From my experience and rigorous analytics, I believe buccal, sublingual and lingual absorption cannabis products, which are edibles that are dissolved in the mouth, on and under the tongue will capture 41 percent of the THC market and 26 percent of the CBD market by 2027.
Today, the cannabis market is worth about $50 billion, albeit with black-market channels being accounted for, of which less than one percent being sublingual absorption cannabis products. Annual sales for the cannabis industry in 2027 are forecast at $75 billion and the largest sector will be sublingual absorption cannabis products.
What Are THC PODS?
THC Pods are small squares of edible “paper” that dissolve when they come in contact with water. In the case of THC Pods, it’s your saliva that causes the whole thing to dissolve. Have you ever seen or had a breath strip? THC Pods are pretty much the same thing only they contain an extra ingredient—THC—to give it more kick.
What Are THC Pods Used For?
THC Pods are used as an inconspicuous way to get a dose of THC anytime, anywhere. These type of dissolvable Pods are especially useful for those who take THC or CBD for medical reasons. There’s no need to light up and suffer the stigma associated with the tell-tale marijuana smell just to get a bit of pain relief or to take the edge off of post-traumatic stress disorder. THC Pods are just one in a long line of cannabis dosing methods that includes, smoking, dabbing, edibles, tinctures, waxes, oils, shatters, and pretty much everything else that you can think of.
How Do You Use THC Pods?
THC Pods work similar to the more-familiar breath Pods, only with a slight twist. Instead of placing the breath strip on your tongue and swallowing the dissolved material, you slip the THC strip under your tongue and allow the dissolved material to absorb into your bloodstream through the sublingual artery. An alternative delivery method involves placing the THC strip against the side of your check. This results in a slightly slower on-set with a more mellow, longer-lasting effect.
THC Pods Vs. Other Types Of Edibles
THC Pods are consumed through the mouth like other edibles, but this is where the similarity ends. With regular edibles, that you swallow (let’s say a cookie, for example), the cannabis in the mixture is bound to the fat molecules. Your stomach acid has to break everything down before the cannabinoids can be absorbed through either your stomach lining or your intestinal lining. After they’re absorbed, they pass through your liver before entering your bloodstream and being carried to your brain. All of this takes time. This long trip through the digestive system, and through the filter that is your liver, serves to remove some of the potency of the THC ingested. This concept is known as bioavailability. Edibles provide less bioavailability because of the destructive properties of your stomach and liver.
THC Pods, on the other hand, provide increased bioavailability because the cannabinoids are absorbed directly into an artery (sublingual) which is only a hop, skip, and a jump from your brain (where the THC takes effect). From the sublingual artery, the unfiltered THC travels to the external carotid artery, to the internal carotid artery, and then to your brain.
How Are THC Pods Made?
Each manufacturer will have their own unique method. But to give you an idea of what goes into those dissolvable Pods, here’s a basic recipe from our Test Kitchen:
22.4 grams pullulan
1.0 gram carrageenan
0.15 grams xanthan gum
0.15 grams locust bean gum
0.8 grams sorbitol
71.85 grams water
2.5 grams emulsified mint oil
0.5 grams herb extract (not THC)
0.3 grams aspartame
0.25 grams citric acid
Microencapsulated THC extract (liquid THC)
Measure pullulan, carrageenan, xanthan gum, locust bean gum, sorbitol, aspartame, and citric acid into a large mixing bowl.
While stirring, slowly pour water into the bowl.
Continue mixing until you’ve created a gel.
Add emulsified mint oil, herb extract, and THC extract.
Combine ingredients until everything is homogenous.
Cover loosely (doesn’t have to be airtight) and store overnight.
Pour on a baking pan and spread to desired thickness.
Dry in an oven set between 140 degrees Fahrenheit and 175 degrees Fahrenheit until the mixture is dry to the touch (about 3-8% moisture).
Remove the large sheet (pods) from the pan, let it cool, and then cut into small Pods.
What Is Microencapsulation?
The word “microencapsulation” means to put a substance into a microcapsule. In this case, we’re putting THC extract into those microcapsules. The thing about all this is that those microcapsules are tiny little things (invisible to the naked eye) suspended in liquid. When the liquid dries or evaporates, the microcapsules are left behind, in this case, on the dissolvable strip. Before it was usedfor the likes of breath Pods and THC Pods, microencapsulation was, and still is, mainly used in the transport, administration, and targeting of therapeutic drugs for cancer treatment and other diseases.
Microencapsulation of THC, and their subsequent inclusion in the dissolvable pod, provides a number of benefits over just adding THC extract into the mix.
Encapsulated THC is protected against degradation (or spoilage) for extended periods of time.
Encapsulation provides a means to control the release rate of THC.
Encapsulated THC makes consumption simple with a variety of ingestion methods available.
In essence, microencapsulation is a way to control the dosage of the pod, makes the pod easy to consume, and helps the THC last longer.