Greasy pans strewn around flour-encrusted countertops; trails of shriveled marijuana leaves spilling out of coffee grinders; empty boxes of Betty Crocker brownie mix everywhere. But once inside the sterile kitchen at the Green Cross medical marijuana collective, surrounded by immaculate black granite countertops and sleek silver appliances, I realized I would have to shift my preconceptions of what it means to be stony baloney and baking. The place reeked of tidiness nearly as much as it reeked of pot.
Which is one reason Green Cross president Kevin Reed allowed me a tour of his edibles company in the first place. San Francisco is one of the few counties in California that provides stringent guidelines for making and selling marijuana treats, and Kevin says he’s meticulous about following them. “From day one, I knew that people couldn't just smoke this,” he explains, taking a puff from a joint the size of my pinky. “They need to be able to eat it.”
Since the club opened in 2004, the variety of goodies the collective offers, branded as "IncrediMeds," has expanded into the realms of savory, vegan, and gluten-free. Now there’s something for everyone: cookies (six different kinds), rice crispy treats, coconut and mint truffles, salted caramels, hot cocoa, olive oil, honey, agave, rice crackers, tea, lozenges, gummies, and more.
As someone who has friends and relatives who have benefited from medicinal marijuana prescriptions, I can appreciate the need to offer the substance in a variety of formats. And although the brownies looked pretty delicious, I don’t have a medical marijuana prescription card, so I refrained from any sampling during my visit. But that’s not to say I wasn’t tempted. Arranged on a plate, without their packaging, the IncrediMeds look like something you might find at a bakery or candy store. In part to avoid young children – or sugar addicts like myself – from stuffing handfuls of the potent edibles into our mouths, San Francisco’s Department of Public Health set some boundaries that Kevin and crew follow.
When it comes to legitimately selling pot edibles, packaging is key. According to the county’s rules, they must be individually wrapped (in many cases, double-wrapped) in opaque material and clearly labeled as “medicinal” and “containing marijuana.” The products can’t look too yummy from the outside, and names have to be as literal as possible. For example, the Green Cross used to sell Blueberry Craze Cookies, but Kevin says the name had to recently change to Medical Cannabis Blueberry Cookies.
marijuana collectives must sell only the goods that have been made in-house. The idea is to prevent commercialized vendors from widely distributing the products, which could potentially draw scrutiny from state or federal health departments.
“The spirit of the law is to be a nonprofit collective or cooperative working to better the community,” Kevin explained. “The most important part is that the health department in San Francisco and the state of California look at this as alternative medicine. Not a food.”
It was admittedly difficult to gaze at the rice cracker mix and chocolate peanut butter cups spread out in front of me and think, “not snacks.” In fact, as I watched the chef whip a bowl of batter to make a batch of THC Infused Lemon Drop Cookies, I couldn’t help but wonder where the THC part came in. There didn’t appear to be a shred of weed anywhere.
I learned that there weren’t any green buds in the kitchen because every edible at Green Cross is made with a THC liquid provided by the cultivators. The concentrate is made from grape seed oil and marijuana trimmings (after the buds have been removed) and then tested in a local lab called CW Analytical.
The lab provides the Green Cross with information about the potency, safety, and quality of its THC concentrate. The concentrate must test between 65 and 80 percent THC for Green Cross to use it in its offerings. A bottle of the liquid the size of a thimble holds enough concentrate for about 25 servings, and every serving should contain about 50 milliliters of THC concentrate – which Kevin says is a safe amount for any first-timer.
– THC concentrate added – and dropped onto cookie sheets, the chef pops them in the oven. Any trace scent of baking cookies is overwhelmed by the smell of weed from the delivery hub in the adjacent room. Still, things are happening in those cookies: The THC is activated with heat in the preparation of the product, whether it’s baked or added to butter or oil. This approach means IncrediMeds don’t taste or smell like weed and they aren’t green or peppered with crunchy pot stems. This can be a deterrent to some people who enjoy the taste.
But Kevin says he’s not in the business of making food that tastes like pot. He’s in the business of making people feel better. I’m certainly in good spirits by the time we wrap up our tour. Whether it was a contact high or just the aftermath of good conversation, I stepped out of the IncrediMeds kitchen and back into the sunshine with a smile.
To order from or learn more about the Green Cross, visit the website.
To make your very own Green Cross goodies, try this recipe:
Hot and Spicy Mixed Nuts
Servings per batch: 22
1/3 cup rosemary oil
1 gram THC oil
2 ½ containers Fancy Mixed Nuts
½ container cashews
20 oz. pistachios
½ cup cayenne 90
1 ½ oz. red chili flakes
Place all nuts in a large mixing bowl. Heat rosemary oil in microwave for 90 seconds. Add THC oil to rosemary oil and mix well. Add mixed oils to nuts. Using gloves, fold nuts and oil for 2 minutes. Mix cayenne and chili flakes into mixed nuts. Fold evenly until flakes and oil are evenly distributed. Let stand for 2 hours.