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Now legal, pot’s getting fancy in Washington state

420dinner Table
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Courtesy of Derek Simcik

Here in Washington state, chefs and entrepreneurs are trying to elevate marijuana through food.

Jody Hall was the first to bring the cupcake craze to Seattle when she opened Cupcake Royale in 2003. Her latest enterprise is also on the sweet side. In 2014, Hall opened the Goodship Company.

In Sodo, Hall showed me around the company’s baking facility. It looked like any commercial kitchen. “It just has some magic ingredient that is highly regulated,” she said.

caption: Jody Hall founded the Goodship company in 2014.
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1 of 2 Jody Hall founded the Goodship company in 2014.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

But don’t expect pot-infused cupcakes here. Instead, there are chocolates, cookies and other sweets made with cannabis.

Every ingredient is weighed and recorded, down to the gram. “You always want to be uber-accurate because it’s a science,” said Hall. “And [if] you put too much of one thing in you can blow the whole batch, especially with THC.”

THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Hall says some people may have had bad experiences with edibles — either because they didn’t taste good, or because they were potent, or both. The products here are made with micro doses of THC, Hall explained.

“We want you to have a good time, figure out what your cruising control is,” said Hall. “And then once you know what it is… that you can consistently have that experience.”

caption: Pastilles made by the Goodship Company.
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Pastilles made by the Goodship Company.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Today, the pot industry is still evolving as businesses, governments and consumers are trying to figure this all out.

“What is THC, what is CBD? What does this mean? What is 10 mg? What does that even mean? Is that even a glass of wine, is it a shot of whiskey? It’s all brand new vernacular,” Hall said. 

Hall says they’re trying to show customers this is not the marijuana of their youth. The company also started a lecture series called the Goodship Academy of Higher Education, pun intended. Here, both speakers and attendees are invited to consume marijuana beforehand and participate in heady discussions.  

Hall isn’t the only one trying to elevate marijuana.

caption: Derek Simcik, Executive Chef at Thompson Hotel, Seattle.
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Derek Simcik, Executive Chef at Thompson Hotel, Seattle.
Photo courtesy of Derek Simcik

Derek Simcik, executive chef at Thompson Hotel in Seattle, is trying to offer a different way of enjoying cannabis.

“The events I’m putting on, a majority of [the customers], I feel, are ones looking for the elevated experience,” he said. 

Recently, Simcik prepared a special multi-course dinner. Instead of wine, the dishes were paired with marijuana. A local pot shop selected the cannabis to complement each dish, like a sommelier would with wine.

“We started you off with 100 percent CBD strain flower that got your body mellowed, but kept you calm, collect throughout the meal," Simcik said. "Then we took you on a ride with a sativa dominant, which is more of an enlightened, awakening kind of high that most sativas give you.”

Simcik said the meal ended with a strain that’s a little more heavy-hitting. He said he wanted to highlight Washington-grown cannabis.

caption: One of Derek Simcik's courses served at a special, cannabis-paired dinner.
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One of Derek Simcik's courses served at a special, cannabis-paired dinner.
Courtesy of Derek Simcik

“I find that terpenes are pretty much the flavor profile or highlighted in Washington state cannabis,” he said. “So when you say it smells like berries or pineapple or pine needle, it really does.”

These invitation-only dinners take place in a rented space. Simcik said he created them mainly for the conversations. Having cannabis certainly helped facilitate discussions.

“We knew we would get people to talk more freely and some of them to ask questions that were probably more controversial that they would’ve asked because you’re in a more relaxed, comfortable, safe environment.”

Simcik says cannabis is on a path to maturity. People are treating cannabis similar to how one would enjoy good bourbon or scotch. 

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