EASTHAMPTON – INSA, recently awarded at the state-wide Cannabis Cup competition, continues to experience steady growth in the popularity of its cannabis edibles, executives said this week. the business, which will lead to an expansion of the company’s production operations.
This summer and fall, High Times magazine hosted its first-ever Cannabis Cup Massachusetts: People’s Choice Edition, in which 2,000 consumers purchased kits filled with a variety of products from retailers across the state and voted online for their favorites. INSA won at least fifth place in six of the 11 competition categories and first place in two categories, winning the most awards of any company.
During a Monday tour of the Easthampton store and its kitchen, where edibles are made on site, INSA co-founder and CEO Peter Gallagher said the operation “would expand into a new space, which we will announce shortly, to meet the demand for edible products in the market.
INSA’s Double Caramel Sea Salt chocolate bar won the Cannabis Cup edible chocolate category because of its “craftsmanship,” texture and flavor, Gallagher said. The bars are made with creamy Belgian chocolate, not the less mouth-watering chocolate compound used to make many other foods in the cannabis industry.
“It comes down to the care they take in making it, packaging it and ultimately serving the customer at the point of sale,” said Gallagher, detailing all six bars in the product line as well as the limited edition flavors, including the peppermint candy cane which are available during the holidays.
In the Cannabis Cup, the Double Caramel Sea Salt chocolate bar beat the products of Coast Cannabis, Koko Gemz, Pioneer Valley Cannabis Company and Cheeba Chews.
INSA’s Clementine vape pen won the sativa vape pen category, beating products from Pioneer Valley Cannabis Company, Fernway, Happy Valley and HÅVN Extracts.
In the pre-roll category, INSA took fourth place with its product Kush Mints. Other INSA products ranked at least fifth in the categories of indica vape pens, topicals and tinctures, and edible gums.
On Monday, research and development director Julian Rose oversaw the kitchen – which is part of the 100,000 square feet of production space and floral canopy on-site – which makes INSA’s edibles, including cups of peanut butter and candy.
Eight staff members were busy making Sleepy Drops, a blend of THC and melatonin that comes in several flavors, including peach, mango, and spicy ghost pepper-based pineapple. Black Cherry Flavor placed fifth in the Cannabis Cup Edible Jelly Candy category.
The popularity of edibles is growing sharply, Rose said, with sales growing 30 to 40 percent each year. Right now, he said, “we’re actually going beyond what we can pack,” and the kitchen recently added a second shift just for packing and related tasks.
“It’s an eternal cycle,” said Rose, a longtime confectioner with 45 years in the business.
Much of the space in the kitchen is used to store complete products but for which tests are carried out by a third party laboratory. The Rose team sends in samples of each batch of edibles and about a week later the approved product is put on store shelves.
Rose said the delay in testing is why dispensaries like INSA don’t offer baked – and more perishable – edibles like brownies, but baked goods could become available if regulators of the State authorize consumption on the spot.
“The west coast is faster. It’s a lot more flexible, ”Rose said of cannabis regulations. “Things are pretty tight around here.”
By law, there is a limit of 100 mg of THC dose for each recreational product and a limit of 5 mg for each serving. INSA bars are made from 20 pieces of chocolate, each dosed at 5 mg; the company is about to introduce its Big Bar, a 100 piece chocolate bar with doses of 1 mg in each piece.
“This is the biggest chocolate bar I have ever seen in my life,” Gallagher said before Rose showed the Gazette a smaller 70-piece sample mold the size of a hardcover book. .
“We’re trying to make a giant bar because people love chocolate, and they want to have more chocolate” with the same dose of cannabis, Rose said.
The company plans to introduce cannabis-infused butter and olive oil in the near future, Rose said.
INSA, headquartered in Chicopee, also has outlets in Springfield and Salem.