In Pennsylvania, medical marijuana patients can’t purchase edibles in dispensaries. If patients want to medicate by eating cookies, brownies, or chocolate, they are going to have to cook, bake, or construct those goodies at home themselves. It is legal, however, for medical marijuana patients to make edibles with flower bought from a dispensary.
And that is where Takia Mictchell comes in.
Three years ago, she was relying on antidepressants and other medications to manage her PTSD, brought on by seven years of service in the military. The antidepressants left her with unpleasant side effects, to the point where she stopped taking them. At the suggestion of a friend, she turned to cannabidiol, aka CBD. Today, CBD is Mitchell’s only medication.
But Mitchell isn’t a smoker and she doesn’t like to vape. She is a self-taught CBD cook, incorporating the treatment into all of her meals, including snacks.
In the coming weeks, Mitchell, now a patient care specialist with Cresco Yeltrah (CY+) and owner of Tokey’s Edibles, will pass on her knowledge through seminars at the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Education Center (PAMMEC). She will host a series of classes exploring ways the therapeutic effects of both CBD and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can be consumed.
To grow this knowledge, Mitchell has become a mentor to new cannabinoid chefs. Cooking with CBD and THC, together or separately, is not easy, though the technique is identical. There are three basic concepts: the process of decarboxylation, temperature, and the difference between fat soluble and water soluble.
Decarboxylation, or “decarbing” is the process of releasing water and carbon dioxide, turning THCA and CBDA into THC and CBD. In simpler terms, it activates the cannabinoids’ therapeutic qualities.
Both THC and CBD are fat soluble, meaning they will not dissolve in water. For the extracted CBD and THC to stay active in a cooked item, they have to latch on to a fat like butter or oil.
Calculations are required to discern correct dosage. It’s a matter of figuring out the gram to milligram ratio, determining the percentage of CBD or THC in the flower, and converting that into milligram per teaspoon. An easy way to begin is combining the flower with salt and pepper. A dosage can then be determined by the teaspoon of spice.
“If I have to teach 1,000 people about this over and over again, I will do that. That’s the most important thing, educating the community about the benefits of CBD and THC.”
Emmett Nelson, PAMMEC’s general manager, notes that these seminars are useful, if not necessary, for patients who can’t inhale with a vaporizer or pen.
One of Mitchell’s favorite meals is baked chicken using CBD oil, a CBD spice mix (with basil, salt, pepper, and parsley), and roasted red peppers with CBD butter. She’s an accomplished cook who learned her way around a kitchen at a young age, but stresses that cooking with CBD or THC doesn’t have to be complicated.
“You should be able to go home and if you want a sandwich, your mayo has CBD in it,” she says. “You want a piece of toast and your butter has CBD in it.”
Adding CBD or THC does affect flavor. Terpenes, the part of a flower made to attract pollinators, are incredibly aromatic, with some being stronger than others. Mitchell looks at the makeup of her flower, taking into account the bouquet, and balances flavor. The terpene linalool, for example, emits lavender. If she’s baking with a strain strong in linalool, she adds a bit of lavender extract to match.
In Mitchell’s seminars, she acts as a guide for patients interested in personalizing their medication through home cooking, taking treatment beyond capsules and vaping. Her goal is for attendees to be able to go home and “make their favorite dish” with a therapeutic boost.
“If I have to teach 1,000 people about this over and over again, I will do that. That’s the most important thing, educating the community about the benefits of CBD and THC,” she says.
Mitchell’s next class is April 19, focusing on infusing concentrates. Seminars continue at PAMMEC through May 18, covering baking and cannabis spices, and are free to attend.