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Medibles panel at NORML Conf: w/Scott Durrah, "the Candy Girls" + Jessica LeRoux
Century of Lies May 1, 2011
Dean Becker: This is the Century of Lies show on the Drug Truth Network and Pacifica Radio. I am Dean Becker reporting from Denver, Colorado and today we’re going to learn how to cook marijuana.
Moderator: Hi, thank you so much for coming to the Medibles break-out session.
For those of you who aren’t lucky enough to live in a state with medical marijuana where you can go to a store and purchase products infused with cannabis, this session is for you. These are the experts in the field here in Colorado who have been doing this for quite some time. And the purpose of this session is to be able to teach you how to make products for yourself at home. Does that sound like something you’re interested in?
Okay, good. So we have—we have three companies represented here, but they’re more than just companies. Each of these folks have a story as to why they started doing this.
And to my right is Jessica LeRoux of Twirling Hippie confections, also known affectionately as The Cheesecake Lady [Audience applause]. I’m not going to go into great introductions because I want people to talk about their stories and how they started doing what they’re doing. But, Jessica is sort of the original. Everyone knows when talking about cannabis-infused products—in particular cheesecakes—brownies weren’t enough for her. She had to do something more interesting, more succulent, more delicious. And so she started her, her food products as well.
To, Jessica’s right, Ana and Jennie, known as The Candy Girls.
They have their own reasons for starting in this business, and very personal reasons. They started making chocolates and candies quite a few years ago, and all of a sudden found themselves in business because of the pleasurable activity that they were participating in. And so they’ll talk about that.
To their right, Mr. Scott Durrah [Scott Durrah: “hey hey”]
of Simply Pure Products as well as Eight Rivers Caribbean Restaurant here in Denver, Colorado, one of my favorite places to go. And Scott also has kind of a completely different reason for starting in his business.
So they’re gonna spend some time talking about their products and how to infuse cannabis and we are going to start with Jennie and Ana.
Jennifer Smith: Well, good morning. My name is Jennifer Smith, and I just want to say thank you for the opportunity for being here today.
Ana and I do have personal reasons for starting this business. I lost my mother to breast cancer in 1991, and we didn’t know the different benefits that cannabis had. I watched my father go through amazing depression and kind of wilter away a little bit.
We had a friend of the family who actually brought him a pipe and said, “I believe this is gonna help you.” So, he went ahead and tried it. My family is very devoted Christians, and it was kind of a struggle to think of, “well, why is this making me feel so much better and helping me?” and it’s taught to be such an evil thing. And it does so many good things.
So, he took it to his brother first—who is also a very devoted Christian—and both of them just really started praying about it and trying to figure out what this plant really is. And reading through the bible, there’s lots and lots of connections between the tree of life and marijuana.
And we as a family have actually come to believe that this plant is the tree of life. It is healing.
It meets, thank you, it does meet every industrial need that this planet has. It would stop starvation around the world, and it spiritually is something that I believe that the Lord accepts as incense and prayer to him. So, that’s what we believe.
So we got our start in 2009—my cousin Ana and I—along with some of our other family members joined forces to market our family recipes with infused medicinal candies and baked goods. We began working with patients through the Tree of Life Caregivers Cooperative to provide free medicinal edibles and medicine. We received a very favorable response to our first efforts, and in no time we were receiving other requests.
That’s kind of how we got our name, since we didn’t really have one, people started asking for “Those Candy Girls” and the name stuck.
As we mention the Tree of Life, well my fathers—our fathers—they started The Tree of Life Caregiver’s Cooperative and, they both were instrumental, in the ability for us to start our business. Their contributions in so many areas are what have made the business a reality.
The financial assistance, education, donations and spiritual support are only some of the seeds they have planted that will blossom and benefit for years to come.
Ana: We knew that we had the patient’s interest, but now the research began to see if the local dispensaries would be interested in carrying our edibles.
One of the first priorities was to become legally licensed and approved by the Denver Health Board. A top marijuana lawyer and longtime family friend Warren Edson agreed to help us with these things, and we were on our way! Not to say we haven’t met some challenges from funding and finding investors, even finding a bank has been hard to do. We had to up and move and find a brand-new kitchen. The laws are changing pretty much bi-monthly and we’re kind of trying to stay on top of those.
