Cannabis, both in its dried flower and oil forms, was legalized in Canada on October 17th, 2018. Though it is legal to make edibles and even gift them to your friends (at a limit of 30 grams), Canadians are still patiently waiting for edibles to become federally legalized for recreational retail. We at Skunk Magazine thought it would be helpful and educational to support our readers who are just beginning to cook or bake at home with cannabis by exploring some of the necessary basics. With new technological breakthroughs in cannabis happening so often, there’s a lot of demand for introductory cannabis education and how it pertains to edibles. As always, we’re here to help!
We’ve all seen the comedic trope of the cannabis user trying to get rid of his or her “stash” by eating the entirety of the dried flower. But as cannabis education grows amongst the masses, a lot of myths are being debunked. Take the myth of “greening out” by eating dried flower, for example. We know this doesn’t happen because decarboxylation, or the process of heating cannabis to create its psychoactive effects, needs to occur first. This applies to vaping, smoking, and yes, eating cannabis as well.
Ben Rispin of Skunk Magazine spoke with “cannabis sommelier” Guy Degrace of HEXO Corp and one of HEXO’s frequent collaborators, Chef Laurent Dagenais out of Montreal, Québec, to discuss cannabis cooking tips and tricks, and to further explain the process decarboxylation.
Chef Laurent explained, “To put it in a simple way, [decarboxylation] is the process that activates the compounds found in cannabis, such as THC and CBD. To really get those cannabis compounds activated, the cannabis needs to be heated to a certain temperature.”
He continued, “Technically, you can eat cannabis flower as is. It’s not bad for you. But you should make sure that when you cook with cannabis, the product is already activated.”
Degrace added that the plant decarboxylates naturally throughout its life cycle. “What it’s doing at that time is taking the THCA, then through the process of decarboxylation, separating the acid molecule ( the A in THCA), which makes it ‘bindable’ to your endocannabinoid system.” This makes it THC-neutral or simply THC.
Decarbing can also affect the way a dish is presented and tastes, as can the different strains and terpenes you use. Chef Laurent had some advice on the subject: “After you’re done ‘decarbing’ your cannabis, you will alter the terpene profile, which can help to lose the strong, pungent smell of cannabis. If someone has a really hard time with the taste and smell of cannabis, there are thousands of ways to hide the taste with this method.”
Chef Laurent acknowledged that it’s not always easy to get your preferred cannabis strain, so the goal for any aspiring cannabis chef should be to pair your meal with the matching terpene profile of the dish you’re attempting to prepare. “If you have a strong lemon kush for example, which has high limonene terpene, it’s always great to pair that with something that pairs well with lemon or citrus.”
Degrace says that for any beginner, the most important part of cooking with cannabis is titration, or the idea that you should “start low and go slow.” He explains, “If you’re making any kind of edibles at home, and you’re not sure how to dose or what cannabinoids are going to be introduced [through decarboxylation], you don’t want to eat too much as there can be an improper distribution of cannabinoids throughout your cooking.”
Chef Laurent added, “I would also recommend not trying edibles under the influence of alcohol or on an empty stomach.”
As a parent, Degrace went on to express the importance of educating kids around edibles, something that many parents may be concerned about. “I have very young kids. I think about how I’m going to discuss cannabis and edibles with them all the time. I think my approach will be to be honest, so they grow to be responsible cannabis consumers as adults. But while they’re young, I’m going to reinforce that edibles and cannabis are not for children, much like beer, wine or spirits.”
When asked about the best infused dish they have either created or tried, the two were quick to jump in. Degrace shared, “Cannabis-infused Wagyu Brisket. It was the most delicious thing I’ve ever had, the presentation and experience were amazing.” When asked the same question, Chef Laurent had this to say: “That’s a really tough question for a chef, but since I’m from Quebec, I’ll say the cannabis-infused poutine that I made in one of my first videos. That was a very special one, [since it had] cannabis-infused maple syrup and bacon.”
Watch Chef Laurent’s Cannabis-Infused Poutine video here.