Cooks Corner: Oh Can-nabis!

The Canadian cannabis hype surrounding legalization is upon us. The Cannabis Act goes into effect today, October 17, 2018. What this means for Canadians of legal age (18 or 19 or older, depending on province or territory), is that should you choose to buy, possess, grow, or use cannabis, you can now do so legally within the boundaries of the law. Cannabis products, such as food and drinks, can be made at home as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products. Question is, what is this ever-growing fascination with cannabis? I believe this question is subject for a healthy debate. Cannabis is a matter of mature, responsible use.

Cannabis Use

Despite the stigma, modern cultures continue to cultivate and consume the cannabis plant for medicinal, ceremonial, and nutritional purposes, and as a mood-enhancing agent. Hemp, a nonpsychoactive variety of cannabis, is made from the stalk of the plant. Hemp is a renewable resource used in thousands of products. Considered the world’s oldest domesticated crop, it can be used to make textiles, rope, fabric, biofuel, beauty products, and food.

There are a number of ways to use cannabis that do not involve smoking a joint, or lighting a pipe. Delivery methods as I learned from my research into a major change to Canadian cannabis laws now in effect and what it means for Canadians, also include vaping, tinctures, suppositories, transdermal, topicals, capsules, and edibles. Vaporizing, or vaping, heat cannabis to activate the cannabinoids and produce a smokeless vapour. Cannabis topicals are infused lotions, oils, and salves that are rubbed on the skin for localized treatment and pain relief. Topicals do not enter the bloodstream. Cannabis capsules, also known as canna-capsules, are “food-grade” capsules that have been filled with concentrated cannabis oil. Capsules are said to provide similar effects as edibles, minus the added calories. On the subject of edibles, the Cannabis Act states that Canadians of legal age (18 or 19 or older, depending on province or territory), would be able legally to make cannabis products, such as food and drinks, at home as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products. The Government of Canada state on their website that Cannabis edible products and concentrates will be legal for sale approximately one year after the Cannabis Act has come into force on October 17th, 2018.

Cooking with Cannabis

The edibles category includes any food or beverage that contains cannabis and is in no way limited to concepts of desserts and baked goods. A competitive cannabis cooking show called Cooking On High, first of its kind now available for streaming on Netflix, is one example showcasing the recreational use of cannabis in diverse recipes. Each episode, two chefs prepare “mouthwatering” marijuana-infused dishes for a panel of very “chill” celebrity judges. One especially eye-opening episode I watched is titled “Going Green.” In this episode, marijuana goes meatless in a vegetarian face-off, with a quinoa and black bean puree competing against a stoner soufflé. Carrot Ginger Soup, Stuffed Sweet Potato, Pan-Roasted Cauliflower, and Easy Mac and Cheese, are examples of savory recipes that can be prepared with cannabis. Edibles are beloved for their simplicity, prolonged duration, and the fact that no smoking is involved, but it is important to note some pros and cons.

The effects of ingesting cannabis have a slow onset but last longer than when cannabis is inhaled. The dose can be difficult to predict, and if you are unfamiliar with the dosing of a particular edible, it can be easy to overdo it. Edibles should always be labelled and stored away from children, youth, and pets. Use responsibly. Know the health effects to your body. Know the laws. See the Canadian Cannabis Act to keep informed.

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