There may soon be a new use for your Keurig coffee maker — brewing pot.
Canadian medical cannabis producer CannTrust has created a single-serve marijuana pod called the CANNCUP.
Like other pods on the market, the CANNCUP will contain your choice of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. But these capsules will have a little extra something — dried cannabis.
Pop one in your single serve coffee machine and it will brew up a hot drink spiked with "a standardized dose of medical marijuana," explains CannTrust CEO Eric Paul.
CannTrust wants to join U.S. companies that are already serving up pot pods.
Paul claims the marijuana won't affect the taste, and at an estimated $3 to $4 a pod, the price will be comparable to a high-end cup of coffee. And yes, the CANNCUP is apparently Keurig compatible.
Waiting for brewing approval
CannTrust, which is based in Vaughan, Ont., has applied for a licence to produce and sell the pod product to Canadian medical marijuana users.
"We're ready to go, other than the fact we need approval from Health Canada," says Paul, who is a trained pharmacist.
But it may not be a seamless process. Until recently, the federal government had banned all edible forms of medical marijuana. Then the Supreme Court ruled in June that patients were not limited to smoking the dried product and could consume the drug.
- Medical marijuana legal in all forms, Supreme Court rules
- Medical marijuana producers OK'd to produce, sell oil and fresh buds
In response, Health Canada allowed licensed medical marijuana companies to produce and sell cannabis oil and fresh buds and leaves. But it hasn't given the green light for pot-infused edibles like desserts and coffee.
Paul is optimistic the new Liberal government, which has pledged to legalize marijuana, will expand the rules.
"We've got a change in government and I believe we will see changes in regulations," he says.
Health Canada told CBC News it's aware of CannTrust's request to bring cannabis pods to market. The agency is currently "working to determine if these pods would be permissible," spokesman Sean Upton told CBC News in an email.
Selling points of pot pods
Paul contends the product should be allowed on the market because it offers many advantages over smoking pot. For starters, he says, patients won't suffer the potentially ill effects of inhaling a burning substance. "As a pharmacist, how could I condone smoking? I'm a health-care person," he says.
He also claims medicinal users will be able to control their dosage because the pods will contain a standardized dose of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.
Paul adds that the product will provide a more socially acceptable way to consume marijuana compared to smoking. "You could use it at work, at home, or in public areas," he says.
That's a selling point for Toronto medical marijuana customer and advocate Amy Brown. She uses cannabis to manage chronic pain following a car accident.
She loves the idea of sipping pot in a cup of coffee. "[It is] a very discreet and convenient way to medicate without potentially offending others around you, like smoking a joint might," she says.
Brown already eats marijuana-infused goodies that she bakes herself. She claims ingesting the drug is better than inhaling it because the effects last longer. But she adds that it can take much longer — up to two hours, for the medicinal effects to kick in when consuming pot.
And that has been a concern for Health Canada. On its website, it states that orally ingesting cannabis "is known to be slow and erratic," thereby producing a delayed effect. It adds that oral doses have not been well established.
The agency claims these issues "have contributed to overdoses" in some patients.
But Paul argues the medicinal dose in his pods will be safe because they're the same amount as in Health Canada approved cannabis oils. He also believes the agency's stance reflects the position of the previous Conservative government that was staunchly opposed to legalizing marijuana.
Now that a new government is in power, Paul predicts the market for ingestible marijuana looks much brighter. "I'm hoping we get a favourable response, soon," he says.