But through all of it, because of the patient’s gratitude and the people who have come to us and said, “You have helped us,” we haven’t lost any of our excitement or our joy to be able to continue working in this industry.
In the future, we hope to not only further our brand of edibles and provide delicious alternatives to smoking marijuana, but we also would like to provide a helping hand to expand the education on the cannabis plant, and what it has to offer in all of its many uses.
Jennifer Smith: The cannabis plant is an amazing plant. Today we want to discuss the advantages of edible consumption. The whole plant has nutritional and medicinal value. From the bottom of their roots to the very top of those gorgeous green leaves, wonderful things are discovered.
The seeds, oils, leaves and stocks are proving not only useful, but absolutely priceless. Hemp seeds are a very important part of this plant. They are available at all-natural grocery stores. Hemp seeds come in shelled whole seeds, or in cold-pressed hemp oil. They contain no THC and are full of nutrition. Hemp seeds contain 55% LA and 25% ALA which makes it the highest in total fatty acids, at 80% in total volume.
The seed contains six essential fatty acids, the most digestible protein for the human digestive system. Hemp seed contains 24%, which is more than a serving of chicken or fish. Hemp seeds offer nine essential amino acids, vitamins A, C, D, E and a complex of B. They have 37 different minerals and a total dietary fiber count of 35%.
Hemp seeds have proven to be very effective for all types of skin conditions. They help the body relieve itself from built-up toxins. A serving per day is proven to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation and even fevers. Hemp seed is the most complete single food source for human nutrition.
Hemp oil eats plaques on the brain that causes Alzheimer’s and lesions MS patients get. It fills in the lesions and lubricates pathways to allow the brain to reconnect. Not only does hemp seed and seed oil give us an abundance of nutrition, it has real healing value. It is important that we continue to educate about the healing aspects of the entire plant.
Ana: Okay, why medibles? Obviously, eating marijuana is an alternative to smoking. But let’s not forget that marijuana has many benefits you can not receive from smoking.
Thanks to research of new testing available here in Colorado, we are learning to find new ways to isolate this knowledge and share it with the wellness centers, who are then sharing it with their patients. This means people are receiving much better care, and understand what they are doing.
Dean Becker: You are listening to Century of Lies on the Drug Truth Network and Pacifica Radio. We’re tuning in to about a week ago, a panel at the NORML Conference in Denver, Colorado. Medibles: Cannabis & Cooking. We’ve been listening to the Candy Girls. Next up, we hear from Jessica.
Moderator: Jessica LeRoux of Twirling Hippie Confections
Jessica LeRoux: Um, my business—I guess I’ve had this business for about 17 years. I’ve actually had my trademark logo for, I think, 12 years. So I guess I have to keep this hat for all eternity now.
I began with my mom, I grew up in a household where my mom had a brain aneurysm. She took heavy duty drugs. She took the equivalent of basically Quaaludes every day of my childhood. She could not do anything for herself, and she was completely out of, you know, out of any involvement in our lives. And this was really, you know, very difficult for us.
We had to be pretty much on our own. And when I was young, I was exposed to marijuana through my interest in The Grateful Dead and other things like that, and, you know, I’m really grateful for that. I began trying to talk to my mom in the end of her life about using marijuana. She was also very deeply religious—very deeply southern and Christian—and was not at all interested in that conversation.
But the knowledge that I gained and the arguments that I made with her were able to be applied with my best friend’s mother when she came down with breast cancer. And I was able to help her and that was 19 years ago was the first batch of brownies I made.
When I began to work with hospice patients, I found that, you know, you were not going to tempt a very elderly person who thought that marijuana had a lot of stigma to it into trying an edible product that wasn’t absolutely aesthetically beautiful and super tempting. They weren’t going to be interested in a Rice Krispy Treat, they weren’t gonna eat a goo ball.
And I also discovered that a lot of the people I was working with had things like macular degeneration and chewing was difficult for them.
