5 Cannabis Experts Weigh In On Why The Future Of Edibles Is Fast-Acting

The cannabis industry term “rapid delivery” first appeared in 2017 with the launch of a proprietary portfolio of THC-infused, effects-based chocolates made by the brand 1906.

But two years later, the category matured when Wana – the number one cannabis edibles company in North America – teamed up with Azuca and officially renamed it as “fast-acting.” They incorporated Azuca founder and chief creative officer Ron Silver’s quick onset technology, known as “Time Infusion,” into an expansion of its best-selling line of all-natural, sugar-coated gummies with Wana Quick.

Since then, both Wana Brands and Azuca have led the charge in providing cannabis consumers a quicker-hitting and more consistent high than that of traditional edible products.

“In Azuca’s formative years, the only focus was how to get control of these cannabinoids and make them act in a way that would be predictable,” explained Silver, also Azuca’s chief creative officer. “At that time, maybe eight years ago, no one was thinking about fast onset edibles. We have remained hyper-focused on delivering cannabinoids in tightly controllable doses so that a consumer could choose one milligram or half a milligram if they wished.”

Today, Azuca lends its patent-pending technology to brands beyond Wana – which just debuted a multi-cannabinoid, health-focused Optimals offshoot – to cannabis companies including Columbia CareNectarBeeHigh Life FarmsEverest Apothecary and Revolutionary Clinics. Established edibles purveyors have also recently entered the category independently, including Coda Signature with a just-released, fast-acting version of its gourmet Fruit Notes product using technology from MedPharm (available in Colorado).

According to an exclusive fast-acting edibles report shared by cannabis research firm BDSA, Colorado is the most developed market in this space with 27 SKUs available (up by seven compared to 2020); California is a close second with 23 fast-acting SKUs now on dispensary shelves with Wana and Sunderstorm as two of the top performers within the category in both states. In 2020, edibles accounted for 12% of U.S. adult-use cannabis sales ($2.2 billion); by 2026 edibles’ share of sales is forecasted to increase slightly to 14% ($6.7 billion). While in Colorado and California, gummies make up more than 95% of edible sales overall.

“Fast-acting edibles are a relatively new phenomenon,” the BDSA breakdown explained. “One of the key challenges consumers face with edible cannabis products is that until recently, the time that it takes an individual to start feeling the effects of a given product was fairly unpredictable with onset times ranging anywhere from 30 minutes to more than two hours in some cases.”

As this trend continues to evolve, I tapped five leading innovators and formulators in the category to share what’s behind the science, how fast-acting edibles affect the system differently and insight into what’s next.



Kim Rael, President and CEO

On the evolution:

I often use tech analogies to talk about cannabis and this is one of my favorite: I think that traditional edibles are the equivalent of dial-up internet, and fast-acting edibles are broadband. I personally believe that the industry will convert to fast-acting just as the internet has converted to broadband, except way faster! Why would you, as a consumer, put up with the painful, unpredictable, SLO-O-O-O-O-W experience of dial up internet when broadband is available, plentiful and cost-effective? When the internet ecosystem moved from dial up to broadband, the transition took about 13 years. I think that the conversion in cannabis edibles will happen in the next two to three years, and close to 100% of the ingestible category will be fast-acting.

On the difference:

I’d emphasize that not all fast-acting edibles are created equal. What our consumers report is that Azuca Time Infusion products deliver a sensorial experience that is much closer to smoking, or a Delta-9 experience, and very distinct from traditional edibles. Our process encapsulates individual THC molecules in a hydrophylic, or “water-friendly” coating. Because our bodies are over 60% water, the encapsulated molecules are absorbed efficiently in the mouth and soft tissues, avoiding the long “first pass metabolism” where traditional edibles are broken down by the liver.

On what’s next:

Our next innovation will be about how to deliver complete strain edibles with the same controllability. This will open up edibles to an infinite combination of cannabis and the desired effects that derive from one’s favorite strain. Our process is to help address the immediate issues in edibles, such as onset time, accuracy in dosing, shelf stability and ease of use, and then to create the future of edibles by creating the best toolbox for edibles creators.


