Dinners and smoke sessions can be truly healing—be it with friends and family or meeting new people. The opportunity to share nourishment (food and libation) and heal each other through cannabis and conversation is invaluable.
In western society, there is often an emphasis on individualism, which can be truly isolating especially if you don’t have a strong familial network or they are not close to you. (The act of coming together to share food is one that spans across many cultures and has always had a lot of importance especially for black (and brown) folks. When we come together for holidays, barbecues, and other parties, we use familiar foods as the facilitator to appreciate our bodies and our loved ones — a reprieve from the daily stresses of being alive and being black we’re not often allowed.
We all intuitively know the benefits of a smoke session with friends—all the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits you can always expect from cannabis, plus the additional emotional soothing from spending quality time with friends, sharing stories, and connecting with other people who are willing to share sacred space and time, as well as alter their consciousness with you.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down in Washington, DC over cocktails and a lot of weed with Victoria Harris, one of the founders of DC Taste Buds, and Torie Wallace of We Baked. Both women are entrepreneurs in the weed industry and have been active in shaping DCs emerging legal market, which still has many grey areas in terms of how companies are able to grow, process, and distribute their products.
Both Vic and Torie are outspoken advocates of getting more black folks and other people of color into the industry and working with and supporting the small, yet vibrant community. Over several highly potent blunts, bowls, and edibles, both women were gracious enough to break down the macro and micro struggles they face in DC as the market forms and nationwide problems surrounding the cannabis industry, including gentrification, reparations, and equity, threaten the potential for black people to succeed in the field.
After a couple bowls, a Backwood, and a Dutch we shared stories and experiences navigating this new industry as three black women all with different focuses and parts of the country (them in DC, me in Seattle). Though our individual experiences vary, one thing that we could agree on was how de-stigmatization of cannabis is still, by and large, limited to white users—despite legalization, black people’s relationship to weed is still perceived at best recreational and at worst, criminal.
In addition to white folks being the face of newly legal cannabis, they seem to also be the ideal or default authorities of the production of high quality growing and exclusive holders of the medicinal benefits and uses of the plant, as seen through who (and what, with regard to institutions) is cited for medical knowledge and who is given mainstream media coverage and space to speak authoritatively about cannabis to the masses.
This, of course, is ironic because everything this industry is doing—growing, processing, producing, distributing, dosing, etc—black people (including these women) figured out how to do first and did so without big financial sponsorship and while taking a major risk during the height of the prohibition era. Long before white women started having weed-centered gatherings, we had been coming together for cyphers and smoke sessions, sharing the herb and the tea with homies and (the cool) family.
Vic officially launched DC Taste Buds with partners Warren Brown and Anna Leis in April of 2016, and has since then worked tirelessly on all the behind the scenes aspects that go into launching a business, made even trickier and more tedious than expected by constantly changing regulations and rules governing the DMV’s legal weed market.
Vic aims to provide tasty, high-quality edibles (all members of the team are trained chefs) infused with top tier oil to provide maximum relief and enjoyment for future clients. While she has been smoking regularly since she was 23 years old, ironically, it wasn’t until she began the process of launching DC Taste Buds that she began to use weed for strictly medicinal purposes. A lifelong sufferer of TMJ (pain and limited movement of the jaw joint and its muscles), she started having intense and widespread, stress-induced facial pain from the pressures of launching a business.
Her doctors prescribed her Percocet, however the lethargy and mental cloudiness associated with the drug was not conducive to her business operation, which requires her to be very social and talk to many people. Vic decided to instead opt for a more natural healing route using her connections in the industry to sample strains, before ultimately realizing that Green Crack and Pincher’s Creek provided ultimate relief for her symptoms.
Torie is the founder of We Baked, a cannabis non-profit in DC. We Baked works to educate gentrified communities on the politics, as well as benefits, of the plant that once placed many in the underground weed scene in jail until recently. Through We Baked, Torie aims to address the dissonance between the wealthy, emerging industry and the growers and breeders from low-income, poverty-stricken communities that shouldered the weight of the War on Drugs.
During our session we smoked on a delicious moon rock Torie prepared for us comprised of Chocolope bud, NYC Diesel wax, and Chocolope kief. A devoted cannasseur, Torie relies on cannabis to alleviate social anxiety and relieve stress.
Black people, and many other folks of color, have been relying on weed for medicinal treatment, be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual for ages (there is evidence of cannabis in the tombs of some Egyptian pharaohs) and continue to do so because of lack of funds or access to the medical industry and, like Vic, because it is a natural alternative to toxic and potentially hazardous drugs pushed upon us. Cannabis is an excellent and communal way for us to heal our bodies—including providing relief for illnesses particularly pervasive in our communities such as PTSD, diabetes, high blood pressure, STRESS, gastrointestinal issues, HIV and much more.
Though as cannabis advocates we want to see more black and brown faces enter the legal market, our smoke session illuminated the fact that we also still need to work toward true de-stigmatization because a black man in a hoodie smoking a blunt is still criminalized while a white lady with a joint is idealized. Continued education about the different ways to use weed medicinally is needed by those that possess it to help more people in our community learn natural ways to heal themselves, and by extension chip away at generational trauma and create healthy habits for the youth.
Check out this infused recipe by Chef Vicky to try at home. Invite your friends over and heal each other through cannabis, food, and the company of loved ones!
Caramelized Popcorn with Chocolate and Bacon* (8-10 servings)
silicone baking sheet or wax paper
large baking tray or roasting pan
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
⅛ cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1oz cannaoil/clarified cannabutter
8-10 cups popped popcorn (about ¼ cup unpopped)
2 oz semi-dark melting chocolate
2 oz – thick cut applewood bacon, small dice* (bacon optional!)
½ gram decarboxylated kief
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Over medium heat, combine first 4 ingredients and boil for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat; add in baking soda. Stir very well, slowly add in cannaoil/butter with rubber spatula.
Mix infused caramel with popcorn using rubber gloves (double up, this stuff is HOT) or by using a spatula. Use enough caramel to fully coat the kernels. Place in oven for 30 mins, stirring every 10 or 15 minutes.
While popcorn is baking in the oven, cook the bacon until very crispy. Drain off all the fat, blot dry with paper-towel, and chop until fine. During this time, melt the chocolate on low heat.
Incorporate the keif into the chocolate or the bacon bits, or both!
Take popcorn out of the oven, drizzle with chocolate sauce and bacon. Bake for another 20 mins, let cool on wax paper or a silicone sheet.
***Remember, you cannot get UN-high. Edible dosages depend greatly on how much THC is present in your buds, and how each individual reacts to TCH consumption. Everyone is different.