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Marijuana Munchies: Pot is the Next Big Cooking Spice

Guest blogger Neal Pollack has been a satirist (Vanity Fair), a sexologist (Nerve.com), and a cultural anthropologist (McSweeney's). Here, Pollack will explore all the wild, weird, and noteworthy stories you may have missed.

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As marijuana crawls toward legalization at a pace that would vex even the most frustrated proponents of gay marriage, strange news accounts have begun to appear. Witness this recent Associated Press piece reporting on the "trend" of marijuana-based restaurants in Denver. At the recently opened Ganja Gourmet, patrons with a medical marijuana card can buy a "Panama Red Pizza" for $89 or a $12 serving of vegetarian "LaGanga". Meanwhile, a married couple who own the somehow-not-surprising combination of a medical-marijuana dispensary and a Caribbean restaurant say they plan to start offering cannabis cooking classes in the New Year.

We've long been advocates of marijuana as one of the world's gustatory delights, on par with such great foodstuffs as raw-milk cheese, tea and dark chocolate. But the problem with these Denver joints, it sounds like, is that they're all about getting high, as usual. The AP article spends several paragraphs focusing on the recipe for "cannabutter," the Tollhouse chocolate-chip cookie dough of any beginning marijuana chef. Quoth the guy who hosts the cooking segment on the awesomely amateurish Cannabis Planet web TV show, "when I started using marijuana, I was eating a brownie a day. I gained a ton of weight."

Of course he did, because if you eat a marijuana brownie every day, you're not going to be able to stand up, ever. The guy then goes on to talk about the "possibilities" of marijuana cooking, but it's pretty clear from the piece that being stoned, not eating well, remains primary. Here's a sample: "The pot-infused oils and butters have a greenish tint and an earthy taste, but chefs say the flavor can easily be masked with garlic or other herbs and spices." Sure they can.

Until marijuana is liberated from its need to dissolve in cooking fat, thereby creating a highly-concentrated THC compound, then advocates of marijuana-based cooking can never truly practice their craft in the open. We call for marijuana to be used in a non-fat-soluble situation. Let's see someone who works in a real restaurant cook with weed as a straight-up spice, in a way that doesn't get you high. In fact, we issue a Top Chef-style Quickfire challenge to that effect. And we're definitely volunteering to judge.

—Neal Pollack

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