So I began to make the cheesecakes. And each one has always been—since I began my business—each cheesecake has always been individually hand made. We cut and weigh the pad of butter on a digital scale for each individual one so that we can always have ultimate control over the medical dose of each product.
What I soon discovered is, I began working with Ken Gorman—we would not all be sitting here in Colorado if not for Ken Gorman. And I ask everyone who’s here who doesn’t know who he is go home, do a little research on him. He’s Colorado’s medical marijuana martyr, he was my mentor and I respect him, and he’s who got me started working with patients.
I began going to a church, Susan was there, Jason was there, a few other people who are still in this, most of those people unfortunately are no longer with us. We began going to a church on the southwest side of Denver, meeting and just reaching out to people who wanted to come and meet with us.
I started bringing products to give away, but it became so expensive because I use 100—my business was committed to using whole food ingredients, there’s nothing in my ingredient list that you couldn’t go to the grocery store and find easily.
It’s all, you know, natural, whole food ingredients, organic whenever possible. Because these are sick people and we cannot give them chemicals, we cannot give them substitutes for food, we cannot give them dyes and gels and fake, you know.
That’s just not right to do with your ill. You already have enough to worry about without adding to the nutritional burden.
But it became really expensive. So because of my love of music, and my travels and my music career thing, I decided to start selling my cheesecakes on the road and using the profit from that to give free medicine to people who needed it.
And I thought, you know, this was a pretty solid [audience applause] and this was great, it allowed me to travel if I wanted to go to an event. And I mean there’s people here that I see that I know from Seattle, there’s people here that I see that I know from the Bay area, and I welcome you.
I’m the one who’s been telling you that Colorado was a medical marijuana state for the last ten years. Remember me? And I’m not kidding, I really did go out there and try to tell people, “Hey I work with this group, there are fifteen of us, we’re caregivers. Really, we’re in Colorado!” and they’re like, “Isn’t that between Utah and here?” and I was like, “Yeah.” And they’re like, “Okay.” And I was like, “You should come and check it out, we ARE a medical state and we do have some of the best bud.” And now here you all are, so welcome.
But I’ve been here for a long time and I’ve seen a lot of the changes come. I was a member of the DOR panel, so I was actually a part of the group that set some of the standards for the labeling for the State of Colorado.
Unfortunately, the labeling standards that I wanted, which required some of the testing that the lady spoke about were not accepted. There were unfortunately a lot of lobbyists on that panel, and a lot of people who were carpetbaggers to our industry and profiteers. And I’ll just come out and say it, because I’m controversial and I say things like that.
My feeling is if you make your living off of patients—and this is the core fundamental value of my company—if you make your living off of a patient, it is your personal responsibility to personally take your time and your energy and go fight for that person’s legal and medical rights. [Audience applause] And that does NOT mean paying a lobbyist and hiding behind that; you come and you personally testify. You do the homework yourself.
It’s very important. This is, this is not a for-profit industry. And I know we’re here to talk about medical marijuana businesses, but honestly, if you think this is a for-profit industry, I really am not interested in working with you.
I make a living from doing what I do, but I make a living by working, you know, 20 hours a day some days—a 12 hour day is a great day. So you know it’s still a bakery business, and anybody who thinks that edibles is a profit business needs to also remember how many people do you know that own a bakery that make a million dollars a year. It’ not—a bakery still has the profit margin of a bakery.
We don’t jack the price because we put some medicine in a bakery product. That’s really important to me, and I hope that anybody who wants to start an edibles business will adhere to that sort of life philosophy that you give your time and you give your energy and you don’t make but what you need to live.
Because that’s the only way you can live—you know you can’t be right and work with patients if you don’t do that. But I’ll get to talking about corporate values a little bit later.
I actually want to talk to you guys a little bit about uptake methods because I think some people were interested possibly in some of the different methods that marijuana can be infused into. And I’m going kind of off memory here, so I might be inaccurate in some of my statistics.
But basically, I’m just gonna talk about the basic core group of methods that you can infuse into. Talking about butters and fats, alcohol, glycerin, solvent-based infusions and just straight hash.
