We interviewed Robyn Lawrence, author of The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook, to learn more about how she got started cooking with cannabis and the future of marijuana on the menu.
Hear more about her culinary journey with cannabis on Tuesday, May 24 at NRA Show during her education session, Art Meets Science: Cooking with Cannabis. Register today.
What sparked your interest in cooking with cannabis?
Robyn Lawrence: I actually was introduced to it by my doctor to help relieve some health issues. I had tried several different treatments and medications, but nothing was working. In 2009, my gynecologist prescribed medical marijuana. After so many other things not working, marijuana actually worked. And that opened up a whole new world for me.
Around the same time, a lot of dispensaries were popping up in Boulder. I didn’t want to smoke, but edibles that were available were mostly sweets. I found that there wasn’t one good cookbook for someone who wanted to cook with cannabis, so it became my passion project for the last 5 years.
Changing public perception to understand the health and wellness benefits is part of the de-stigmatization of cannabis. Coming from your own experience, how do you explain that to people?
RL: One of the biggest things I focus on is health. There are so many people with health issues and I think cannabis is a God-given plant that’s natural medicine. We’re going to prove it while doing more research on it as more states legalize it. Up until now, the research has only been anecdotal because we haven’t been allowed to do any actual studies due to its illegal status in most places. It doesn’t cure cancer, but it does HELP, and we can prove it once we can invest in that critical research. Cancer patients can and are using it to replace pharmaceuticals to manage their health issues. The biggest audience we have for this is Baby Boomers. As they get older and suffer from more health issues, they are turning to marijuana for relief. The more and more we get people normalizing it, the more we’ll be able to have solid research to support its health benefits.
What is the most unique dish you’ve made with marijuana?
RL: I’ve made pesto out of fresh fan leaf, which aren’t in and of themselves psychoactive. You can infuse oil without the psychoactivity. It’s a vegetable and it’s cool that we’re finding use for the leaves because they’re super nutritious--they contain lots of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and they’re a complete protein. They’re super nutritious and full of anti-inflammatory properties. They contain the whole plant and lots of nutrients: antioxidants, complete protein, vitamins, minerals, and omegas.
How do you handle different types of marijuana and their distinct flavor profiles when cooking?
RL: Legalized choices and variety allows you to start playing with flavors. When you think about things like basil, there’s so many varieties, which get complicated because you’re also dealing with two sides: flavor profile or endless varieties. Similarly, with marijuana the flavors range from savory to sweet, so it’s a matter of putting on your good cook’s hat. If you’re making something that’s a fish dish, you can play with a lemony marijuana for butter infusion. One type might have a blueberry taste, or maybe you have one that’s chocolatey, and experimenting with flavor combinations gives you a better understanding of how to pair.
Where do you see opportunities for the culinary world to embrace cooking with marijuana?
RL: The sea change in the number of chefs who are working with cannabis between 2009 and now is exponential. You really had to search for these guys in the beginning and now there are so many chefs doing catering, edibles, and private dinners. We’re at the very beginning of what will be a huge explosion. In Boulder, every couple of months there are cannabis dinners that go for $150 a set and sell out every time. Colorado is the most progressive state in terms of cannabis reform, so for the moment any movement in the culinary world will be rooted in education and private clients. A lot of chefs are taking on clients specifically to help them customize cannabis cuisine to help address health issues.
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