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Cannabis, food, and healing with Chef Jordan Wagman

Cannabis, food, and healing with Chef Jordan Wagman

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Today on the show we welcome chef Jordan Wagman to talk about the work he is doing to incorporate cannabis into his amazing cooking as a way of advocating for its health benefits. Jordan starts by talking about how his early relationship with cannabis began when he was diagnosed with psoriasis and used it as a way of easing the pain. Now Jordan is on a mission to help others have a similar experience to him and we spend our discussion asking him about how he cooks with cannabis, his favorite recipes, and how the average person can start to build their own amateur cannabis kitchen. 

This is The Cannabis Enigma, cutting through the smoke to have informed, serious conversations for regular people.

Elana Goldberg: Hi. I’m Elana Goldberg.

Code Peterson: I’m Dr. Codi Peterson.

EG: Today, Codi, we get to talk about two of our favorite topics, cannabis and food.

CP: Those are almost the same topic in my mind. Almost.

EG: Do you consume cannabis or food?

CP: Is there all of the above?

EG: Yes, there is. There definitely is.

CP: I think what’s cool about cannabis and food is cannabis is food. In fact, one of the earliest uses of cannabis was for its seeds to eat far before humans figured out that you could smoke cannabis. They figured out that you could consume its seeds and use its fiber.

EG: Yeah, far before humans figured out how to order pizza.

CP: I think now with the advent of Uber Eats, we’re not limited to pizza delivery anymore. Okay? Don’t put us in that box, that pizza box.

EG: Well, not everyone has Uber Eats, Codi.

CP: I guess I’m privileged.

EG: You are indeed, in many ways. Content about cannabis and cooking has been really popular on The Cannigma at the moment. We’ve noticed an increased interest in recipes, in kind of how-tos about decarboxylation, about different devices that are used in the cannabis kitchen. Definitely a growing kind of interest topic, so this is why we decided to invite Chef Jordan Wagman onto the show. This was another one of these interviews where Codi and I were fighting about who got to interview him, so we decided to interview him together. Tell us a bit about Jordan, Codi.

CP: Well, you’ll hear in the interview that I met Jordan digitally, as many of my cannabis connections started. What’s interesting is, he was touting his favorite recipe. Again, you’ll hear this in the episode. It was fruit leather. Everyone was raving about the fruit leather, but I had to comment that the animal hide made from fruit, it doesn’t really sound appeasing to me. He disagreed, and we had it out around that and I asked if it was tanned before you ate it or not. But the point is, is we laughed at each other and interestingly enough, six months later, we find ourselves in the same room as Elana here talking about how Jordan can come on the podcast and how he can even maybe help work with us on some recipes and work with The Cannigma.

EG: Yeah. Jordan is going to be helping us to beef up our recipe section, pun intended. I think one of the things that’s really great about Jordan’s story and again, we’re not going to do too many spoilers here. 

CP: I just got that.

EG: Yeah, welcome. Codi’s been working on that. If he says anything weird, you just ignore it.

CP: Night shift.

EG: Yeah. Jordan like so many other people that are kind of pushing forward in the cannabis industry has his own story with the plan and about how he realized that it was helping with his psoriasis from a very young age. That’s a lot of the passion behind his work and he talks about that in the interview. We’re hoping that Jordan is going to make it over to Israel at some point this year to do a 14-course cannabis infused meal for The Cannigma team as well.

CP: I’m going to have to make the trip to Israel specifically for that day. But seriously, Jordan has been really fun to talk to. He’s really a genuine person who is super excited to share his knowledge about cannabis and food with the world. He’s really got this beautiful story about healing with cannabis as so many people do. Check out the interview and you will get to learn more about Jordan and then obviously, if you want to read more about his content and things you can always find his name on The Cannigma

EG: Absolutely. I’m going to pop that in the show notes for you as well. We’re going to go straight to the interview now and stick around after the interview. We’ve got our regulation segment with our co-producers at Americans for Safe Access. So yeah, remember to have a listen.

EG: All right, let’s talk about food and cannabis. Who’s up for it?

CP: These are two of my favorite things, usually one before the other, but if you can put them together, I’m down for that as well.

EG: One before the other, and then the other, and then the other and then back and forth, that sort of thing.

CP: Yeah. It’s like a teeter-totter.

EG: What about you, Jordan?

Jordan Wagman: I’m curious which comes before which, I’m not sure. Is it the cannabis before the food or the food before the cannabis? I’m uncertain.

CP: It’s a chicken before the egg sort of thing. Welcome to the podcast, Chef Jordan Wagman. He is a cannabis and food expert in one and we’re excited to have him on the podcast. 

