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How Edible Cannabis Went From ‘Mulchy’ Brownies to a Booming Industry

On this episode of Gastropod, hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley explore THC’s growing role in how and what we eat

Hands in black vinyl gloves crumble hash over a stainless steel sifter. Bloomberg via Getty Images

In July, Eater editor-in-chief Amanda Kludt announced our exciting new collaboration with Gastropod, the award-winning and endlessly informative podcast about the science and history of food.

Today we release the first fruit — or bud? — of that collaboration, one episode in a two-part series about cannabis edibles, from the very first “bhang” drinks enjoyed by ancient peoples to the culinary cannabis competitions of today. Say “high” and listen along with hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley as they trace the plant’s origins and use across centuries and continents, through prohibition and the fear of reefer madness, and the generational destruction suffered by Black and brown people during America’s “war on drugs.”

Along with guest experts, Graber and Twilley also explore the rise of the pot brownie as many American’s introduction to edible cannabis and touch on the D.A.R.E and “Just Say No” anti-drug campaigns that infiltrated U.S. classrooms in the late ’80s and early ’90s. In the past couple decades, a cultural shift has made marijuana both widely accessible and largely decriminalized (at least for white people; according to the ACLU, Black people “are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana” despite equal use), leading to cannabis cooking shows and mainstream experimentation with using THC as an ingredient in food that’s not just palatable like the “mulchy” brownies of the past, but actually delicious.

Despite still being federally illegal, marijuana has become a huge business, attracting celebrity investors (and prolific stoners) like Seth Rogen, Martha Stewart, and — perhaps obviously — Willie Nelson. Listen along as Graber and Twilley offer their first educational and entertaining bong hit of edible cannabis history and how we arrived at the current moment.

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