensic laboratories.  He is also vice president and chief of scientific and technical affairs for the Prescription Drug Research Center, LLC., providing technical support to a variety of abuse deterrent formulation projects dealing with the chemistry & extractability of prescription & non-prescription drugs.

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