JW: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

EG: All right. Jordan, I’d love it if we could just start off hearing your story. How did you end up being a cannabis chef?

JW: Yeah. I mean, it’s funny. I talk about the “cannabis chef” often, which I don’t think I am. I’ll start here, I was diagnosed with psoriasis at the age of 12. I call it the Cold Heart years. I wear my sunglasses at night. I had spiked hair just like Corey Hart. I woke up one day at my friend’s house, and I woke up with basically three huge patches of psoriasis on my hair. Because I had spiked hair, two of these patches were positioned right at the front of my scalp, and all the hair clumped together to form what looked like basically two horns coming out of my head, which was apropos. Seeing it so my father thought I was a little bit of a devil’s child, which I was. 

After that, finding psoriasis and being diagnosed, every decision I made in my life revolved around my health, specifically my skin. When I wrote every high school exam in the hospital, I ended up spending a year and a half of my life sleeping in a tent at the Dead Sea in Israel. Ultimately finding what I call the first piece to my health puzzle, which was the sunshine. The sun reduced my skin production and allowed me to maintain relative health until I got on the plane, went back to Toronto, got off the plane, the psoriasis started to come back.

After spending a lot of time in Israel and finding that first piece, I subsequently sought the sunshine wherever I was. Every vacation I took was always to an island, or to sunshine and ultimately moved to Florida to go to culinary school in California. Believe it or not, it’s sunny every day in Colorado, even though it’s cold sometimes. I was always seeking out the sunshine thinking that it was the only way to kill myself. The parallel is, after my diagnosis, what I found at a very young age and was labeled stoner pothead and burnout was that I smoke pot every day since I was 12 because it allowed me to go to sleep. I’d go for psoriasis treatments. I’d get worked in UVB, whatever it was. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and psoriasis flare and smoking cannabis allowed me to go to sleep. I never fully appreciated it at a young age that cannabis was being used for health and wellness. I just assumed as I say often, it was because I love the Grateful Dead, played guitar and had a ponytail.

Fast forward to seven years ago, having had a lifetime in culinary and hospitality and being very involved in food on a daily basis, I was ready to make holistic changes to my diet and sought the help of a naturopath. From this one meeting. I removed gluten dairy and refined sugar from my diet and began consuming cannabis. Within 60 days, I lost 30 pounds and my psoriasis improved dramatically and almost went away. For the last seven years, I have continued to build the narrative globally for what cannabis can be in food and beverage. Most people perceive it to be gummies, brownies and cookies and I’m telling you that I make gummies, brownies and cookies. My brownies have avocado, my cookies have three ingredients. My gummies are vegan, and gluten free, and dairy free and refined sugar free. I came to cannabis at a very young age, but professionally realized that a lot of people need help and like me, can find their health through food, which cannabis is. Cannabis is just another great ingredient that I use.

CP: Wow! Jordan, you shared a lot about your journey here. It sounds like, I think it’s interesting that you’ve been battling psoriasis with different tools through your life, eventually finding or maybe leaning on cannabis as a crutch. Now, what you’ve done is you’ve taken food, and diet, and you’ve elevated your endocannabinoid system, continue to use cannabis medicinally and it sounds like you’re finding some tremendous success

JW: For health benefits, no question about it. I think for me and I always talk about, I learned the phrase, “We are an end of one” from Dr. Deb Kimless. We are an end of one. For me, I know that food and cannabis works to help to keep my inflammation in check. But I’ll be honest, it’s really the removal of the refined sugar, I believe. Again, we are end of one. But I believe that the removal of refined sugar has impacted my body as much as the benefits of cannabis, to be honest.

CP: Oh, man. Certainly, that’s what we want from you is honesty. There’s a lot of dietary changes that we could look to make, and we’ve had gone through a lot of diets, but there’s no doubt that sugar intake has increased in recent times. In cannabis too, like when we look at cannabis edibles, for example, these are very sugar-rich products. Whether that’s a problem or whether they shouldn’t be there, I’m obviously a proponent of allowing all products to exist in the consumer marketplace. But I do think that we are underserving the health-conscious consumer right now in the cannabis edible space.

JW: I agree with you and balance is important. I use my Oreo cookie example sometimes to sort of highlight balance. A good friend of mine growing up wasn’t allowed to eat Oreos, for whatever reason. We’d go to summer camp and his duffel bag would be filled with Oreos, because we weren’t allowed food. He’d take them out, he’d take them to the woods. He dig this hole and he bury the Oreos in the duffel bag so that he had this stash all summer long. Why? Because throughout the year, he wasn’t allowed to have it. I don’t forbid my children from having anything. We don’t have soda in house. We don’t have crunchy bars or sugar cereals in the house. Do I know my kids eat McDonald’s? Of course, I do, but life is about balance.

