As a follow-up to my post about recent travels to Denver, Co. I mentioned in that article the state of Colorado has legalized cannabis for adult use in the privacy of their own home. Under Colorado law it is now lawful for an individual to purchase up to one ounce of cannabis per day. Here is a link to a quick overview of the law.
For non-natives, ESL students and others who may be unfamiliar with the American system of law, we have before us a dynamic issue that the public has pushed back in the face of government. The issue of cannabis legalization. Cannabis, according to a 2015 survey conducted by Pew Research Center has been admittedly used by nearly half of the U.S. population. And while 69% of the citizenry believes that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, the federal government remains steadfast in their unscientific determination that cannabis is on a par with heroin and cocaine! Leave it to the government to get it totally wrong. Regardless of your thoughts on the issue of cannabis legalization, it is clear that many Americans don’t view weed as something that should be cause for incarceration, property seizure or fines. Hence, there are a growing number of states willing to press this issue and assert a reasoned position for legalization of cannabis. In America, it is often the case that change only comes after enough people demand change. Such is the case of marijuana legalization.
Due to the extreme vice tax of 28% levied by the state, prices for weed were not cheap, though quality was good and it was enjoyable to see that competitiveness has spurred on creative growth. One of the fastest growing areas of the cannabis industry is in the production of concentrates. Essentially, concentrates are what everyone is after in terms of why people use cannabis. Here is a good link to explain about some of the many various cannabis concentrates available. In rough terms taking one ounce of raw dried plant material (cannabis buds) and processing it into shatter, wax or budder reduces the weight by as much as 75%. Cannabis, when used in its concentrated form eliminates the dirtiness of smoking weed. Concentrates take away all the leafy stuff and their associated nasty carcinogens and what remains is the essence of cannabis – the THC.
THC or tetra-hydro-cannabinol – the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
There are basically two main categories of cannabis;
cannabis sativa – cannabis sativa strains offer a more cerebral affect/high, often with a spicy or citric flavor, the plants are long & tall and indigenous to tropical climates with a longer flowering cycle.
cannabis indica– short bushy plants native to north-central Asia, resistant to frost with a shorter flowering cycle, known for high potency with tendency to cause a somatic affect and often used for relief of chronic pain. Frequently, the flowers have a pungent skunk-like aroma.
The use of concentrates is most common in cooking applications to make edible cannabis products, but vaporizing seems to be all the rage. Perhaps the increase in people vaporizing is a good thing. It is a healthier way to ingest. Vaping also offers a higher degree of discretion. This link shares a good explanation of the difference between vaporizing and smoking.
Colorado Cannabis Tours offers a few different options for getting a closer look at the Colorado cannabis scene. Their staff are friendly and knowledgeable. If you are interested in learning more about cannabis or just looking to have a fun intro to the weed scene in Denver, I recommend Colorado Cannabis Tours. I was able to squeeze into a cooking class that was informative and very well done. Chef Torrin Panico, a fellow alumni of the Culinary Institute of America, gave a terrific 2 hour presentation that highlighted the essential element of extracting THC from the green leafy product and infusing it into coconut oil. The class comes complete with copious bong hits…And several fat Euro-style joints in circulation during the lesson made note taking a challenge. These are some of the sacrifices your intrepid author makes for the benefit of you, my dear reader!
The process of taking raw product (dried cannabis buds) and drawing out the essential THC is simple enough. It just requires low heat and slow process of toasting the buds, then infusing the oil. When the job is complete the home chef/alchemist will have a store of cannabis infused oil that can be added to any recipe. Chef Panico’s info about how to determine proper dosage was also useful.
Some helpful books on the subject;
1- Marijuana Cooking; good medicine made easy. by Bliss Cameron and Veronica Green (2005 paperback)
2- Herb – mastering the art of cooking with cannabis. by Melissa Parks and Laurie Wolf (2015 paperback)