And some of the ways that that might affect different people who are different patients because basically marijuana travels through your body on your body fat on your lipid system and every patient is gonna react differently.
We talked a little earlier about strains and how each patient would react differently to different strains and that is true, but each—not only will different conditions react beneficially or possibly negatively to certain strains, each patient is gonna react differently.
And on our packaging, rather than giving a dosage recommendation, we say “consult your caregiver” because like the ladies correctly pointed out, we are only able to be a wholesale.
So my years of knowledge unfortunately cannot be transferred to the patient personally unless I go do an in-store—I do in-store appearances where patients can come and meet with me and talk to me, but I’m not allowed to have a one-on-one relationship.
So it’s important to me that I bring the caregivers that sell my products into my business to be educated by me about the products that I’m selling. And I also try to educate them a little bit about other edible products that they may be selling from other manufacturers just because the ultimate person who’s gonna have the best relationship with that patient IS the bud-tender, the caregiver, the person who’s in the one-on-one recommendation relationship and it’s important that that person be really well-educated because every patient is different.
And it’s also important that that person be educated about how to respectfully address a woman who’s in her fifties who may be overweight. And that medicine is gonna affect her differently but you wanna respect her body image, you wanna respect her personal boundaries. And so it can be a little bit challenging to have, you know a 22 year old tell you that, “Because you’re kinda heavy…” But that is the reality of how that medicine is gonna impact that patient.
So it’s important that there be respect from the bud-tenders to those people.
I just wanna talk—start with talking about butters, fats oils—and I’monna kinda lump all those things into, you know, one group category. There’s a lot of different ways you can infuse it, but when you heat it, that’s going to activate the marijuana that’s going to go into your body.
There’s a term called decarboxylation, I am not good at all at the science terms unless I have them written down in front of me. As I said, I’m going from memory. But basically, when you infuse into a fat, that’s the most natural way for your body to uptake.
However, it can be something that you would want to take caution with a patient who has a very high body fat ratio.
And also with a person who’s very lean, that person may not be affected as greatly by a fat-based uptake method. That person might benefit more from an alcohol-based, like a glycerin or alcohol-based tincture.
One thing that you wanna caution with a glycerin-based tincture is that it’s often marketed as sugar-free. It is NOT sugar free; it is not safe for diabetics. You really need to be sure that the bud-tenders understand that while it doesn’t have sugar in it, it is not sugar free. Glycerin is an alcohol. It’s an alcohol sugar; so essentially, your body processes it as a sugar.
And oftentimes, people can have a very adverse reaction to glycerin because it would be safer for that person to maybe have a fat-based product, or even more safe for them to have, you know, alcohol and for them to know and understand about alcohol as it affects their diabetes.
So these are things you really want to understand when you’re working with patients who have some of the conditions that can be very volatile with their blood sugar and things like that; or with their body fat, with their metabolism.
And you wanna take the time to get to know your patient and really understand. Or get to know yourself. I mean everybody’s body—and this is something that I’ve been telling people who are in hospice for 20 years--everybody’s body knows what they need to do to heal.
If you need to sleep, my edibles are gonna put you to sleep. If you need to eat something, my edibles are going to make you hungry. And your body does know what it needs to do to heal, but we’re so overloaded with so much information coming at us, we just don’t listen to the signals that are coming to us. And edibles, they bang you on the head and make you listen. They’re just like, “WAKE UP! I’m hungry. WAKE UP! I’m going to sleep,” you know?
And your body—most of what you need to heal is—in my case, I broke my femur in a skiing accident and I basically, you know, laid on my left side and ate edibles for several, several months. And people said I wouldn’t walk again, and I’m standing here, and I think I look relatively fit, but I’m wearing pants so you can’t see what’s wrong with me. Essentially, you know—and we’ll go on to the next thing.
So, basically we’re kind of talking about alcohol and glycerin tinctures sort of at the same time, and those are a time-basing—you’re not really heat releasing the medical marijuana in there, so you’re gonna need to really take your time to infuse it in there.