The issue I have in the edible space food and beverage, let’s just blanket it, food and beverage, is there’s no balance. It’s all the same products. If you go and you take a look at the gummies for example that are available, what differentiates one from the next, maybe it’s a flavor profile, maybe it’s the mold they use. Maybe some are big, maybe some are small, maybe some are stars, ponies, whatever the case may be, shapes and sizes. But the health benefits, there’s no differentiation with ingredients. They’re all, it’s the same, refined sugar. Here’s sort of the premise that I build all of my culinary experiences on. Cannabis combined with refined sugar, when you eat that gummy, you’re the science guys, so you’ll correct me, but there’s no doctor that I’ve spoken with and discussed this at length that has argued the validity of this theory. 

The refined sugar wants to be absorbed in your body before the cannabis. Your body loves sugar. Now don’t put sugar in that cannabis food stuff. What is your body going to absorb? Inevitably it makes your cannabis much more bioavailable if you’re pairing it with other ingredients that are not refined sugar. When people come for 15 –

CP: Particularly that, right?

JW: A hundred percent. When people come for 15 course infused experiences with me, they come in and they’re all heroes. Everyone’s a hero. I eat 100 milligrams, I eat 150 and I say, “Good for you. You’re going to come in, and you’re going to have the experience the way that I curated which is over 15 courses. You may have maximum 20 milligrams of THC, but I’m combining it with tons of terpenes, tons of raw flour, tons of minor cannabinoids to create that whole flour experience, which we call the entourage effect.” Every single person no matter who you are, you’re experiencing cannabis new, old, experienced, whatever the case may be, every person leaves saying the same thing. “This was the most incredible food experience I’ve ever had.” Because they appreciate that they had something that they’ve never experienced before because all food is so filled with sugar and other junk. That’s my soapbox.

CP: Well, how do I get a ticket? Sign me up for that 15-course meal. What were you going to say, Elana?

EG: Yeah. I was just going to say, I want to get you on the air agreeing to do this 15-course meal next time we come to Israel for the team. I know you actually already agreed the last time we spoke.

JW: I already told my family, “Listen. I don’t know when, but just expect that I may ask you to pick me up from the airport.” Like 17 of them were like, “No problem.”

EG: Okay, very good. I’m glad we have that settled. I would love it, Jordan if we can kind of jump into talking about some tips for people who are cooking at home. What are the basics? What do people need to know if they want to start experimenting with making their own edibles?

JW: I talk about something called a repeatable experience. I think the biggest challenge that we have are newcomers to cannabis. How do we get them to understand the benefits, then have an experience, enjoy the experience and then want that second experience? That’s the goal, is getting them to the second experience. I’m going to take for granted they love the first experience. We’re getting them here. Well, if they get to the second experience and it differs drastically from the first, they’re gone, you’re never getting them back. We need to create safer environments when we’re cooking cannabis for clients, for anyone. Creating that repeatable experience is about creating homogenous mixtures. What do I do? You can, of course, you can take your dropper with distillate and put a dollop on it or whatever, a milliliter and there’s 20 milligrams in that milliliter and you have 20 milligrams in there. Sure, you can individually dose your foodstuff. Absolutely you can. That’s not cooking with cannabis. That’s just adding cannabis to your food.

Cooking with cannabis is different. Creating an ice cream mixture, like a – let’s talk sorbet, a blueberry sorbet mixture. I will bring blueberries and maple syrup to a boil, covered. As soon as the blueberry skin split and start to release all of those juices, guess what? It’s done. You bring that down to room temperature. Why? Because if I don’t have to, I don’t want to infuse my cannabinoids into a very hot product. There’s no reason to. I’m going to freeze this, anyways. I bring it down to room temperature. I put it into a blender and I add my distillate. The reason I personally am adding a purchased distillate is because I know the exact potency to do decimal places of the cannabinoids per milliliter, whatever the unit of measure is.

Again, I’ll use the example. If I want to add 20 milligrams to this sorbet mixture. I had one milliliter, there’s 20 milligrams in there, I puree. Agitate, agitate, the RPMs are high enough creating this emulsification which is combining two ingredients that don’t normally mix, right? We’re creating this homogenous very smooth mixture. Think Caesar dressing, think mayonnaise, those are emulsions. They’re emulsifications. Then we’ll put it into my ice cream mixture. Now, I will simply take the yield, divide it by my portion size and that is the quantity or potency of cannabis per serving size.

CP: Per dose, right? Really what you’re getting at is it’s really important to make sure that all of your cannabis oil or product is well immersed. Just dropping it into let’s say the red sauce on your kitchen is not going to work is what you’re telling me?

