Since the beginning of 2017, the droves moving to the California coast for tech, Hollywood, or simply the sun-soaked, absolute freedom of the wild west are met with an especially foreign custom: being offered cannabis seemingly everywhere they go. Now that it’s recreationally legal from the hills of LA to the foggy shores of San Francisco, cannabis is as ubiquitous as wine, offered on a platter, presented in a box, and cooked into nine-course molecular gastronomic meals. It has also become an integral element of casual entertaining.
“The whole point is that you’re not overdoing it, it’s not about getting crazy,” says Eviana Hartman, a representative for the smoking accessory e-shop, Tetra, and Grass Studio, a soon-to-launch cannabis creative consultancy firm. “It sets the mood in a very happy, relaxed manner, as opposed to alcohol which can really change people’s personalities,” adds Anne Crawford, LA-based ambassador for fashion brands Roger Vivier and Rick Owens and consummate host of garden lunches and long, luxurious dinners for her artistic friends.
If the attitude around inhaling, ingesting, or absorbing THC has changed, the rituals for presenting it have also evolved, and hosts have much to consider when bringing cannabis to the table with style. Here, Hartman, Crawford, and Michael Magallanes (Silicon Valley’s go-to private chef for medicated dinner parties) weigh in on how to entertain with cannabis and what accessories will help.
“I’ve fed and gotten a lot of people high now,” says Magallanes, who, after leaving the helm of Michelin-starred Mourad, started serving cannabis dinners last year. “The first and most important thing to know is each person’s dosage.” How many milligrams you put on a person’s plate can be the difference between a legendary evening and one that is very much not okay. Magallanes warns that tolerances vary based on method of consumption (a person may be able to smoke much more than they can eat), so erring on the side of caution is always encouraged. And, he says, “If they’re a complete newbie, we recommend starting with five milligrams.” You can always add more for the optimal high.
When serving cannabis-infused food, think about it the way you think about wine. “Ask your budtender at your dispensary,” says Magallanes. Just like the guidance of a sommelier, a budtender can navigate you through the turpine flavor profiles of Ghost Train Hayes, GirlScout Cookies, or Sunset Sherbert to best complement the dishes you plan on using them in. Magallanes prefers to cook with hash. “I’ll smell [the hash] and taste it and go from there. For the strains I’ve found to be citrusy, I can use that for a lighter dish, like melon. A lot of strains have a cheesy, barnyard-y thing going on, and I'll typically put those with meat.” From there, to activate the psychoactive effects, the hash must be cooked at a certain temperature for a certain amount of time. It then has to bind with a fat source for the body to absorb the THC. Magallanes typically infuses it into coconut oil, olive oil, brown butter, or clarified butter, then uses that oil in the dish.
As you probably already know, there are two major strains of weed: indica and sativa. “I always offer sativa,” says Crawford. “It’s a much more alert experience than indica, which can give you what they call ‘couch lock.’” The relaxing (and sometimes sedating) indica will breed a much less social environment than sativa’s uplifting and cerebral effects, which will further engage people’s thoughts about what they’re smelling, tasting, and seeing.
The most basic rule of thumb is to keep weed away from mealtime unless it's cooked into the food. “I wouldn’t [serve] it while people are eating. Before or after. Not in the middle,” says Hartman.
It can take up to an hour or so to feel an edible's effects, so offering them as an alternative to happy hour is a good way to time your guest's high to kick in when food hits the table. Starting the evening off with cannabis is also a good way to loosen people up when they’re first coming together. Even with close friends, it can get everyone in an especially tuned-in rhythm of preparing and eating a meal together.
Crawford, on the other hand, appreciates an edible, like Marigold Sweets chocolate from former Alice Waters intern Vanessa Lavorato, as an end-of-meal option that will not only wind down the party but also misdirect those who might otherwise drink too much. For those wanting a more ritualistic experience, smoking and vaping are both nice to do at the end of a meal, the way people once enjoyed cigarettes. And, for when people don’t know each other very well, smoking and vaping are simple means of hyper controlling your dosage.
Getting your guests high shouldn’t feel like unearthing a bong from a pile of sweatshirts in a dark corner of your closet. “There are options that allow you to make it a beautiful ritual that’s part of entertaining as opposed to something sketchy that you sneak off to do,” says Hartman. For smokers, she recommends investing in an ashtray like this prismatic crystal-cut Regenbogen version by Fundamental Berlin and a handsome pipe like these Coil pipes by Lindsay Haines. Both can be left out, says Hartman, “as a beautiful addition to the table.” Accommodating hosts can set up a little tray with a pipe, a lighter, and an ashtray, which guests can pass around. Keep things mess-free by rolling joints in advance—Canna Sierrra’s graphic white cartons are a nice pre-rolled option.
Meanwhile the more discrete the vape pen, the better. Crawford says that Beboe makes the best looking minimalist pens in California, though the Oregon-based Quil has won fans for its ultra clean metal cylindrical design.
As for edibles, for ultimate hosting ease, Crawford recommends opting for a presentation that “speaks for itself,” like the brightly colored boxes from Lord Jones that she favors. “There are different flavors, so it’s nice to have people open them up and look inside, and you can just stack them up on the table.” For flavor profile, Magallanes reaches for Atlas Edibles’s “tasty granola,” which uses roisin in place of other cheaper forms of cannabis concentrates for the purest taste. “Flavor and high are both superior,” he says. Here’s to a high-end high.