How to Safely Cook With Cannabis on Thanksgiving

November 21st 2016

Cannabis can stimulate appetite, reduce anxiety, and make you feel more emotionally open. So it's no wonder that some people would want to incorporate a little marijuana into their festivities and food over the Thanksgiving holiday.

weedAP/Robert F. Bukaty -

You don't have to be a culinary expert to spice up your Thanksgiving meal with cannabis. If you live in a legal state, chances are you'll be able to find cannabis extracts and butters at your local dispensary that can be easily integrated into any dish. But it is important to understand proper dosing guidelines and cooking methods to ensure that every adult has a good time at the dinner table this year.

ATTN: spoke with Chef Chris Sayegh, who specializes in marijuana-infused fine dining, about how to safely cook with cannabis this Thanksgiving.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

ATTN: How would you approach a cannabis-infused Thanksgiving meal?

Chris Sayegh: For Thanksgiving dinner, what I would do is put [the cannabis extract] in the sauces, and I would do maybe two milligrams [of THC] per tablespoon in each sauce. That way you can control exactly how much THC you're getting. If you baste a turkey with THC butter, you have no idea how much of that is going to burn off in the oven, how much of it is going to drip down, how much of it you're going to lose because of the heat sensitivity of cannabis, and really what dosage you're going to end up with. The only way to accurately do it is to put it in a sauce where you know you're not going to lose any of the potency because you're not heating it up past 180 degrees, and you're going to still have the same potency that you put in and it's easier to control it.

ATTN: In terms of dosing, how do you adjust for each guest's individual tolerance level?

CS: Everybody has to fill out a tolerance questionnaire before the dinner so that I can accurately dose them, meaning they come in and they have to say, 'Ok, so I've never tried edibles before — I really want to try it, but I want to keep a light dose.' They're going to get 10 milligrams throughout the entire dinner, whereas somebody who takes edibles every day and their tolerance is 50 milligrams, they're going to get that throughout the entire course. Everyone gets the exact same plate of food — just different dosages that way they have the same experience.

ATTN: Thanksgiving dinner traditionally involves multiple courses. Do you have any tips for how to space out the courses?

CS: When you first ingest an edible, it's about 30 to 40 minutes for you to metabolize it and then start to feel the effects. So the first bite of food that you receive is going to contain a little bit larger of a portion than the rest of the meal. So when it hits you, it's a very light come-up. You're basically on this upward slope when you take the edible, right? And you're going into this euphoric state. That's when you have all these small bites that I'm sending up — and then everything is timed meticulously.

As you're getting into that euphoric state, you have three or four smaller plates. And then about 30 minutes in, after you're high, you start to get what's referred to as the munchies. That's when the main courses come out. You're getting satiated at this point, and it has just enough THC to keep you afloat in that euphoric state. As that is progressing — and then after you're satiated because of the main courses that you just ate — now you want something light, and you're in this state of relaxation. In that state of relaxation, you get your desserts. So I string you along this euphoric symphony basically, and that's what I like to do for my guests.

ATTN: What do you do if grandma eats one too many servings of the cannabis-infused cranberries and starts feeling too high?

CS: It may sound counterintuitive, but get pure CBD and have that on hand. When somebody is feeling overwhelmed by cannabis and they start to experience paranoia or unpleasant feelings, they can take a little bit of the pure CBD and that'll actually counteract the psychoactivity that THC brings upon.

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