JW: No, it won’t, because one spoonful will have no cannabinoids, one spoonful will have all the cannabinoids or some of the cannabinoids. You’re always going to have [inaudible 00:18:28], always.

CP: I’m going to get to short thrust. I’m going to go against the good side.

JW: Exactly. Someone is left out. Let me summarize that by saying, the tip for anyone that’s going to create foodstuff in their kitchen is to purchase your cannabinoids. If you are not familiar with the decarboxylation process, and you don’t really have access to sending out your finished infusion to a lab to tell you the actual potency of that cannabinoid, you as a producer of a product for a paying customer, and I’m speaking to professional chefs out there, you’re being irresponsible. You’re better off in your home environment or cooking for others to buy something where you know you can appreciate the efficacy of that finished product.

CP: I mean, I can appreciate that if you’re serving other people, right? If you’re serving other people, you want to know what dose you have. That makes complete sense to me, Jordan.

EG: What about for people who are living in a place where they can just buy a tincture or distillate so easily?

JW: We had a conversation, Elana, Codi and I about a an amazing feature that’s coming out. I hope you don’t mind me talking about it. JeffThe420Chef came out with this calculator many years ago and people find it extremely useful. There’s no question that there is a benefit to a calculator that can help you create or understand the potency of your cannabis. That is the answer, is you have to learn how to create these infusions yourself as a responsible manner that you can, using a calculator, which you’re going to feature will then allow those people to create as close to a product that I’m subscribing to them on their own. 

CP: I think that’s kind of where we stand in this challenge market, right? Because there was so much stifling of knowledge, and technology and development, we’ve got all these people who are producing cannabis have long been infusing and are very comfortable infusing cannabis at home for themselves. I think, for those folks, we should still encourage them to do so. But I agree, particularly when you’re dealing with a party, or a group, individuals who aren’t comfortable with cannabis, you want to be really, really important on that dose. Then this emulsification, this is super intriguing. You see this with our gummies recipe on The Cannigma, which is one of our popular ones. We use gelatin, but also soy lecithin or lecithin in general, it doesn’t have to be soy as an emulsifier. This is an interesting thing. When you take water, like as in gummies, and then you want it to blend with your cannabis oil, you actually need this in between, this lecithin. I’m sure that that you use lecithin in your cooking.

JW: Never.

CP: I shouldn’t say that. What do you use in lieu of that as an emulsifier?

JW: Nothing. It’s all technique. It’s all culinary. My signature sauce has two ingredients, cherry tomatoes and olive oil, the same premise with the blueberries applies. You take the two ingredients, you put them in a pot, you cover it, you wait until the skin split, they release all the water, so it was a dry mixture. Now ultimately, what you’re looking for is all the water we’ll cover those tomatoes. You put them in something with high enough RPMs, and you’re suspending that water in the oil. You’re creating that natural emulsification, so you can suspend them. Now, can you do that with a whisk? No. That’s the point, is that if someone doesn’t have when I say technique, equipment comes into play with technique.

I just want to speak to one thing you mentioned insofar as, those that are creating those infusions on their own today. In truth, Codi, they’re not the ones that I’m speaking to. The ones that I’m speaking to are the ones that are new to cannabis, because the ones that are already creating, we’re already in – we’re the outliers. We’re not the norm. The norm are the people that are not in cannabis. 

CP: Right. Most people –

JW: Exactly. For those people that are creating their own infusions, how about it? It’s working for them. I can’t do that for clients. I feel more responsible. I think it’s more responsible if I’m buying it. I’m more trying to appeal to those that are sitting at home, they’re really confused as to whether cannabis is right for them or not. In truth, it’s all about, as the three of us do on a daily basis, having these conversations to help remove the stigma. It’s a much easier conversation when you’re talking to people about cannabis consumption over food, than handing them a package of zigzags and sunflower and say, “Go roll a joint.” No one’s going to do that.

CP: It’s a totally different experience too and that’s so important. The duration is longer, the come up is much slower. For some folks, they find it much more enjoyable. This has to do with their individual metabolism. We have articles on The Cannigma about this why some individuals don’t feel edibles or feel very little compared to others who feel them very intensely. These can be genetic differences in all sorts of science fun. If that’s something that intrigues you, there’s an article on that as well on the website.

EG: Yeah. I want to circle back, Jordan. You mentioned tools. You mentioned that it comes down to the tools that you have in your kitchen. What are the must-haves when it comes to kind of building an amateur cannabis kitchen?

