Many of us are aware of edibles, basically the best way to consume weed if you don’t want to smoke it. Primarily because they let you get high and eat something delicious at the same time. Now it’s easy to make your own edibles or get them from certain shops, but where did they start? Who first smoked a joint, started rustling through their pantry and thought, “If only there were a way to combine my twin passions.”? Did they originate in a specific part of the world or did they just sort of appear all over the place? How far back do edibles go? Well, why don’t we find out?
In The Beginning
It may not surprise you to discover that humans have been finding interesting ways to put weed in their bodies for a seriously long time. By a seriously long time, I mean going back thousands of years to the Bronze Age. Unsurprisingly, cannabis was primarily recorded as being popular in Central Asia where it has always grown in abundance and where some of the finest strains originated. Using a process known as bhang cannabis was reduced to its resin form and was added to food and drink. Usually, it would be combined with milk and then added to tea for use in religious ceremonies.
Similarly, a Chinese text from 450 AD details the adding of cannabis to ginseng. This was not for ceremonial reasons or medicinal ones, but as a form of magic. It was believed that if they consumed cannabis in this manner it would provide visions of the future. Whatever the purpose it’s clear that the concept of ingesting cannabis is not a novel one.
After the more ancient uses edibles start to crop up all over history. Next, we go to North Africa and the Middle East at around 1123 AD. In this part of the world, some of the most impressive and powerful landrace strains originated. Soon they developed hash or hashish which was the root of a lasting practice of making edibles. There is a lot to suggest that hashish was often ingested for recreation in a variety of forms throughout the middle ages. However, only in these parts of the world. Hash and eating cannabis would still take a good while to catch on in areas such as Europe.
It was during the 1700s that hashish was discovered by external agents and it became immediately popular. During the Napoleonic Wars parts of Africa, including Egypt, became flooded with French soldiers. Unsurprisingly, the soldiers rather quickly discovered hash as a popular local way of having fun. They were so excited by it that they returned to France with as much of it as they could. For the next 100 years, the French were extremely passionate about eating hash. It became common practice among the upper classes and spread throughout France as a popular recreational pastime. America was the next to become aware of edible hash. For a while, the US was pretty into the medicinal use of edible cannabis. Many people would purchase it in the form of cough syrup and sweets that were heavily laced. It was considered something that was above board because it was popular amongst soldiers. During the Civil War, the use of cannabis medicated candy was even supported by military leaders such as Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. This kept going until the early 1900s when apparently cannabis was suddenly poison. In the 1920s they leapt headfirst into prohibition and decided that anything that fun needed to be banned.
The New Edibles
For a good long while, the most popular method of consuming weed was simply to smoke it. The strange attitude towards cannabis in the US tainted a good portion of the world. Many countries didn’t have a good understanding of cannabis and figured if America thought it was poisonous then it likely was. Then women started producing an acceptable seeming form of cannabis consumption. The first was Alice Toklas who created a recipe for a medicated fudge. The truth was that she was using a Moroccan classic dessert that is primarily made of hash. A friend of hers who lived in Morocco at the time sent the recipe over, and this was the start of edibles as we know them.
Brownies are probably the most popular form of edible around. Mary Rathburn, known as Brownie Mary, sold edible brownies from her home during the 70s and 80s. Primarily she was giving the brownies to AIDS patients to ease the painful symptoms of the disease. Though her brownies were predominantly medicinal it wasn’t long before people realised that they were also just super fun to eat. From then people started making their own edibles, predominantly in the form of cookies and brownies. This practice began to spread and edibles became a staple in the stoner diet all over the world.
If you have read any of our Cooking with Cannabis articles you’ll know that edibles are no longer restricted to desserts. There are now endless ways to use cannabis in food, from cheese on toast to fine dining. Essentially the way that cannabis is combined into food is much like it was in Ancient India, it’s added to dairy. Of course, now it can be added to oil etc as well for those who don’t partake of animal products. But the most common way is to make cannabutter. This butter can be used in sauces, soups, pasta, pastry and pretty much anything you can put butter in. It’s possible to infuse cooking oil, but also teas and alcohol. There are little machines available that help to make the oil and butter for you, so the process no longer takes all day. From humble beginnings, edibles now reach the limits of your culinary imagination. If you aren’t much in the kitchen it is also possible to just purchase gummies and similar items. Edibles are only going to get more exciting so watch this space, and remember that they take a while to kick in. Please don’t eat a second one yet.
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*Photo by Manny NB on Unsplash