Absinthe, Cannabis and Prohibition: Is it the green thing?Read More
by John Garvey
It’s enchanting—watching the green liquor cloud as ice melt drips into the glass. The spirit has a highly distinct, botanical flavor profile that a beer drinker may struggle to describe, but not to appreciate. Absinthe is, in a word, peculiar.
Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe the color green triggers some puritanical impulse, or the drink’s association with artists and oddballs claiming it’s a creative stimulant makes people in high places feel threatened. Whatever the case, the stigma against absinthe has outlasted its prohibition and the arguments behind it. The same can be said of another green substance that has often inspired art.
Some episodes in history read like pure satire. People with liberal views on cannabis take a curious delight in recounting prohibitionists’ more bizarre claims: “pot can make you gay,” the Gateway Theory, the looming stoned bunnies pandemic (remember that one?)—even the racist undertones (and overtones) of the war on drugs.
Absinthe and cannabis are comrades who long ago ran afoul of powerful interests and, to a lesser extent, the public. The historical parallels between the vilification of absinthe and that of cannabis are too many to count.
It’s almost too ludicrous to make you mad.
The Green Fairy descends upon hapless mortals
“Absinthe, like most botanical liqueurs , began as medicine,” notes Stephen Gould, proprietor of Golden Moon Distillery in Golden, CO.
The botanical trio that makes absinthe what it is — grand wormwood, sweet fennel and green anise — was first documented in an ancient Egyptian medical text called Eber’s Papyrus in 1550 B.C. The combination of herbs was believed to have medicinal qualities and was used for millennia. Absinthe as it is known today, however, was first sold commercially in France and Switzerland around 1800.
In the 1840s, absinthe was marketed as an antimalarial for French troops campaigning in northern Africa. It quickly became popular back home. “People wanted to drink the drink of the troops,” explains Gould.
Gould is one of the world’s preeminent absinthe distillers and has an encyclopedic knowledge of the drink’s history. He’s taught absinthe production at the London Craft Distilling Expo, developed around a dozen absinthe formulas being used commercially, and won international recognition for his own product, REDUX.
“People regularly ask if all the bad things that they've heard about it are true,” he states. “And of course the answer is no. Most of them are propaganda. What is potentially unhealthy about absinthe is that it contains alcohol.”
As the spirit’s popularity grew, it became known colloquially as la fée verte (“the green fairy”). It would never overtake France’s wine culture, although by the turn of the 19th century it would be popular enough to be seen as a threat by the wine industry.
One thing that falls by the wayside in nearly every absinthe-related discussion is how palatable and versatile quality absinthe is. Gould points out that Harry Craddock’s esteemed Savoy Cocktail Book had 106 recipes with absinthe listed as an ingredient. It continued to be requested in highbrow lounges for decades after being banned in the U.S., and bartenders valued it for its flexibility.
As testimony to absinthe’s cultural relevance, the French happy hour in the late 19th and early 20th Century was dubbed l’heure verte—“the green hour.” Why was it absent from American and European bars for so long? What brought about its re-emergence?
Reefer Absinthe Madness: Absinthism
In France, absinthe had become a household name by the 1880s. Its cultural profile was growing, and with that, a backlash that seems unsurprising in hindsight.
“Absinthe makes one crazy and criminal, provokes epilepsy and tuberculosis, and has killed thousands of French people. It makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman, and a degenerate of the infant, it disorganizes and ruins the family and menaces the future of the country.” - Petition by the French Legue National Contre L’Alcoolisme, which gathered 400,000 signatures in 1907.
Grand wormwood, absinthe’s best known ingredient, contains the terpene thujone, which may trigger seizures. Thujone’s presence in the finished product was the main scientific and legal basis for banning absinthe. Only in the early 2000s was it proven that, legally speaking, absinthe contains less than 10 parts per million of it.
Dr. Valentin Magnan (“a pivotal figure in the historical classification of mental diseases”) conducted a series of animal experiments with alcohol, absinthe and wormwood. The methods wouldn't have cleared the bar of modern scientific inquiry, but he concluded that absinthe caused problems distinct from those stemming from alcohol abuse. These included epileptic seizures, auditory and visual hallucinations and fits of violence. The disease absinthism, which may have been concocted by the French wine industry, now had apparent validation.
