“I have always loved marijuana. It has been a source of joy and comfort to me for many years. And I still think of it as a basic staple of life, along with beer and ice and grapefruits—and millions of Americans agree with me.” — Hunter S. Thompson
Much like the Wu Tang Clan—marijuana-infused food ain’t nothing to fuck with. Mostly that’s because, when metabolized in the liver, the plant’s THC ends up transformed into 11-hydroxy-THC—a far more potent form of the compound, with longer-lasting (up to 12 hours), more intensely psychedelic effects than the delta-9 THC that’s absorbed directly through the lungs when you puff a joint.
Naturally, there’s no such thing as a fatal marijuana overdose, but the fear is real, especially if you stop to consider how many people sit in cages right now for growing, distributing or even just possessing this most beneficent plant. Fortunately, as pot legalization takes root in Colorado and elsewhere, we’re finally witnessing the beginning of the end of the global oppression of marijuana users.
To commemorate this historic policy shift, The Weed Eater recently traveled to Aspen, Colorado, for a legal seminar hosted by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), America’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to legalizing cannabis. Founded in 1970, NORML has been standing up for your right to get high since before the DEA even existed, and boasts an impressive stable of celebrity supporters that includes Willie Nelson, Bill Maher, Rick Steves, and Woody Harrelson.
Of course, the first prominent national figure to publicly support NORML was none other than Aspen’s own Hunter S. Thompson, who served on the group’s advisory board and became a lifelong close friend of founder Keith Stroup. While one can only imagine what exactly the legendary outlaw journalist would have to say about the reefer revolution currently spreading like a grass fire worldwide, we do know for certain that he’d heartily approve.
Hunter S. Thompson fought many battles in his life, and he didn’t often win. So what better way to help him posthumously celebrate the sweet smell of herbal liberation in Colorado than by throwing a small victory party at Owl Farm—the author and advocate’s legendary “fortified compound” in Woody Creek—featuring an appropriately over-the-top pairing of fully legal cannabis and high-end cuisine?
Pulling this off required the permission and kind hospitality of Anita Thompson, Hunter S. Thompson’s widow, who resides at Owl Farm and keeps a close eye on her dearly departed husband’s literary legacy. The house and grounds under her care, though in no way open to the public, serve as something of a shrine to Thompson, who took his own life there in 2005.
Since then—one incredibly memorable memorial aside—Owl Farm has largely lain fallow. But in its heyday, The Paris Review likened it to an “eighteenth-century salon, where people from all walks of life congregate in the wee hours for free exchanges about everything from theoretical physics to local water rights, depending on who’s there.” And that was always a deep bench, as Thompson’s orbit attracted an eclectic, ever-shifting constellation of friends and admirers that included everyone from Jack Nicholson, Bill Murray, Sean Penn, John Belushi, and Keith Richards to Jimmy Carter, John Kerry, George McGovern, and Pat Buchanan.
Johnny Depp once spent weeks at Owl Farm, crashing in a cramped, spider-infested, gunpowder-filled bedroom in the basement—next to the “war room” where Thompson wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas—in order to observe his subject, at close range, and in his natural habitat. It’s a modest mountain cabin, set down gently in a sweeping alpine valley, that the Gonzo legend bought for a song back in 1969 and forever after saw as a kind of spiritual refuge, where he could write and recuperate in peace, no matter how weird things got out on the road.
A deep connection between the man and his land that appears to have extended on into the afterlife. From the peacocks that freely roam the grounds, to the hand-scrawled Post-it notes covering the walls, to the Nixon mask still close at hand from a favorite rocking chair—as if ready for one last loud, dangerous prank—almost nothing has changed at Owl Farm in the last ten years.
To handle the culinary and scientific feat of preparing a multi-course marijuana-infused meal of the highest order on such hallowed ground, The Weed Eater partnered Chef Chris Lanter of Aspen hotspot Cache Cache with Denver-based cannabis-infusion expert Tamar Wise, former head of science at Dixie Botanicals, the world’s largest marijuana edibles company.
Together, they infused four different oils, using four different ganja strains, for use in four different preparations (three savory and one dessert). Tamar normally works with industrial-grade equipment designed to make large-scale infusions for use in commercial products, but on this occasion, she agreed to put her multiple advanced degrees and years of hands-on experience to work formulating a simple, but highly efficient and accurate infusion method for home cooks.
After a well-informed discussion, we settled on ten milligrams of THC as a mild dose for our guest-list of seasoned heads, with 25 milligrams as an intoxicating amount and 50 milligrams and above as strongly intoxicating. (Your mileage may vary, and those unused to the effects of edibles should always take things very slowly.) We also decided to contain the infusion within one distinct element of each course, so our guests could decide for themselves exactly how much THC to ingest, and when, as the evening progressed.
For starters, chef Lanter served Alaskan king crab with finely diced cantaloupe, cilantro brown butter, and an avocado puree blended with a measured dose of sunflower infused Jah Kush oil.
Sounds amazing, right?
Well, good news: A MUNCHIES film crew taped the whole process—planning the menu, sourcing the cannabis, making properly dosed infusions, and serving the meal at Owl Farm with NORML founder Keith Stroup as the guest of honor—all for an upcoming video with the working title: We Threw a Weed Dinner at Hunter S. Thompson’s House.