JW: It’s funny. The blender is number one, a very good blender that can get your RPMs up pretty high. I do have an emulsion blender that I use, which is the stick with the blade on the end that you can submerge into a pot or whatever the case may be, and you can just sort of blend it using this emulsion blender. The problem is, is that, the emulsion blender, it doesn’t create that same sort of level of emulsification as a proper blender. Plus, because it doesn’t get the RPMs as high or the RPMs don’t get as high, there’s some fibers left. It’s not smooth texturally. When you’re creating these emulsifications, these sauces, these desserts, these chocolate bases, these ice cream bases, you want texturally to be very smooth. I think number one is a real really good blender. Then measuring cups, I mean measuring spoons. It’s really as simple as that. I always have a dropper in milliliters so that I know per milliliter how much cannabis I’m putting in.

CP: Really good tips and I think a good blender is a great kitchen tool whether you’re cooking with cannabis or not. But I do totally agree, that’s a great tip as to just something the average person, if they’re looking to make a Christmas upgrade or whatnot, then they can lean towards that. Perfect. What about a favorite recipe, do you have something that you love? Is this your blueberries that you were sharing with us?

JW: I mean, one of my signature, my new book is coming out, 420. That’s the plan. One of the signatures in that book is my fruit leather, which is essentially the same recipe as creating the blueberry puree for the ice cream mixture, but I pour it out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and dehydrate it at 95 degrees for 20 hours or put it in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours, but it creates incredible fruit leather. I know you don’t love the name, but [inaudible 00:26:09]. That sort of thing. It’s dehydrated fruit, and for me where I love to eat my cannabis, it really is such an on-the-go type of foodstuff for me, because it can sit shelf stable for truly years, and years and years. There’s no moisture, there’s no nothing in it. My fruit leather number one far and away.

CP: Oh man. I’m going to have to try it. Jordan’s referencing as some of you may know, we’re on social media. That’s how we got connected to Jordan. Everyone was rocking the fruit leather and I had to come out and say, I’m like, “I don’t know. Processed animal hide made out of fruit. I don’t know.”

EG: What does this mean, everyone was rocking the fruit leather?

CP: Like everyone was like, “Oh! This looks so great” and I was like, “It looks good, but we could consider a new name.”

EG: I don’t know if you had growing up, we had roll ups. These little like –

JW: Exactly/

EG: [Inaudible 00:27:09] our play lunch. That’s what we call it in Australia.

CP: Is that like a school lunch?

JW: You could call it food –

EG: Something like that. I don’t know. It’s the one you could like 10 or 11 in the morning, play lunch.

JW: I love those. Love them. Honestly, that and like Jub-Jubs or Wine Gums, those sorts of textures, I love chewing on them. I loved fruit roll ups growing. I’ll be honest, with the fruit leather, like it’s so experiential and that’s why I love it so much. If you think about your regular experience with a gummy, for example, you open up the package and you [inaudible 00:27:46] gummy. But tearing the leather away from the paper on the back is so reminiscent. You know, Elana, exactly what you just outlined. It’s so awesome. It always puts a smile on my face just tearing those apart.

EG: Yeah, I totally get that. I got to ask. I have been known to say things like, why don’t you people just smoke a joint and order a pizza like a normal person? Jordan’s nodding. He’s like, “Yeah, I know, you people. You joint and pizza people.”

CP: He actually said that to me before.

EG: Well, I guess my question is, does it matter what different foods? We talked about sugar, sugars and fats beforehand, but does it matter what different foods you’re ingesting the cannabis with or is it just the simple fat of like the oral ingestion method?

JW: For me, and I’ll always defer to – I always stay in my lane, but I can tell you based on experience, because the cannabinoids are already in a fat, they’re already there. That’s what they’ve bonded to. No matter what I’m using, they’re already in that fat. Once I distribute that fat evenly, equally in creating that homogenous mixture we’ve talked about, then no, because they’re already in the fruit leather. But I will say, when I eat my brownies, for example, and I love my brownies. There’s avocado, and coconut oil, and cacao and maple syrup, but really good fats in there.

If I serve someone who typically eats 50 milligrams, a three or four milligram brownie filled with my avocado and good fats, they get high. They absolutely feel it. I will answer you from an experiential standpoint. I’d love to hear Codi’s answer. But yes, it does to an extent because the fats already there, I can get away with it and create fruit roll ups. But it does make a difference when I’m pairing that cannabis with other good fats. It does. 

CP: Yeah. I mean, it’s an interesting concept.

EG: Codi’s been making squinting faces.

