Photo credit: Tracy Eller
Consuming cannabis is nothing new—in fact, it’s a practice that has been embedded in the human experience since the very beginning. Now, readers can learn more about the history of cannabis as food from acclaimed author Robyn Griggs Lawrence. Inspired by her personal relationship with the plant, Griggs Lawrence has authored two fascinating books that delve into the complex and poetic relationship between food and cannabis. Following her upscale book, The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook: Feel-Good Food for Home Cooks, Griggs Lawrence has recently published Pots in Pans: A History of Eating Cannabis, giving curious minds a plethora of information about cannabis and food that is so desperately needed. CULTURE had the pleasure of connecting with Griggs Lawrence to learn more about her as an author, patient and industry professional.
When did you first become interested in the history of cannabis as food?
In 2009, I visited my first medical marijuana dispensary in Boulder, Colorado, and was surprised to realize that cannabis was an underutilized food source—actually a vegetable. Back in those days, dispensary shelves were lined with jars of the produce for consumers to choose from (unlike today’s Apple-like stores full of vaping products and concentrates) with culinary names like Blueberry and Chocolope. As a writer and editor, I was naturally curious about this nutritious, medically beneficial plant that had been kept from us for decades. As a consumer and patient, I had to know more.
What is your personal relationship with cannabis?
My doctor recommended cannabis in 2009 for dysmenorrhea and associated symptoms. I had been a natural living advocate for decades, and I had tried pretty much every natural remedy—and even a pharmaceutical—to deal with these issues. Cannabis worked when nothing else would. I made it my mission to share this plant with the world and to work to make sure everyone, everywhere, could benefit from it.
In addition to being a bestselling author, how else are you involved in the cannabis industry?
I do presentations and workshops in legal MMJ and adult-use states to teach people how to cook with cannabis. I am a contributing editor for Sensi magazine, helping as the company expands into legal markets across the country. I’m the co-owner of Cannabis Kitchen Events; we prepare cannabis-infused meals for private clients in the Denver area. I also work with Cosmic Sister, a group that champions women’s right to journey with sacred plants, including cannabis.
Why is the history of cannabis as a food important to share? What do you hope readers will gain from reading Pots in Pans?
I believe we write history books so we won’t repeat past mistakes. Cannabis has been regarded and utilized as one of humankind’s most sacred and valuable plants—providing food, fiber and medicine—since humans’ earliest days. It continues to evolve with us, and when the final chapter is written, our current prohibition will be merely a small stain in a history as rife with feasting and fortifying as with persecution and propaganda. I believe once readers understand how important cannabis food has been to humans down through the ages, they’ll be inspired to right the supreme injustices that outlawing a useful plant has brought about.
“Cannabis has been regarded and utilized as one of humankind’s most sacred and valuable plants—providing food, fiber and medicine—since humans’ earliest days.”
In addition to delving into a detailed history of cannabis in general, you also write about the current industry and how cannabis edibles have been affected by legalization in different markets. What do you predict for the future of cannabis edibles?
I believe cannabis-infused food and beverages will rule the cannabis market in the 2020s, especially as Big Ag and Big Food move in and scientists form the world’s top food and pharma corporations put their minds to the plant. The Human Genome Project has now mapped the cannabis genome, opening the door to even more sophisticated research. Edibles sales are predicted to hit $4.1 billion in the U.S. and Canada and $32 billion globally by 2022. Consumers are gravitating to edibles because they’re discreet, and the effects can last longer and offer more intense highs and better pain and anxiety relief than smoking.
Your book shares different cannabis food recipes from various time periods and regions of the world. How did you uncover such a wide variety of cannabis edible recipes? Is there one recipe that stands out as your favorite, and if so, why?
I’m a research nerd, no doubt about it. I found obscure, sometimes ancient books—most in dusty corners of the internet—that contained recipes. My favorite is so simple—an old Polish folk recipe that calls for roasting and bruising cannabis seeds, mixing them with salt, and spreading them on crusty bread. With salad and a kombucha, this makes for a perfect lunch.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
It’s important to point out that it will never be okay that (mostly) white men in suits rake in millions on cannabis while others go to jail over the very same plant. Everyone who is making money in this industry should be working tirelessly to change that.