What do you get when you mix the culinary skills of Emeril Lagasse with a favorite ooey-gooey treat of the 70s (AKA pot-laced brownies)? The Ganja Gourmet, of course.
Now those with a prescription for cannabis don't have to limit their choices to smoking or brownies. A Denver entrepreneur has opened a medical marijuana eatery named Ganja Gourmet.
And that's not the only place those in and around the mile-high city can go for marijuana-infused foods like pizza, hummus and lasagna. A Caribbean restaurant across town has plans to hold classes on sprinkling, dashing and pouring a bit of mellowing weed into multi-course meals.
Sun-loving Southern Californians can tune into a low-budget TV show called "Cannabis Planet" for tips to cook with marijuana and create mouth watering and munchie-inducing dishes like teriyaki chicken, shrimp capellini and steak sandwiches.
Ironically, some say these establishments are good for curbing obesity. After all, teriyaki chicken can have a lot less fat than brownies. Marijuana meals, some say, are also better on your respiratory health since you're not smoking -- and thus inhaling.
"When I started using marijuana, I was eating a brownie every day. I gained a ton of weight," Michael DeLao, a former hotel chef who hosts the "Cannabis Planet" cooking segments on Los Angeles' KJLA told the Associated Press. "Then I learned how to really cook with marijuana, and once more people learn about all the possibilities, we're going to see a lot more people wanting this in their food."
Just don't get any ideas of strolling into the Ganja Gourmet and ordering one of their pot pizzas. To get served, you've got to show a medical marijuana card proving a doctor says pot can cure whatever happens to ail you.
"I wish there were restaurants like this throughout the country," says Wayne Shepard who holds a prescription for marijuana. "It could help ease the suffering for many dealing with cancer, AIDS and other illnesses."
Unlike a box of brownie mix, one of Ganja's pizzas will set you back a few coins, $89 to be exact. "It's not like you'd eat the whole thing in one sitting. You can have leftovers," says Shepard. But since an ounce of marijuana is said to cost anywhere from $100 to $500 an ounce, depending on strength, taste and patient preference, $89 can seem like a bargain.
There's no worries that stopping by Ganja Gourmet will lead to eating your way to the poorhouse, either. Marijuana chefs say it takes anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours for the munchies (and other side effects) to kick in. So it's unlikely patrons will overeat because they're high. Although, just like pizza (and other food) that's not laced with pot, pigging out can result in an upset stomach or feeling sluggish.
Ganja has its patrons safety in mind, too. Munchers are only allowed to eat one menu item every 45 minutes and patrons
are offered a ride home if they need one.
The medicinal use of drugs isn't new. LSD has been recently looked to as a cure for cluster headaches. And neither is Ganja's idea.
Recently a "Cannabis Cafe" opened in Portland, Ore., where approved medical marijuana patients pay $25 per month and can smoke marijuana in the club. 'Budtenders' serve food, non-alcoholic drinks, and free marijuana to club members.
Gina Roberts-Grey is a freelance writer specializing in health, celebrity and consumer issues.
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