CP: I mean, look, I’m a pharmacologist, and anything that would suggest tenfold difference in potency would make me a little bit skeptical. I can get behind the idea that delivering cannabinoids in this format, the brownie format can definitely increase bioavailability. That’s well established. It also increases duration of the response to cannabis, even compared to like an edible a gummy type of higher dose. But your range is skeptical, but there’s a lot going on here that’s very complex about how the body processes fats, how it uptakes them, and then where it sends them. Whether it burns them for energy right away, or whether it sends it through the system to the liver for storage and all sorts of other stuff. Extremely complex stuff. We need to learn more. These studies are still just barely being done into cannabis and bioavailability. What we know so far has mostly been based on drug studies spraying Sativex into people’s mouths for these MS studies around the world. We have a long way to go before we can make those claims. But certainly, I can see how you could get more potency out of delivering cannabis with this nice, natural fat that is very bioavailable. There’s my squint. That’s why I was squinting.

EG: All right. Thank you for clarifying. Let’s go on to talk a little bit about consumption lounges, and cannabis restaurants and the new frontier that is ahead of us. Jordan, how do you kind of plan on getting in on the game, if at all? Or how does it change this space for you?

JW: I’ve said many times that I will not own a restaurant. I’m done. I can’t do that anymore, but – and this is the but. But when cannabis comes online, I’m in. Yesterday, I received a phone call, someone very well-known is working on something and would I consider. Of course, the answer is yes, of course. But we have a long way to go, and so education is at the forefront of getting us to where we need to go. I think that consumption lounges are huge. I think they’re a step in the right direction. I think there needs to be, again, I will say until I’m blue in the face that there needs to be good education out there so that we can continue just like we do with smart serve, and we’re creating a safer environment for bartenders. How do we create that same environment for people so that they don’t green out, so they don’t consume too much cannabis, so that we create that safe environment?

There needs to be that type of certification and education available for those out there. I think there’s a top-down and bottom-up approach here. Creativity, creatively, it’s a no brainer, and I can see it and I can also see the evolution of it as I’ve discussed it. I think that if you consider an infusing station, if you can sort of conceptualize this, people can take it. By all means, I hope more and more people do. But I see that the evolution being that there’s a dispensary next door to a consumption lounge. You can probably, and again, I’m just talking about step one. You can go next door, buy your cannabis, bring it here, give it to me behind the counter, I will watch you infuse or you will watch me infuse and that’s sort of what it is. Maybe that evolves to find the cannabis, bringing it to the chef and they infuse it. Whatever the case may be, this is mainstream. It’s going to continue becoming more mainstream.

Janet Zuccarini just opened up Gusto Green in LA. Now, they’re not serving, as to the best of my knowledge, they’re not serving cannabis right now, but their intention is to serve cannabis [inaudible 00:33:49]. This is coming, people are talking about it. We’re talking about it here. I can tell you that there’s some really exciting things that you should keep your ear to the ground for. Well, now that we’re so well connected, I’ll share with you at some point. But this is really exciting news in Canada from the hospitality, from a catering cannabis standpoint, that are – that’s going to be released in the next little while, which again, starts this evolution towards full consumption, five-star restaurant. 

CP: That lines up with really one of the core values of The Cannigma, which is de-stigmatization and normalization, right? We want to bridge the gap with knowledge, understanding of these emulsions, the ins and outs of all of these issues. I completely agree, this is the next step. I’m glad to hear Canada’s making a move. West Hollywood here in Southern California is making a big push to become this new go-to place for these sort of consumption lounges. I really look forward to the creativity that the cannabis industry is so well known for, finding its way into these experiences. Because lord knows they’re going to make experiences out of the whole idea. What’s your favorite thing that you’ve ever done on weed? This sort of joke that can now actually be brought to fruition. I think it’s a really exciting time for cannabis.

EG: Yeah, definitely.

JW: I could not agree more. 

CP: I can’t wait to try one a year infuse, anything, all your compotes and your healthful recipes got me hungry. I’m thinking about what I have in the house and I’m like, I think I just have sugar cereal.

EG: Throw it out.

JW: For me, the challenge is that, most people don’t appreciate that the future of food is not sweet. The future of cannabis foodstuff, it’s not sweet. It’s savory. We’re talking about buying tetra packs or shelf-stable tomato soups and teas. It’s frustrating here in Canada, and I can’t speak to it today. But when I was doing my research, I couldn’t even purchase cheese in Ontario, cannabis cheese void of refined sugar. For me, there’s going to be two steps. One step towards savory foodstuff, and the other towards, which I believe we’re already sort of motioning this way is towards health and wellness.

EG: Yeah. Well, that’s the cannabis in general, finding itself smack bang in the middle of that health and wellness space across the board, not just in terms of edibles.

CP: If you look at the industry today, certainly, there’s part of the industry, particularly the CBD market, and then this sort of adult use market is really leaning towards THC. I think we’re going to find a confluence where these all sort of common blend together. Cannabis kind of leaves this idea of being bifurcated into these two market segments. But anyway –

EG: The middle part.

