Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

April 6, 2010
Brownie baker tests for safe weed, but pot treats can be potent

Thumbnail image for MAJ ANDY REHM.JPGWhen your signature product contains the best of European chocolate, rich butter, prime California marijuana and a frosty top of hashish, the quality must be indisputable.

At least that is the view of Andy Rehm, director of a Berkeley medical marijuana collective that runs a commercial kitchen to bake weed-infused brownies, cookies, toffees and other edibles.

Rehm likes to boast that the "Big Bang Brownies" of the Green Pi bakery are tasty and guaranteed to "give you a two-layered bump," a medicinal boost both from frosting that touches the tongue and the brownie ingested in the body.

But Rehm says Green Pi is also "really concerned about making a safe, standardized product with scientific testing."

So the Berkeley baker sends its marijuana to the Steep Hill Lab, a unique pot testing lab written about in Monday's Sacramento Bee, to ensure there are no molds or pesticides in the weed before it is cooked into food.

The kitchen also has a micro-biologist on staff to inspect incoming pot from patient growers and ensure the cleanliness of the baking operation. Its brownies and cookies are then packed into difficult to open, air-tight laminated bags.

Thumbnail image for MAJ CANNABIS FOOD.JPG"We're in this to do some good," Rehm said. "These are $12 brownies. It's not too much for us to test to ensure that we're protecting this high quality medicine."

Debby Goldsberry, co-founder of the Medical Cannabis Safety Council, a Bay Area group working on marijuana safety issues, offers a caution when it comes to brownies and other baked goods. Though the Steep Hill Lab tests marijuana for potency, there is no test for the final product that comes out of the oven.

"With baked goods it is harder to monitor the potency," said Goldsberry, an operator of the Berkeley Patients Group medical marijuana dispensary. "Sometimes, people take too much."

The Medical Cannabis Safety Council put out a warning for pot patients who prefer to eat their weed than smoke it.

It cautions them to start with a quarter dose - or a bare nibble of a brownie - and then wait and hour to "analyze the effects" before ingesting more.

That raises an interesting challenge for lovers of brownies, medicinal or otherwise.

Ever tried to take one bite and then wait an hour for another?

Pictured: Baker Andy Rehm and Green Pi's safety packed selections. Michael Jones/mjones@sacbee.com.

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