You can do some heat release things with those solvents, but it’s more likely that you’re gonna make a tincture with a long-term cold methodology. And so you’re not gonna get the same effects as a heated methodology.
There’s also what’s known as solvent-based infusions, and that would include phoenix tears, butane hash oil, CO2 hash oil, isopropanol hash oil, all these sorts of things.
I’m personally not a big fan of these things—I think the risk of the solvents can outweigh the benefits. But if a patient is truly in hospice and is an end-of-life, terminal patient and the pain relief will outweigh the possible health risks of exposure to these solvents, that is a time when those are appropriate methodologies; especially when somebody is so lean and has such chronic wasting, that one of the only ways that that method will reach them.
The people who have the lowest body fat unfortunately need this medicine the most and benefit the least from edibles, but edibles are the best way to reach out to some of those people .
So it’s important to always consider some of these infusions that are made with solvents because people who are the most ill, the most chronically wasted, the most, you know, already lost of their body will benefit from those infusions.
But you do need to also consider that there are a lot of products that are made with just straight hash. And those are harder for your body to absorb unless they are cooked. So if you’re making a raw product with hash, you may not absorb that for several hours and it may have a significant effect.
Some of the stories we’ve heard over the course of time of crazy products and goo balls and peanut butter balls, that were never cooked, those were probably made with raw hash and a peanut butter ball and about six hours later, you’re going “What the hell happened to me?” DO NOT make this for your grandmother. Possibly consider making it for yourself.
Right now with my products we’ve gotten to—with our testing—about 96% bio-active. So we’re getting most of the medicine that’s in there into the product for the patients to be able to use. And that includes not just the THC but the cannabinoids and all of the other beneficial medicines.
By cooking your medicine down and cooking it over a long, slow time, you will get more of the CBD’s and CBN’s, the pain-relieving qualities and less of the THC and the psychoactive. And so this is really really important when you’re making any of these types of infusions. And I can give more information after this if people want about these specific types of infusions.
Dean Becker: Once again this is Century of Lies on The Drug Truth Network and Pacifica Radio. That was Jessica LeRoux talking about medibles. Taking about her cheesecakes. Talking about the appropriate use of medical marijuana edibles.
Moderator: So you can smell our next presentation. Scott Durrah of Simply Pure Products and he’s also as I said of Eight Rivers Caribbean Restaurant, who will be catering tonight’s party. Scott Durrah.
Scott Durrah: Okay, so, first of all my name is Scott Durrah and I’m the owner and chef of Simply Pure, we have a line of edibles, probably in about 250 dispensaries throughout Colorado. Our products are 100% gluten-free, we’re organic.
It’s all about health, it really is. These ladies here—all of us in this industry—it’s really all about health, you know, and we all come from that same level of making you feel better.
So before we get into everything—and I’m gonna talk about my company as we go through--I’m gonna cook and we’re gonna move through here.
How many people who are in here—and you gotta be honest with me—how many people who are in here to learn about cooking, or how many people who are in here to learn about getting high? So let’s talk about the people who are in here learning about getting high.
Okay, well I’ll tell you right now, I’m not here to teach you how to get high. My food is not gonna get you high. I’m here teach you how to get medicated. If you want to get high, I always—you get time afterwards, man. See? If you want to get high, if you want to get high, smoke a joint, okay?
When I got into edibles, I got into edibles for two reasons: Number 1, I’ve had four restaurants, and Number 2 is I love cooking. Okay? Now what happened was when I started cooking for medicinal reasons, you now it really first came down to myself.
You know, I’m 47 years old, I have a herniated disc and a bulged disc. About three or four years ago, I started looking into my medicine cabinet. And basically, what I saw in my medicine cabinet was a disaster! You know, I had six or seven different prescription drugs.
Interesting enough over the last few days, I’ve had time to hang out with Montel Williams in his hotel room, and we’ve had a lot of discussions. And for those who saw him up here, we share a lot about the same philosophy.
I teach how to cook healthy using cannabis and infused products for one reason: as a way of life, okay? As a way of life. Everyone out here has a different reason why edibles will affect them and help them. And that reason needs to be something that is treasured by you and only you. Okay?