CP: Yeah, the confluence. I love it.

EG: That’s it. All right. Well, Jordan, thank you so much for your time today. It’s always a pleasure speaking with you and very much looking forward to your relatives picking you up from the airport and bringing you straight to The Cannigma offices. We’ll see if we can get you to come and join Codi when we make this big party happen.

CP: We got to make a Cannigma apron for Jordan, like with buddy on the apron.

EG: Yes, a buddy apron. Okay. We’re going to do it.

CP: All right. We’re doing it.

JW: I love it. I have to tell you, and I can’t wait to have you on my show, so I can ask you all my down and dirty questions. But I have to tell you and pay you both an incredible compliment, that with all of the content that’s out there today, Cannigma does one of the best jobs, if not the best job curating really informative content and it’s really well done. I told you both offline that the experience on your platform is phenomenal. Congrats on what you’re building and continuing to build. It’s really well done.

EG: Thank you so much.

CP: Very kind words. Thank you so much.

JW: Thanks for having me.

EG: Jordan, where can our listeners find you if they want to get in touch with you or kind of learn more about what you’re doing?

JW: Yeah, everywhere, Chef Jordan Wagman on social media. Please follow subscribe and like In The Weeds, which is the food-first podcast, which these two rockstars will be on in the next couple of weeks. But yeah, Chef Jordan Wagman anywhere and everywhere.

EG: Awesome. Looking forward to it. Thanks, Jordan.

JW: Thank you.

CP: We’ll see you in the weeds, Jordan.

JW: In the weeds.

CP: Bye, buddy.

EG: All right, enough buttons. Goodbye.

CP: Never enough buttons.

EG: All right. For ASA segment today, we’ve got something a little bit different. I have here with me, William Dolphin, who has been involved with ASA since the beginning, kind of working on a number of different things through the years, focused around legal cases, policy and research. Currently, you might recognize William’s name from the monthly newsletter that ASA puts out every month, obviously, because it’s a monthly newsletter. Thanks for joining me here today, William.

William Dolphin: Thanks for having me.

EG: Yeah, sure. William was actually just telling me before we started recording about some interesting work that he has been involved in and this intersection of cannabis and mental health. We decided to dedicate our segment this week to unpacking this super important, and I think really misunderstood topic. Won’t you jump straight into it, William?

WD: Yeah, thanks. It has been really interesting digging a little further into this. The intersection of mental health and cannabis use is super important. It is an area where there is some of the most dramatic difference between what doctors say about cannabis and what people who use cannabis experience with it. I became interested in this because of research that my partner Michelle Newhart, and I did in Colorado, with a patient experience there and folks reporting that they were using cannabis to manage mental health. In my years with ASA, I’ve heard other folks report that as well.

As I begin investigating a little bit further, I discovered just how radically different the views of the psychiatric profession are about cannabis use in patients. Worldwide, mental health management is one of the top three reasons that people use cannabis medicinally. But almost all psychiatrists will tell you that if you’ve got any kind of mental health issue, you shouldn’t use it. Even if you don’t, you’re risking mental health problems. If you do, including a risk of psychosis, and this has been getting a lot of attention in the press over the last several years. There’s been an explosion in the scientific literature. The number of articles concerned with psychosis and cannabis have just skyrocketed over the last 20 years. It’s not that we’ve come to any sort of new discoveries about it. The one thing that it really correlates to is the spread of legal access, and the increased concerns on the side of the medical community about what that might entail.

EG: Yeah. It’s so interesting that you say this, because I hear this echoed from specialties across the board of, often in the psychiatric space, but also neurologists. I hear this a lot that they started trading before they had any kind of training in cannabis. They saw cannabis use as a comorbidity. I’ve heard this through physicians who are treating autism spectrum disorder, who are treating Tourette’s, actually some fascinating research from – I’m sure you’re aware of her work, Dr. Kirsten Müller-Vahl molar Val in Germany, who realized that a huge percentage of her patients were actually self-medicating with cannabis. When she was able to kind of look at it through the lens of understanding what her patients or rather kind of learning from her patients, rather than looking to teach her patients, she saw that this was actually a medication that she could get involved in and help make the treatment more effective, rather than simply looking at it as a second disease or a second indication that was presenting.

WD: Right, or a causal factor. I mean, that’s how we see with cannabis on the psychiatry side. Because one of the things that is super interesting on this comorbidity question, is that folks with psychiatric disorders, and to be clear, schizophrenia is the one that gets all the attention, right? I mean, psychiatry has always been super concerned with it. It’s long history around that. But it’s not even clear that they understand what it is. There’s no clear sense of how it comes to be in people. But people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia are way more likely to be pretty serious users of cannabis. That’s been used to say, “Well, look, there’s this linkage.”

