It's hard living in a big city in ways I couldn’t imagine as an eager child. One must have seemingly endless reserves of energy and cash to experience urban splendor to the fullest, and even then, sometimes it's not enough. A paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle is a reality for many, and a salary of less than $80,000 will leave you eating rice and beans for three days to make up for that $60 dollar bar tab. Retirement plan? Pfft. Any money that would be saved is promptly shoveled into the garbage truck that is a student loan servicer.
Being a creative person can be even more difficult. Being a creative person with a learning disability is more difficult still, and staying under the employ of others becomes tiresome quickly -- all energy spent and nothing to show for it.
Quickly, I became a raging pothead to compensate for all of the stress and turmoil I regularly put my body and mind through in many service-industry jobs and schooling. Blazing through as many career paths as joints, I would not settle. The smoke cloud grew around me as did my uncertain feelings about the future.
I know people have "feelings" about medical marijuana users, and instead of making the tired old comparison to other substances, I will simply say, to each their own; not an easy thing to say in a city full of party animals, lines of cocaine and bumps of molly parading down into the depths of the soul. I could easily be one of them, and when regularly medicated on Adderall, I might as well have been; my only moods were breakneck productivity or blackout intoxication, as the stimulant keeps one’s wits until the fourth or fifth whiskey shot. Maybe for some this takes the edge off of the exposure and vulnerability one has to live within a city, but for me, this was simply not sustainable, and my body revolted.
To the contrary of the most common stereotypes, I do not sit around eating chips and watching Netflix while stoned 80% of the time. Marijuana simply does not hinder my productivity or quality of work; it calms the many-threaded thoughts of my mind into a single thoroughfare, where I can contemplate both actions and work details without distraction. Completely unmedicated, my thoughts wander to the unsavory parts of my brain where we keep one very poisonous emotion: shame. My anxious, hyperactive brain processes any and all opposition as an act of war, and my relationships, both professional and personal, suffer deeply from my inability to be calm and, most importantly, gracious.
Being a bit lifted in a service industry position left me softer and more patient instead of short and guarded. All in all, this medicine was what worked for me and still does. The peace I feel from a mild buzz is whatever you want to make of it, but it has allowed me to practice "to each their own." I don’t care about my shitty dad or shitty ex or shitty friend or shitty job -- I am present in each moment, loving my work or loving the person in front of me.
Knowing what works has been a blessing, but you can’t smoke a joint on the sidewalk like you can discreetly swallow a tablet. Smoking is not only the most socially unacceptable method of receiving cannabinoids, it is the least healthy.
Once fully entrenched in my habit, a vacation brought a harsh reality: Smoking would not be tolerated in a hotel room. At this point, I had ceased my pharma meds in favor of a few puffs and was happily eating and sleeping well for the first time in years; the thought of being without my new medicine was frankly upsetting.
My knack for online research brought me into the vault of cannabis knowledge. BadKittySmiles became my online mentor. Her methods and recipes are so comprehensive and her mantras so compassionate, I knew I had found the right place to learn how to medicate myself more discreetly and, by default, more efficiently.
Experimenting with medibles took me to the end of my career in service, as I stood in a mirror and said, FUCK IT. I was good at making medicine, and it had always been a casual hobby to make potions, tinctures and care products -- why couldn’t I do the same with cannabis? Aside from it being illegal, I could find no other reason not to at least experiment with the stuff.
I turned out to be quite excellent at making cannabis into edible medicine. Friends with illnesses ranging from Lyme disease and HIV to cancer and anxiety began to seek out what I made. All happy patients, and all able to medicate within minutes in any situation.
Within two months, the job I had would be no more -- the place was closing. During this time period, my little business grew steadily, and I was stunned when I had rent money on the table way before the first of the month. Living paycheck to paycheck died with the establishment that closed under my feet.
This has been a boon to my creative life, as it is very satisfying to make people happy with your innovative creations. Having the free time to pursue my true career goals has been transformative, and my star is rising in two opposite sides of the sky, instead of my Sisyphean past, pushing my body up a mountain for a pittance, too exhausted to pursue little more than my next meal.
Brownies turned into vegan truffles. Truffles turned into gourmet knockoffs of store-bought candy. Candy turned into tinctures. Tinctures evolved into precisely dosed capsules, capsules into topical treatments. And what do you know -- I have a regular cannabis apothecary tucked away in a kitchen cabinet. Mixing different herbs creates an even better complementary effect: cayenne for pain relief, chamomile for sleeping, lecithin and DMAE with caffeine for remarkable focus of mind. The possibilities are endless.
It’s too bad I do this covertly in a place where it's highly illegal and have no desire to leave, because I could surely "go legit" in many places in the world, but I love where I grew up and am going to brave prohibition like my mob-affiliated ancestors did in the 1920s. I may be on the wrong side of the law, but not for long -- change is coming.
Even my parents partake of my products, their friends and other family members come in secret of each other, seeking help with some pretty serious conditions such as alcoholism and depression. One day, things will be different, and then I’ll run a proper store. But until then, I’ll run it in secret, like other healers of the past, until America comes to its senses.
For now, here’s a recipe for vegan chocolate cardamom/turmeric truffles that is as delicious as it is effective:
- ¼ cup infused coconut oil (instructions below)
- 1 lb dark chocolate
- ½ cup raw cashews
- ¼ cup coconut chips (unsweetened)
- ½ can coconut cream (NOT LIGHT OR PINA COLADA MIX!)
- a few cardamom pods, whole
- ½ tbs turmeric
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ cup coconut sugar (brown sugar will do as a sub)
- pinch of salt
Mix for dusting:
- 1 tbs cinnamon
- 1 tsp clove
- 1 tsp allspice
- 3 tbs powdered sugar
- 1 tbs cornstarch
- 3 tbs cocoa
To make infused coconut oil:
Using the reference of one cup of oil for one ounce of raw material, reduce recipe as needed; for this you can do a ½ cup of oil to a ½ oz of flowers and reserve for a future use.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees, boil water in a saucepan for a water bath or set a slow cooker up.
Finely crush dried cannabis buds, put in a ceramic container and tightly seal with 2 layers of aluminum foil.
Bake flowers for 20 minutes. This process is called decarboxylation and converts all THC to its bioavailable form.
Put oil and flowers into a mason jar with 2 tablespoons soy or sunflower lecithin and close the lid tightly.
Place in a 190-degree water bath for one hour, then place in the freezer overnight.
Heat oil up again in a gentle water bath and strain using a strainer and then a coffee filter. Avoid touching the oil without gloves -- it WILL seep into your hands and get you stoned. The strained product can be used for cooking, baking, internal or topical use.
To make the truffles:
Put cashews, coconut, and chocolate into a food processor and chop until everything is in small pieces.
Crush cardamom pods and lightly toast in a pan; pour in coconut milk, sugar and spices, bring to a light simmer.
Strain into a measuring cup and add infused oil.
Return to food processor and pour hot liquid in while processing on low. This will melt all the chocolate and create GANACHE!
Take out the blade, cover the pitcher and put in the fridge overnight.
Take out the next day and use a spoon to form balls of chocolate. Dip in powdered spice mixture and wrap in wax paper. Store in the freezer for up to a year, fridge for 2 weeks, room temperature a few days.
Start with ½ a truffle as a dose until you know how it affects you. Happy medicating!