That’s how I take this approach. When I started doing this, I started cooking for myself. How do I make myself feel better? And then what happened was once I knew how to make myself feel better, then I could help other people. Not by forcing it on them, not by saying this works or whatever.
Because at first, I had to prove it to myself that it works.
So a lot of the things—and we’re talking with the people and we’re telling people about marijuana—and what I try to do when I’m cooking with them is try to find out what works in their life.
For instance, you look at me, I’m pretty healthy except for my back. I don’t have high cholesterol, my blood pressure is great. So what does that allow me to do? I have a different diet, okay? I have sausages over here, which are great. But on the flip side, everything else is organic. But that works for me, okay?
Fat is not a concern for me. In other people, it’s sugar. For me, sugar is not a concern. So what I try to tell everyone is whatever I show you, whatever recipe you choose to do, cater it to what works for you, okay?
But I will say a few things that’s very important. Number 1: cannabis is where it’s all about. Where it starts and what’s at hand is what you’re putting into your food. And I always say this, never cut corners on your butter, your oil or trim, or bud, or whatever you decide to use.
At Simply Pure we only use 100% bud. Myself personally, I only cook with 100% bud. All the butter that we make, everything is pure bud, that is it! Now mind you, everyone doesn’t have that option. I know, it’s a cool option to have; but everyone doesn’t have that option.
But if you have that option, that’s what you should do. If you don’t have that option, whatever you can get your hands on in terms of the best quality, is what you want to do. It’s very very very important. That’s where it all starts.
All the products that we’ve talked about up here—we’re not in competition with one another, this industry is huge. But we all have confidence in one another that we put the same message out there, we believe in the same thing about purity and quality. But we all have different lifestyles.
When all is said and done, all of our products are good for you, and they make you feel better, and that’s our goal here.
So with that being said, we’re gonna do some cooking, alright? Now myself personally, I’m half-Italian, I’m from Boston. I’ve lived in the Caribbean off and on for about ten years.
I’ve had four Caribbean restaurants. I like spice. Okay? Number 1. Number 2 is what I always say is this, is when you’re going to go out and do your first meal, I will always suggest if you can, go to whole food market, go to a natural market. Because of this: if you’re gonna spend money on butter and oil of pot, okay?
Cannabis, pot, cannabis—the whole thing—is understand this, you’re spending the money here, don’t cheapen it up by going to Safeway or somewhere and just buying cheap stuff. Now if you have to, try to buy the best quality that you can. Okay? That’s what it’s all about. It’s all about quality.
Dean Becker: And we’ve once again flat run out of time. Once again, that was Scott Durrah. You can hear the full discussion by tuning in to the NORML website, NORML.org. You can link up to all the speeches and goings on there at the NORML Conference in Denver.
Please be sure to join us on next week’s Cultural Baggage show when our guest will be Joy Strickland, the director of Mothers Against Teen Violence who’s sponsoring a major event up in the Dallas area, dealing with that very subject and the racial aspects of how it’s all implemented and waged.
Please check out the 4-20 Reports for this week. There’s all kinds of new discussions from the NORML Conference as well.
So, in closing this is Dean Becker for Century of Lies, saying there’s no truth, justice, logic, scientific fact, medical data, no reason for this drug war to exist. We have been duped. Please do your part to end this madness. Visit our website, endprohibition.org. Do it for the children. Prohibido istac evilesco!
The James A Baker Institute
Sun - Michelle Alexander author of The New Jim Crow and Asha Bandele of Drug Policy Alliance 5/5
Sat - Michelle Alexander author of The New Jim Crow and Asha Bandele of Drug Policy Alliance 4/5
Fri - Jason Miller of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition 2/2
Thu - Michelle Alexander author of The New Jim Crow and Asha Bandale of Drug Policy Alliance 3/5
Wed - Michelle Alexander author of The New Jim Crow and Asha Bandale of Drug Policy Alliance 2/5
Tue - Michelle Alexander author of The New Jim Crow and Asha Bandale of Drug Policy Alliance 1/5
Mon - Jason Miller of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition 1/2