Then the other thing they point to as well, on the self-medication thing, because that’s been a theory out there. They say, “Well, it can’t be that, because if you look, the cannabis use precedes the diagnosis of schizophrenia, almost always. That time thing tells us that that caused the other.” Well, um. The problem with that is –

EG: Difference in the symptoms I suppose. Is that the question?

WD: Right. You reached a threshold of diagnosis, but that didn’t mean that you were perfectly fine before that. There’s a prodromal syndrome, where you’re beginning to feel funny, feel off, and cannabis is enormously helpful with what they call the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, the anxiety and depression. Again, the top reasons people use it to manage mental health. One of the things that super interesting, as they’ve gotten a little bit farther, they’ve been a couple of case studies where they had intractable patients, not responding refractory, they call it. Not responding to any kind of medication, institutionalized, nonfunctional, but these were folks who reported that they had used a lot of cannabis before they were institutionalized and they found that it helped their symptoms. 

Some guys in New York, psychiatrist in New York said, “Well, let’s try it in a controlled fashion.” In this case study of four individuals, guess what? Controlled doses of THC reduced all their symptoms to the degree that they were able to go back and live normal lives. It’s not at all clear what’s going on with this. Some of the really interesting sort of basic biological research about schizophrenia shows that there are significant differences in the endocannabinoid system functioning in people with schizophrenia. There’s a lot more anandamide in the cerebral spinal fluid of folks with schizophrenia. There are some biological mechanisms involved. Again, we don’t understand what schizophrenia even is, or how it comes to be, what’s happening, but there’s some exciting indications that the ECS may be a therapeutic target.

EG: Yeah. So much more research is needed here. I want to kind of circle back. I think there’s something really important that you said there, that with the controlled doses of THC, these four subjects, which is of course not enough subjects in the study. But these four subjects we’re able to kind of return to normal functioning. The controlled doses, I suppose is really the point here. Without the education and the research, I think that it’s very difficult to self-medicate, especially if you’re in a situation where you’re buying cannabis on the black market, and you have no idea what you’re buying. The research look into specifically what types of cannabis and what doses are most effective for these conditions?

WD: No, no, no. Not at all. Yes, this is a critical factor. So much of the research that we have is so broad and poorly defined. Again, population-wide studies, where they’re analyzing thousands and thousands individuals who merely answered, “Yes, I used cannabis.” No idea what, no idea how much. There are some attempts to parse how, “heavy” a user they are, but the measures are so broad and ill-defined that they’re effectively meaningless. Likewise, the differences in dosing, we know. I mean, there are paradoxical of dose dependent effects. One dose may relieve anxiety, a higher dose may induce anxiety of exactly the same substance. Cannabis is not alone in that, but it’s particularly market with that. We definitely need more careful research on exactly what might help with folks. There are some exciting things being done on the genetic side of things, where we’re trying to analyze genomes of plants, and people and figure out how they might match up.

EG: Right. Well, definitely waiting with bated breath on that, but I’m assuming it’s going to be a few years, at least. Do we have any real takeaways there? Well, this is just a quick one at the end of our episode, but as we were saying, before we started recording, I would love to get you on the podcast to kind of pull this topic apart in more depth. We’ll definitely set that up. Any kind of real takeaways here from what you’ve been finding out, apart from the standard more research is needed that we can leave off with today?

WD: Well, yeah. I mean, I think that part of what medical professionals struggle with is that they’re operating within a harm paradigm. Cannabis use is not just a comorbidity, it’s a harmful behavior. Everything is focused on trying to help people not do it, versus any kind of understanding of how it might actually be helpful for people. Analysis of research funding in the United States finds 20 times more money spent on identifying harms, than identifying anything useful. We still have almost no medical training available to doctors on the potential for cannabinoid medicines or even the endocannabinoid system. That’s a huge lift that we need to accomplish before we can really talk about fully integrating this.

EG: Yeah, definitely. Education, keeps coming down to education, right?

WD: Yeah. 

EG: All right. Well, thanks so much for this and we’re going to talk again soon.

WD: Okay, great. Thanks, Elana. Bye.

EG: Bye. Thanks.

EG: I’m Elana Goldberg. This episode of The Cannabis Enigma podcast was executive produced by myself, with production assistance from Dr. Codi Peterson and Ed Weissman, and edited by our friends at We Edit Podcasts. If you enjoyed the episode, feel free to like, rate and share. It helps other people find the podcast and it’s really nice for us as well.

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