Coda Signature

Maigread Eichten, CEO

On the tipping point:

We’ve been committed to leading on innovation and evolving our line to offer phenomenally tasting products that also deliver the desired effect in the right amount of time. We know our customers love our original Fruit Notes, and by adding [a fast-acting option in partnership with MedPharm] we are [able to provide] a quicker, more intense experience thanks to our perfect pairings of real fruit flavor, ideal dosing and fast-acting technology. This shines through in our new Pomegranate & Hibiscus Fruit Notes — the industry’s first fast-acting gummy to feature a 1:1 CBN to THC ratio — formulated to help create dreamy sleep in less than 15 minutes.

On the evolution: 

Fast-acting is clearly gaining in popularity as experienced cannabis consumers seek out edibles that offer the right dosing and effect experience without the wait, one that dissipates faster as well. For people new to cannabis, fast-acting can offer an experience much more akin to enjoying a cocktail or glass of wine.



Scott Karolchyk, Director of Formulation Development

On the tipping point: 

I started working on enhancing bioavailability over four years ago. Many iterations were formulated allowing tasteless, emulsified [properties] with the ability to change particle sizes and density (weight) of the powders for customized formulations. Our innovations have led to being granted a patent and we have several patent applications in play. These micro-sized powders led to the creation of our liquid, fast-acting emulsifiers and nano technologies. Coda Signature and Quiq [by Medically Correct] are our first B2B partners with many more to follow, including product development and consultations.

On the difference: 

Our emulsifiers allow formulations to have much higher, enhanced absorption and bioavailability. Effects are seen [in as soon as] 10 minutes, allowing predictable, expected responses from consumers and patients. [Results have shown] bioavailability to be higher (above 60%) than traditional edibles (4-12%), and time to effect is, on average, over three times quicker.


Quicksilver Scientific

David Durkee, PhD, Vice President, New Ventures

On the evolution:

Fast-acting is trending because people crave consistency and, in my opinion, it’s not there yet in the cannabis industry. Everyone’s body reacts differently to products whether cannabis, alcohol or vitamins. From a physical standpoint, we can’t necessarily control this, but what we can do is make sure products are consistent, so users can better predict how they react. We’re trying to solve this problem and fast-acting edibles are something that appeals to the market. Knowing it’ll only take minutes to feel the effect, taking another dose is not necessary. It cuts down on the potential of overdosing and creates an overall better experience for consumers who will ultimately repeat that purchase.

Behind the science:

Our technology is already developed from our line of nutraceuticals and was created by Dr. Christopher Shade, who is an expert in detox and getting materials in and out of the body. The chemistry itself is based on his lifelong knowledge and research and optimized for performance. We’ve developed a proprietary superior nanoemulsion delivery system utilized in a variety of nutritional supplements that address a range of health needs from enhanced bioavailability of essential vitamins to the elimination of ubiquitous toxins enabling consumers to achieve their genetic potential. Quicksilver uses its own laboratories to ensure product safety and efficacy, and also relies on objective third-party testing to certify that its products meet the highest standards for safety, quality, and potency. Our technology 

brings real product development and expertise that is tried and true for other industries into cannabis.


Mike Hennesy, Vice President of Innovation

On the tipping point:

Wana was keenly aware that one of the primary reasons some consumers were not interested in edibles was the long onset time. If we could solve [that] concern, we knew the product would be a success. We started looking at where the developing science was catching up and could produce a new technology that delivered on this promise.Our team was looking for a fast-acting technology that really worked, but also functioned well as an ingredient in the manufacturing process and tasted good in an edible — this turned into a multi-year search, vetting more than a dozen emerging technologies [until we landed on Azuca].

On the competition:

I’d say almost every edibles brand is at least considering getting into the fast-acting space now. This is the time when the brands that have been thinking ahead and investing in R&D are starting to win out against brands that are just realizing they need to have a competing product, because not all delivery systems and fast-acting technologies are equivalent. While marketing teams can claim “fast-acting,” it really comes down to the consumer experience of the product to drive repeat purchases and grow market share in the space.

On the difference:

Many consumers are latching onto this newly available experience, from new cannabis users looking for something that can take effect quickly so they know it’s working to seasoned consumers who like the shorter duration or different experience that products delivering the Delta-9 THC effect can offer. This means feeling the effect faster, with a lighter, more cerebral high, and an offset in two to four hours, which is ideal for many use cases like a night out with friends or going to a concert.