Londoner Tim Pilcher smoked so much weed he developed asthma. The process of “taking a plant, setting it alight and inhaling fumes” seemed a bit crazy to Pilcher anyway — “so the next logical step was to cook with it.”
Over the past 15 years Pilcher has used herb as an herb, and the results of his culinary experiments are presented in The Cannabis Cookbook: Over 35 Recipes for Meals, Munchies and More. Unlike previous marijuana cookbooks (offering no-brainer instructions on how to prepare PB&J when the munchies strike), Pilcher’s slim volume offers practical guidance on how to fly on food, and ways to avoid the careless measurements that will put your dinner guests in a stupor for 12 hours (as once happened to Pilcher).
Grass fritters, charas curry, and chocolate- chip koma cookies are among his favorite recipes: “It’s about comfort food. It’s food that you feel nice with. Carby, warming, interior foods.”
The foundation for many of these wintery recipes is provided by cannabis ghee (clarified butter), cannabutter, and an alcohol-based cannabis tincture. The goal of each process is to extract as much psychoactive THC as possible. For the fats and oils, the ratio is surprisingly low: An ounce of herb simmers in a pound of butter for about an hour. The quantities of the active ingredient vary wildly from recipe to recipe, from an eighth-teaspoon ground bud for the Stoned Spicy Salsa to one-and-a-half cups cannabis ghee for the Roasted Wasted Vegetables.
Pilcher recommends starting out with small quantities, emphasizing that the high you eat differs significantly from the high you smoke (where the effects are almost immediate). For some recipes he advises you leave two hours for the buzz to kick in, and another five to six hours to ride the wave.
Eating cannabis has been practiced for centuries in Asia and the Middle East. French literary bigwigs Alexandre Dumas and Charles Baudelaire were card-carrying members of the Club des Hashichins (Hash Eaters Club). Alice B. Toklas’s eponymous cookbook contains perhaps the most famous mention of culinary cannabis, stating that “euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter; ecstatic reveries and extensions of one’s personality on several simultaneous planes are to be complacently expected” from her hashish fruit bars.
But Pilcher points out that the practice isn’t all fun and games. One of the more fascinating themes of his book is the use of hash home cooking to alleviate suffering in older people.
“The ex-hippie crowd has grown up with it their whole lives, and they want those pain-relief benefits as well,” says Pilcher, whose creations have provided some relief for his father, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease. And there’s evidence of a small, committed organization of British grannies — like 66-year-old Patricia Tabram — who prepare and distribute ganja meals to their arthritic friends.
It’s no surprise that Pilcher advocates the decriminalization of marijuana. “I just find the whole thing laughable. Here’s a situation where the government finds a plant to be illegal. If they discovered that carrots prepared in a particular way got you high, would they make carrots
Until the leaf is legalized, Pilcher recommends planting your own (seeds are widely available on the internet; the crime is in making them grow) or practicing a bit of guerilla gardening on an untended patch of soil. Then take your harvest, preheat the oven to 420, and get baked. •