Myrtle Beach mixologist offers up a cannabis cocktail guide

For Weekly SurgeApril 23, 2014 

The epic debate over the legalization of marijuana seems to be moving towards a resolution in South Carolina. The S.C. House passed a bill earlier this month that will allow people suffering from severe epilepsy to, legally, use oil derived from marijuana to control seizures. The Senate has passed a similar bill that limits the same oil to clinical trials. In addition, the South Carolina Democratic primary ballot in June will, specifically, ask voters whether they support legalizing medical marijuana.

While most arguments have only two sides, the legalization of marijuana, quite possibly, has three. Obviously, those who are against it and those who support it. However, those who are in favor of legalized marijuana are, often, divided into two subsets. Those who strictly believe in the medical benefits contained in the product and those that want all marijuana, regardless of purpose in use, to be legalized.

As with any medication, which marijuana is considered legally in some states, it was only a matter of time until alternate methods of use were discovered.

Cannabis cocktails, while not legal in any state per se due to distribution laws, have become an underground trend during the last year. As the speak-easy themed bars have grown, so has the desire for the next great ingredient. Blossoming from the possibilities discovered through medical marijuana research, mixologists have honed in on the usage of cannabis and its extracts for their drinks.

Last year the New York Times interviewed Daniel K. Nelson, owner of Writer’s Room in Hollywood, Calif. He said, in that interview, “when you put THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) in alcohol, you feel it immediately.” As he discovered making cannabis cocktails for some house guests. He went on to say about his research and development of cannabis cocktails that “I got mega high. I had to tone it down for the bar guests.” The Writer’s Room has since closed for business.

There is little to argue that cannabis in alcohol has but one purpose. A cannabis cocktail exists to bring on a stronger buzz than alcohol or marijuana can produce individually. I would also argue that snobbery may be at play as well. An above-the-law gathering of the so-called “cool crowd” that will spread envy to the dredges of our social climate. A certain element of danger, perhaps, of getting busted.

I have little to no sympathy for snobbery, so I will spill their little secret. Here is an easy way to make cannabis cocktails.

Infusing the spirit itself is the easiest and most common method to get THC into a drink. Grind about 14 grams of marijuana per liter of liquor and let it infuse for two weeks. Strain and make your cocktails. The result is a potent mix of THC and alcohol. Vodka and rum work best... so I’ve heard.

You can also infuse ingredients such as bitters, oils or vinegar for a milder and more controlled application.

You can also cook it into alcohol, but it is very dangerous to cook alcohol. Just ask any distiller what the number one danger is in making spirits and they will, decidedly, answer “fire”. The cooking method is most commonly used to make Green Dragon, which is a highly concentrated infusion of citrus extract and cannabis. Citrus extract is between 80-90 percent alcohol in and of itself. Green Dragon was created for medical patients who did not like to smoke in the early days of medicinal marijuana usage. They would make this infusion and mix it with soda, tea or coffee in order to medicate.

There, now anyone can have a cannabis cocktail party if they are so inclined. However, I do not condone this type of usage for either drug. I believe that the method and popularity have educational value in our legalization process. They are potential uses we should be aware of in our community in order to regulate and educate potential users. I do not find a cannabis cocktail appealing in the least.

Steve DeAngelo, activist, entrepreneur and the director of Harborside Health Center in Oakland commented in the aforementioned New York Times article that “I don’t like the idea of associating cannabis with alcohol. We believe it’s a wellness product, not an inebriant.” Harborside provides its patients with edibles, topical applications and flowers as options to medicate. All legal for the clinic to sell to patients in California.

Twenty-one of our states have legalized medical marijuana. Colorado became the first to legalize recreational use of marijuana in January. CNN reports a slight reduction in crime in Colorado, which can not be linked directly to marijuana laws, and is projecting $54.7 million in tax revenue prior to June 2015. Colorado has confirmed $3.4 million in taxes collected for January and February of this year for recreational marijuana. The question is becoming “when” instead of “if” for the legal use of marijuana in South Carolina.

Regardless of your opinion, you should be educated when it comes to usage and effects of anything that enters your body. I tend to operate on the saying of “as long as you do not harm or negatively effect another person” as my gauge of moral judgment. So far, alcohol has made more of a negative impact than cannabis on our society.

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