My journey into the world of cannabis science and education began with a cookie.
Like many curious adolescents, I tried ‘weed’ for the first time under the ‘guidance’ of a friend sitting atop a drainage pipe just below a Denny’s. It was Ohio in the early 90s. Either because I wasn’t inhaling properly or because my receptors weren’t primed, I didn’t feel it. Over the years I got it to work, but never gained a deep connection with the plant or its effects. Access to cannabis for a female living in the Midwest was tricky at best and alcohol, the preferred intoxicant of Midwestern teens in that era, paired poorly with the flower for me. After learning the hard way – a few times – about the compounded effects of cannabis and alcohol, I stuck with other intoxicants primarily. With the exception of one memorable experience with a little ‘schwag’ and a Radiohead album, cannabis generally left me withdrawn and a bit of a wallflower (oh, there’s a ‘strain name’ suggestion!). I preferred more gregarious substances.
Many years later, while attending my 3rd Thanksgiving dinner of the season, I was offered a homemade edible by a friend who made a habit of using good judgement when dosing. We spent the evening running around our friend Bobby’s new Chicago distillery, chasing the shop cat, and giggling uncontrollably. It was delightful and unlike any high I had experienced previously. I made the decision then to start consuming cannabis more.
Prior to my cookie communion, I had been riffing on classic cocktails with booze-filled cupcakes, sharing them with friends over game nights hosted at my Logan Square apartment. The best one was an Aviation Martini cupcake. It was spot on … and boozy AF. This was quickly adapted to cannabis consumables – the first recipe was an infused dark chocolate and matcha cupcake creation – which, ultimately, ended up becoming a side business.
Despite unknown varietals and potencies purchased from my local dealer in those years prior to adult-use legalization, I took great care to eliminate variables where I could, weighing out each individual confection prior to baking. While my preparation and dosing methods remained consistent, there were noticeable differences between batches which could only be accounted for through the phytochemistry of the flower – the chemical ingredients of unique flower varietals and batches. I became intrigued by these varied effects. Thus began my deep dive into the pharmacological powerhouse that is cannabis and the way its myriad compounds, in isolation and in synergy, play out within our individual Endogenous Cannabinoid Systems – each more unique than a fingerprint.
Chicago wasn’t yet a place where I could further my education in cannabis science, so I made my way to the West Coast where weed was legal and the legacy market had given rise to some of the earliest efforts of cannabis research in the States. There I found the access I needed to both high-quality, tested product and mad scientist-minds. As well as a culture of curiosity and patient-focused empathy.