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Pot Club Food

San Jose’s pot clubs offer a variety of tasty ways to make the medicine go down

AS Metro’s food editor, it’s my job to stay on top of food trends in Silicon Valley. Gourmet taco trucks? I’m there. Farm-to-table restaurants. All over it. A new Somali restaurant? On it.

Recently, I’ve caught the whiff of a new culinary phenomenon that has San Jose buzzing: pot club cuisine. There has been an explosion of pot clubs (medicinal marijuana dispensaries or cooperatives is the preferred term) in San Jose. Anyone with a medicinal marijuana card will encounter a smorgasbord of weed-laced food. Some patients don’t like to inhale their medicine, so edible forms of THC offer another option. Instead of take and bake, think take and get baked. Stoner food has gone way beyond pot brownies: pizza, ice cream, chocolate sauce and even soda pop. I hasten to say that this will not be a review of pot clubs. Let’s call it a survey. While I pride on myself on my stomach’s capacity and resiliency, I don’t think my brain could handle the rigors of a thorough taste test.

As pot shop workers will tell you, eating your medicine instead of smoking it means the effect is delayed and can be stronger. So you’d want to be careful about eating, say, a quarter bag of “I Can’t Believe It’s Pot Butter” buttered popcorn at 9pm and then go to bed stone-cold sober only to wake up a few hours later with the sinking feeling that you’re deeply and inconveniently stoned. Not that I have any firsthand knowledge of that or anything.

Doug Chloupek, co-owner’s of San Jose’s Medmar Healing Center, a pot club that offers customers medical marijuana as well as massage, yoga, marijuana-growing classes and hemp clothing, says edibles account for about a quarter of the nonprofit organization’s business. Prices range from $7 to $15. Most products come from bakeries in Oakland and Santa Cruz and include a wide range of pastries like cookies and cupcakes but also candy, bubble gum and even savory items like peanut butter, salad dressing and barbecue sauce. “If you can think of it, they’ve done it,” says Chloupek.

The medicinal component of the food generally comes from butter or oil that has been cooked with marijuana. It’s also possible to make pot-steeped glycerine that goes into hard candies and beverages like Lazy Lemonade, OG Kush and Green Crack.

Over at the San Jose Patients Group on The Alameda, volunteer Amy, who didn’t want to give her last name, says edibles account for half of the businesses’ sales because so many of their customers are elderly and don’t like to smoke. She has one customer who is 98 and another who is 92. Many vendors offers their edibles for free to terminally ill elderly patients. “Everyone loves us because we’re like a bakery,” she says. “We had to get two refrigerators because we have so much stuff.”

Palliative Healthcare Center is unique among San Jose marijuana dispensaries in that it has a pastry chef who creates its own line of food. Jessica McMannus graduated from California Culinary Academy and worked in local restaurants before she began cooking up medical marijuana treats. Some of her products include lollipops, German chocolate cupcakes, cookies, truffles, and gummy candies.

With dozens of other dispensaries in the city, there’s more opportunity for other pastry chefs to move into this homegrown business.

Metro intern Mariel Balderas contributed to this story.