Excited About Medical Marijuana? Prepare to Get Baked

Canna from Heaven?: The better butter may ease some suffering.

Editor's note: "Baked" is a new series that will appear on New Times' food blog, Chow Bella (, to get you ready for the implementation of Prop 203, the medical marijuana law.

The first time I made brownies, I was living with my mom and nana. My mother had moved in to take care of nana, who had breast cancer, then bone cancer.

My nana was a beautiful, large Hungarian woman who was my best friend, or as I would call her, "my beautiful nana." I would often sneak in late at night so as not to disturb her, then creep, ninja-style, halfway up the staircase to make sure she was silent or snoring and not moaning in pain. Thankfully, one night I heard nothing. So a friend and I proceeded with brownie experimentation — not properly, but good enough. The smell of marijuana and chocolate wafted through the walls and crept up through the ceiling, only to awaken Nana. After all, she had a "love affair with food and no need for a man."

She wanted the warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven brownie, but I did not dare give her one. She was on numerous medications and who, for fuck's sake, gives their nana a "special brownie"? So I made up a lie, saying we couldn't share.

Later that night, as I crept up to my bedroom, my body feeling light and painless, I heard Nana moaning in pain. I crawled into bed with her and massaged her aching arm, wishing I had given her a brownie so that she could feel what I felt and sleep peacefully for the first time in a very long time. Knowing what I know now, I regret not sharing even more.

Years later, a dear friend of mine lost her mother to cancer. She was her caregiver and none of the drugs prescribed worked. She didn't know about the process of making "canna butter," or oil, or about any other medicinal use for marijuana, so she did what she thought would work best, smashing some cheap marijuana to a powder with a mortar and pestle and putting it in capsules. Unbeknownst to her, eating the pot was not the most effective way to relieve her mother's pain, but it did give her some measure of relief.

Even years after that, this friend of mine went to see another loved one — this time, her great aunt — suffering from excruciating and crippling arthritis, but she was prepared. She had made butter infused with marijuana. She spread some on a piece of bread and then covered it with peanut butter. My friend sat at her bedside while she ate the "special toast." For about 30 minutes, they sat and talked, then her aunt said, "I think I'm going to sleep now."

The next morning, when she was asked how she slept, she replied, with tears in her eyes, "That was the best, most restful night of sleep I've had in years."

My friend left the butter for her and returned to Phoenix with a new sense of purpose, feeling as though she had done something great, watching this work for someone she loves.

There is a stigma associated with marijuana use. The lazy video gamer and those damn, dirty hippies, burning one and trying to wax philosophical. There are examples everywhere, and I'm sure everyone knows at least someone who fits a stereotype. The most destructive part of this stigma is that it can prevent those who may benefit from its therapeutic aspects from even asking about it.

Finally, Arizona voters decided to make marijuana legal for people suffering with chronic (no pun intended) pain.

If you don't agree with the law or don't believe in the medicinal properties of marijuana, this blog series probably isn't for you. But, I would like you to continue reading, because maybe I can change your mind.

And for those of you on board, I'm going to tell you how to make concoctions and tinctures, as well as give you some wonderful tips, recipes, and ideas that can help either you or a loved one in pain. You never know when the time will come when you are sitting beside your mother, father, aunt, sister, best friend, or lover, watching the meds not work and feeling helpless because there is nothing you can do. This blog's for you.

And just so you know, my name is not Polly Cooper. I am actually a baker and work for a local business. So, until Prop 203 goes into effect, I will have to remain your humble, anonymous informant. I promise to teach you that there's more to eating pot than a late-night batch of brownies. Although if you'd like to make brownies, you can grab my favorite recipe at Chow Bella (, whip up a batch of canna butter (see sidebar for recipe) and get baked, er, baking.

The Better Butter

I'm going to help you make canna butter.

Now, there are several ways you can make it, but the super-concentrated one I am about to show you is my personal favorite. This way you get the most butter for your buck. After all, how much weed do you want to waste? None. The answer is none, just in case any of you out there were wondering.

One last thing before we begin canna butter 101: Save your stems! Keep them in a jar! They contain a shit-ton of THC — unless you are smoking shwag, and if you are, please discard. Once you have filled up a nice-size jar, use that in your butter instead of your precious buds.

Things you will need:

• Heavy-bottom saucepan,

• Rubber spatula (do not use wood, or you may lose some THC to the spoon),

• 1 stick of unsalted butter,

• 3.5 grams (for most, an eighth of) kind bud, medicinal,

• Cheesecloth (found in the baking aisle of most supermarkets),

• Shallow, wide bowl,

• Plastic bag,

• Timer,

• Grinder (do not grind your weed in the same grinder as you do your coffee, unless you have removed all the oils and it's spotless).

1. Slowly melt the butter into the pan. Remember to keep on the lowest setting. Use a double boiler if you want to be extra cautious about potentially burning the butter. 2. Grind your marijuana 3. After the butter has melted, pour in the marijuana. 4. Stir every 15 minutes for about an hour and 30 minutes or an hour and 45 minutes. 5. Before you remove from heat, set up your bowl, covering it with two cheesecloth layers.

6. If you have a friend hanging out, get them to hold the cheesecloth, while you pour into it, over the bowl. Be careful, the canna butter is hot! If you are all alone, use a rubber band to secure the cheesecloth to the bowl. 7. Take a plastic bag, preferably a turkey bag, and wrap it around the cheesecloth and wring out all the butter into the bowl. Twist and squeeze until not a single drop flows through. Scrape any excess from the plastic into the bowl. 8. Let sit, cool, and form, then wrap with plastic wrap and keep it refrigerated. You may also freeze it if you don't plan on using it soon or often.

Tips: Avoid swirling the butter to keep it from sticking to the sides and burning.

Notice the changes in color of the butter as you stir every 15 minutes.

Put your face down and smell it. You should be able to smell the butter and earthiness of the weed. It should begin to smell nutty; beware the burnt-popcorn smell.

If you can refrain from using it — as hard as that may be — save your concoction for my series of posts on Chow Bella, where I will give you some recipes to use with that butter. Although, if you want a small taste, spread some inside a warm croissant with some strawberry habanero jelly or toast with peanut butter or a cracker with cheese.

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