Cooking with Mary Jane

By Jonathan Hiltz.

Over the last few decades, marijuana has been called everything from the devil’s weed to the best thing on earth. With recreational pot available for purchase legally in Colorado and soon to be on sale in Washington, many people believe this is the beginning of the end of prohibition for this long-suffering plant.

The continuing green rush down South and the well-known love affair Canadians have with pot has given rise to a surprising new industry: gourmet cannabis cuisine.

Much of this new ganja gastronomy is happening in recently opened restaurants within the legal and almost-legal States. One such gourmet eatery making headlines for its weed and food pairings is Denver’s own Hapa Sushi. Their menu offers marijuana-enhanced selections such as Pakalolo Shrimp with Pakistani Kush, Honey Miso Salmon with Sour OG and Katsu Curry with Blue Dream.

For the lightweights who are not used to the magical ingredients, Hapa Sushi claims that their dining room is ”ergonomically designed to reduce paranoia.“

Then there’s California, which was the first State to legalize medical cannabis in 1996. They are expecting a vote in November 2014 to allow recreational pot sales just like Colorado and Washington. Right now it’s available to those with a medical marijuana card, but in the tinsel-town state you can obtain a card for everything from a sprained wrist to trouble sleeping.

With your card in hand you can head down to the Elemental Wellness Center in San Jose, a medical marijuana collective, and try everything from Auntie Delores’s Cheese Crackers or Shaman Healer’s Mini Pecan Pies, to pot-infused beef jerky. In California, pot dispensaries in some areas outnumber Starbucks, so gourmet cuisine is sure to follow.

Here in Canada, pot lovers stare longingly at the US developments, but the lack of legal regulation has not stopped the evolution of marijuana-friendly eateries, cannabis cafes and vapour lounges. These establishments do not sell pot, but welcome the cannabis enthusiast to toke away in peace and enjoy their food and drinks.

Toronto, for example, has seven lounges; the newest one is a gourmet grilled cheese restaurant called Get Melted. Located in the Gay Village (around Church and Wellesley Streets in the east end of the city) Get Melted is a gooey slice of heaven for the cannabis enthusiast, boasting nine delicious sandwiches on the menu. There is no pot in the food and you need to bring your own, but simply sitting in the lounge for longer than 10 minutes might just do the trick.

If you are interested in this new trend but still shy of trying it in public, there is a treasure trove of recipes online that you can enjoy, as long as you find the secret ingredient.

The key to cooking with marijuana is understanding that THC is fat soluble. THC is the active ingredient in pot that makes you laugh at the cat for no reason at all and makes The Bachelor actually enjoyable to watch.

Many of the recipes call for cannabutter, which is marijuana-infused butter. Once you have that, you can essentially cook any recipe that requires butter or cream and use marijuana-laced ingredients to turn your muffin into an evening rather than just a passing snack.

To make cannabutter, you will need an ounce of cannabis and a pound of butter. Grind the cannabis into a fine powder using a coffee grinder (remove coffee remnants first).

Then, in a saucepan, melt the butter over low-medium heat. Stir in the cannabis powder. Once the mixture starts coming together, reduce the heat to low and leave it for at least 30 minutes. Check to make sure it doesn’t burn. Then put the liquid cannabutter through a strainer or cheesecloth into a bowl and let it harden in the fridge. You can then use it for toast, in eggs, muffins, cakes, any recipe that requires butter or oil as a base. Heck, you could baste the Thanksgiving turkey with it and never have another holiday family argument again.

A quick note, the amount of weed you use in the butter will determine how powerful it is, so if you don’t want your mother-in-law to meld with the couch for five hours after she eats your special scones, use less. Some people use as little as one-quarter of an ounce per pound of butter, but regular cannabis users will want the full shebang.

Other recipes (found online at or include garlic and herb mashed potatoes, and wake-and-bake breakfast sandwiches. Of course, keep any and all pot products and edibles away from the kids.

Either way, whether you choose to try it at home or book a flight to the Colorado Rockies, cannabis cuisine is an experience that offers up a whole new dimension of gastronomy, one that will put you in a whole new dimension.

Journalist and TV producer Jonathan Hiltz felt it was high time someone covered the cannabis cuisine beat. He agreed to do so kicking and screaming (more like lobbying and volunteering).