Alibi V.23 No.38 • Sept 18-24, 2014 

Food for Thought

Goode (Pot) Cookery

The basics of edible marijuana munchies

Probably not pot brownies. But they *could* be!
Probably not pot brownies. But they *could* be!
I used to joke that the only way I’d ever use marijuana is with a prescription and a brownie. But why limit yourself to brownies? Dispensaries in Colorado and Washington are stocking shelves with chocolates and gummy snacks labeled with exact milligrams of THC, while home cooks are taking matters into their own hands. They’re opening a world of culinary possibilities for legally acquired marijuana—far beyond the typical pot brownie. And it all begins with an ingredient developed in India some time in the 10th century.

Back then, Indians brewed up a popular mind-altering drink known as bhang. It’s still used in India today, especially during the Holi celebrations. Bhang is basically milk and spices mixed with ghee (a type of clarified butter) that has been melted down and steeped with cannabis.

They’re opening a world of culinary possibilities for legally acquired marijuana—far beyond the typical pot brownie. And it all begins with an ingredient developed in India some time in the 10th century.

Steeping the butter proved an effective way of extracting the psychoactive effects of the cannabis buds. Essentially, these guys figured out decarboxylation—the process of turning tetrahydrocannabinolic acid into fat-soluble tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

Seems legit.
Seems legit.
It turns out that marijuana-steeped butter, or cannabutter, can be used as a replacement in virtually any recipe that calls for butter or oil. So why stop with brownies? Substitute cannabutter in your quiche recipe and you have “magic quiche.” Drizzle over popcorn for “potcorn.” And you’ve got to try it on homemade sopapillas.

I asked a culinary student her opinions on the use of cannabutter. She requested anonymity but was happy to walk me through the steps of home-brewing this magical substance. In essence, you’re putting buds and butter (a quarter ounce of ground buds to one stick of butter makes for a good proportion) into a saucepan on low heat for 45 minutes to an hour. Be careful not to burn the butter, and don’t forget to strain out the bits of cannabis left at the end.

When I asked what her favorite pot dish was, she answered, “Spaghetti! I like to butter the noodles with the cannabutter then add a little sauce.”

Having cooked with cannabutter fairly extensively, she says she can detect when there is weed in her butter by the taste. But bolder flavors, like garlic-riddled spaghetti sauce, do well to cover it up.

So how does the high from consuming marijuana differ from smoking it?

“It’s definitely more of a body high,” She explained. “You feel really relaxed and calm.”

When asked for advice to give first-time hash eaters, she urged people to go slow. “It's better to munch on a little, give it time to digest, then go from there.” Expect to wait up to an hour before feeling the effects.

So curl up on a couch with some movies on hand—she recommends the Harry Potter series—and enjoy.

As with any drug, there are some words of caution to adhere to while using. First of all, when cooking at home always label your leftovers and keep them out of reach of children and others who might mistake them for “unaltered” food. The last thing you need is a roommate or spouse unknowingly ingesting a drug. And although it’s been depicted as a great prank in television and movies, don’t ever ever ever give someone marijuana-containing food without telling them. It’s not only bad juju—it’s illegal. Just ask Thomas Cunningham, a former University of Colorado student who pled guilty in 2013 to inducing consumption of a controlled substance by fraudulent means after bringing pot-laced brownies to a potluck in history class. He’ll be serving two years for this “prank.”

Potheads have an unfair reputation for irresponsibility and forgetfulness. Don’t further that stereotype along. When enjoying some cannabis snacks from the comfort of your own home, make sure you’ve blocked off enough time—at least a few hours—free from any obligations. It’s a good idea to eat a real meal beforehand and keep unmedicated snacks on hand for when you start feeling peckish. The last thing you want is to overdo your THC intake just because you got the munchies.

And once you’re in that altered state of mind, imagine the potential culinary possibilities of fully legal marijuana edibles in New Mexico. Who wouldn’t mind bringing home a dozen ganja-tortillas or a slice of pot-filled pie from some of our local restaurants? Who knows? Maybe in the future we’ll have a Best Cannabis Concoction for the Best of Burque awards.