With marijuana now legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia, industries are cashing in on the increasing accessibility of pot. Wired outlined legal marijuana's $40 billion future, and Forbes called legal cannabis this year's "best startup opportunity." The book industry is no exception, and traditional publishers are getting in on the action in a new way, with two releasing upscale cannabis cookbooks this year.
Karin Lazarus, the owner of Sweet Mary Jane, a popular Boulder, Colo., spot for baked medical marijuana-laced edibles, has been called the "Martha Stewart of weed baking" by New York magazine, and is the star of Colorado’s growing canni-business industry. Her debut cookbook, Sweet Mary Jane: 75 Delicious Cannabis-Infused High-end Desserts, is due from Avery in June.
When Lazarus approached the publisher with her cookbook idea, they immediately loved it. "There are plenty of stoner cookbooks to be found on the internet and in specialty stores but, as far as we know, Sweet Mary Jane is the first major effort by one of the Big Five publishing houses to publish a high-end cannabis cookbook that takes the subject of baking with medicinal marijuana seriously and provides real, gourmet baking recipes," said Avery associate editor Gigi Campo.
Campo also added that there’s been little resistance in terms of marketing, as booksellers and distributors, even in states where weed hasn't been decriminalized, seek out the cookbook.
Lazarus walks cooks through the importance of labeling, changing legal issues, required equipment, potency limits, and other potholes. The old addition of “lawn clippings” into chocolate-y brownie mix is a thing of the past, Lazarus explained. Her new application infuses it into sugar, the “magical ingredient” which masks the grassy flavor of the herb most effectively, concocting recipes such as Smashing Pumpkin White Chocolate-Pumpkin Bars, Mad Batter Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake, and Pot Tarts.
In September, Skyhorse Publishing will release The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook: Feel-Good Food for Home Cooks by Robyn Griggs Lawrence, former editor-in-chief of Natural Home magazine, who also hails from Boulder. The book is a collection of recipes from chefs across the country, and features gourmet recipes for Crab and Mahi Mahi Sliders with Cannabis, Turmeric, and Garlic Sauce; and Wild Mushroom, Cannabis, and Hazelnut Pâté with Apple, Bacon, and Sage.
"I think people who want to experiment with cannabis as an ingredient will appreciate a more high end cookbook with sophisticated recipes," said Skyhorse editor Nicole Frail. "The Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook, for example, is about much more than pot brownies. It’s designed for the adult entertainer who wants to throw a classy, fun, and no-stress dinner party with close friends. It’s also for those using medical marijuana who don’t want to smoke and are seeking relief."
According to publicist Sam Caggiula, the publisher is "rolling out the publicity as if it were a single-subject high-end cookbook."
"By presenting the material as such, we hope to make it clear the use of marijuana in various forms is a legitimate trend in cooking," added Caggiula. "The book is for serious cooks looking to expand their mind and cooking knowledge...As the use of cannabis has become more mainstream and more states move to legalize both for medical use and for pleasure, having the book come out now is the opportune moment."