How to throw a medical-marijuana dinner party

With a little help from a top canna chef, our writer throws the ultimate medical-pot dinner party

illustration by hayley doshay

My friends went from sober small talk to jittery, irrelevant chatter sooner than anticipated. One insisted on rushing home to actually, literally bring his television over so everyone could play Street Fighter. Another suggested running out for art-and-craft supplies.

Yes, these people were all really stoned.

No one left so soon, though. Instead, they slowly sank into their seats. The THC-laced bread pudding was on its way.

I had embarked on throwing a legit, medical-marijuana dinner party. I love to cook and entertain, and high people love to eat and be entertained. It seemed perfect. It was perfect.

But I had never prepared edibles before. I scoured marijuana cookbooks and websites, and quickly learned the world of weed cookery has grown far, far beyond pot brownies and space cakes.

I called up Jeff the 420 Chef, who the Daily Beast dubbed the “Julia Child of weed.” Jeff doesn’t use his last name in his medicinal cooking endeavors, and he recently ditched his sales job in New York to throw fancy marijuana-infused dinner parties and teach cooking classes around the country.

He had a lot of great advice, which I shall now pass on to you.

Before grabbing a stick of butter, pay attention to the THC content of your bud. Some strains have 20 percent, others 10 percent, and that makes a big difference when you’re dealing with a potentially frightening Maureen Dowd overdose. Ask at the dispensary and calculate accordingly. For example, if you buy a gram of weed with 10 percent THC, you’d get 1,000 milligrams of weed and 100 milligrams of THC. Most edibles in dispensaries carry 10 milligrams of THC per serving, but 5 milligrams is solid for a beginner. So depending on the experience levels of your party, one stick of butter infused with a gram would give you 10 to 20 servings—roughly one tablespoon for regular users or a half of a tablespoon for beginners.

Then, you need to think about the mood of your party. Do you want dancing? Go with a sativa strain. Do you want it chill? Indica. Maybe you want to start with sativa, then end with indica so everyone gets tired and goes home sooner. I won’t tell.

On to the fun part: menu planning. Everything must be fatty, obviously, because of the weed butter or infused oil you’ll be using in each dish. And since THC starts to degrade at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll want to avoid frying, sautéing or baking your goods at high temperatures. Remember those pot brownies you attempted in college at the usual 350 degrees, and how for some reason they just didn’t get you very high?

And finally, the true genius and challenge of the dinner party: flexibility.

“Monitor everyone at your party. After an hour, an hour and a half, ask them how they’re doing and gauge what to serve them next,” Jeff advised. “You can’t make a recipe exactly the same every time for every person. If you replace a stick of butter with cannabutter in a dessert after a full meal, everyone’s going to get too much.”

I opted for a four-course meal, averaging a little more than a tablespoon of butter per person spread over two hours.

They began with Thai iced tea and a buckwheat blini with a lemony yogurt-radish sauce. Guests could taste the cannabutter mixed into the tea’s condensed milk, but no one seemed to mind. On empty stomachs, the fuzzy relaxation set in within 30 minutes, though it can often take more than an hour to kick in.

Jeff recommended Indian spices to mask the weed taste, so I went with a curried sweet potato and lentil soup. No one could detect anything off. Then, I served pasta with a wild mushroom ragu and plenty of fresh herbs, to compliment the taste of the herb. That worked too.

I baked two bread puddings—one brushed with a bit of weed butter and the other without—just in case anyone felt too high for more marijuana, but not too high to say no to dessert.

Guests filled out comment cards along the way, generally attesting to absence of the expected ick taste. Part of that was likely due to Jeff’s cannabutter recipe, which is available on his website for you home chefs.

It starts with blanching the nugs, then decarbing, then slowly simmering the ground up weed with butter over indirect heat for four hours. The unorthodox process took a whole day, but it resulted in a green, potent, light-tasting butter.

In the morning, my friends reported back appreciating the pace of the evening and the gradual high that never became overwhelming. Most tracked in the comment cards feeling “sober,” then “giggly,” then “cloudy,” then “elated.”

But no two people are the same, proven by the one who just wrote: “communication an issue.”