Food is one of the pinnacle elements of any culture. What we eat, how we eat, and with whom we eat defines so much of our essence as individuals and as a society.

A good meal with friends or loved ones can become a cherished memory – a shared moment in which we get to know each other a little better while nourishing our bodies.

What does it mean when we introduce cannabis into that equation? What’s going on there?

We all know that one of the effects of cannabis is a boost in appetite. Some people claim that this can help with eating disorders or cancer treatments. Others are quick to conjure images of the blazed stoner raiding the pantry and gobbling up junk food.

But there is a special place where cannabis and cuisine meet, shake hands, and become best friends bound to throw the ultimate party in your mouth, mind and heart.

Science Behind the Munchies

Neuroscientists in Europe recently discovered exactly why marijuana triggers our appetites. They found that THC stimulates the brain’s olfactory bulb, heightening our sense of smell and taste.

dinner and cannabis

Food is such a vibrant part of life. Why not experience it to its fullest?

This same process occurs naturally when we are hungry. Our endocannabinoid system produces its own cannabinoids, which modulate not only appetite but also emotion, memory, and sensitivity to pain.

But the effects of cannabis on our appetites, our sense of smell and taste, can transform a food experience into culinary fireworks.

Enhancing Your Approach to Food

Chef Tom Coohill, owner of Denver-based Coohills, has been a professional chef and an occasional pot smoker for decades. He sees marijuana as a way to enhance a fine meal to its fullest. Not cooking with cannabis, mind you, but ingesting your favorite strain before the dining experience.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me at all to cook with pot because you’re really just turning the food into a vessel to deliver the cannabis. Plus it can be so complicated to cook with it, so why not just dose yourself with a dispensary-bought edible?” he says.

“When you cook with alcohol, for instance, it’s not to give people a buzz but for the flavor. With cannabis, it doesn’t add flavor – other than tasting like pot.”

woman smokes cannabis before food

A few puffs of THC can act as an extraordinary aperitif.

The effects of cannabis when used before meal time, however, is a different story. “When you’re high, eating food is much more intense. You notice things and taste things that you probably wouldn’t sense otherwise,” Coohill says.

Coohill likens a culinary session #oncannabis to the same revolutionary experience we get when listening to music with THC in the mix. “Without pot you could hear a complex song 10 times and still not notice certain things. But after smoking, you’ll hear EVERYTHING on a single listen,” he says, with an aside about his favorite band being the Canadian prog-rock outfit Rush.

“It’s the same thing with food. You can literally taste every single ingredient in a dish and start to get really curious about what some of those ingredients are. You taste the food the way it was meant to be tasted,” he says.

And when you try that same meal again without having used marijuana you can still taste all those ingredients, Coohill continues. “It’s almost as if pot trains us how to taste or enjoy something.”

Turning a Meal into an
Exciting Journey

Imagine you go out to dinner with a group of friends. You order wine, a few appetizers. Somebody remarks how good the crab cake is and conversation moves on. You could be talking about the weather, the kids…10 percent of the conversation would be about the food.

Couple eating food #oncannabis

Celebrate shared culinary moments #oncannabis, and the memories will last a lifetime.

Ingest a little herb before the meal and the ratio is likely to balance itself at 50-50, like – wow – what’s happening here? Let’s all taste this together.

“The food becomes more interesting and you’re suddenly exploring it and enjoying it together,” Coohill says. “Now we’re talking about it a lot more, honing in on this experience that we’re paying good money for as opposed to just a general conversation.”

The Right Strain for the Right Meal

Coohill believes that the next big focus in THC-inspired dining will be figuring out which strains pair best with how we taste different types of foods – not unlike pairing certain wines with particular dishes.

Maybe a sativa would match well with the complexity of French or Italian food, and a spicy Mexican meal might pleasantly contrast with a relaxing indica strain.

Mexican food

Do you agree that an indica strain would pair well with spicy Mexican food? What other tantalizing combinations might we explore?

That’s not to say we need to toke up before every meal. When enhanced sensitivity becomes the new normal every time we sit down to dinner, we might or might not lose appreciation of that exhilarating contrast.

Keeping Everything in Moderation

In all his years working as a chef, Coohill has never seen a pot-related incident where a guest was so stoned they’d become an annoyance to the other guests. He cannot say the same for alcohol.

He points out that within the restaurant industry, opponents of legalization were afraid that it would cause liquor sales to go down. And they were afraid that people would smoke pot all day and be too lazy to make it to the restaurants. None of that has happened, except maybe an increase in dessert sales, Coohill jokes.

Dessert and cannabis

Still have room for dessert? Remember you don’t have to eat the whole thing if you’re full!

“Pot and alcohol are two totally different experiences. Whichever you choose as a companion to your evening is fine. The most important thing in both cases is moderation and responsibility,” Coohill says.

Your Favorite Food Experience #OnCannabis?

Did we get you thinking about food and cannabis in a different way? Are there specific food and strain combinations you’d like to try? Any recommendations?

If you liked this latest installment in the #oncannabis campaign, be sure to share with your friends and check out the previous two videos.

  1. How to Literally Out Run the Stoner Stigma #OnCannabis
  2. Can You Find Wellness with Cannabis and Yoga?


Stay tuned for another #oncannabis video next week!