Magnan was an earnest researcher, but his biases are clear. In one critic's words, "his effectiveness was limited by his preoccupation with the so-called 'degeneration' of the French race and by his unbending conviction that alcohol was the prime cause of most mental disorders." Magnan deserves more respect than the crackpots that came up with the gateway theory of cannabis, but his conclusions about absinthe were alarmist and misplaced. Nonetheless, they offered convincing testimony against la fée verte.
At this point, however, absinthe was generating 50 million francs a year in tax revenue. Much for this reason, the French anti-absinthe movement floundered for several more years. Even after absinthe bans were passed in Belgium in 1905, Switzerland in 1910, the U.S. in 1912 and most other countries, it endured in France.
By 1914 the French authorities were getting skittish. Germany’s military might was building and the German birth rate was much higher than France’s, which had fallen in previous decades. France legitimately had an epidemic of alcoholism, but absinthe was singled out as uniquely dangerous. More than wine, more than beer, more even than other spirits, absinthe was believed to imperil France’s national defense. In the run up to WWI, generals used their enhanced wartime powers to ban absinthe in individual provinces like Nice. Finally, the minister of the interior, Louis Malvy, single-handedly forbade the sale of absinthe nationwide.
The Chamber of Deputies, in March 1915, voted overwhelmingly to ban the production, shipment and sale of absinthe. The law went into effect almost immediately. Absinthe wasn’t mourned long. More than 1.3 million Frenchmen, 1.8 million Germans and countless others died on battlefields in The War to End All Wars.
Absinthe and Cannabis
Racial and cultural biases played an important role in anti-absinthe sentiment. For instance, absinthe’s association with bohemian culture contributed to its vilification, much as the association between cannabis and jazz, Chicano, and subsequently hippie culture was used to frighten Americans regarding cannabis. Racism wasn’t front-and-center in the anti-absinthe movement as it was in anti-cannabis circles. (Harry Anslinger, the first head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, argued that “the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”) Still, anti-semitism played a role, according to the delightful book “Absinthe: History in a Bottle,” by Conrad Barnaby III.
Edouard Drumont, “the premier anti-Semitic intellectual of the day,” derided absinthe as a clandestine “tool of the Jews” in his newspaper La Libre Parole. Arthur and Edmond Veil-Picard, who were half-Jewish, had in 1906 purchased a controlling interest in the Pernod Fils Company. (Pernod Fils was the most popular brand of absinthe at the time and the benchmark others were judged by.)
Barnaby writes that “In 1898, absinthe and anti-Semitism met in a bizarre fashion — over an absinthe bottle. A lesser known manufacturer at Mondbeliard (in the Doubs Valley) labeled his bottles ‘Absinthe Anti-Juive’ (Anti-Jewish) with the sub-legend ‘France aux Francais’ (France for the French). Its success is undocumented, but the story indicates the factionalism and insecurity France suffered at the time.”
For better or worse, the pseudo-science outlasted those specific racial biases. Enduring perceptions that absinthe is a hallucinogen, an epileptic or otherwise scary continue to annoy bartenders and connoisseurs. “It just amazes me that hundred-plus-year-old propaganda is still being used to vilify a product that is actually really an amazing product,” says Gould.
It is puzzling how hell-bent people were on distinguishing absinthe from other alcoholic drinks in terms of its potential for harm. Many who didn’t necessarily identify with the temperance movement were virulently opposed to the green fairy. The lack of scientific validity, logic or intellectual honesty in their arguments can only be compared to the war on cannabis. Anti-absinthe and anti-“marihuana” propaganda posters even bear dated, stylistic similarities.
Debriefing (ooh la la!)
“The first stage is like ordinary drinking, the second when you begin to see monstrous and cruel things, but if you can persevere you will enter in upon the third stage where you see things that you want to see, wonderful curious things.” - Oscar Wilde, describing the effects of absinthe
Remarks like Wilde's make it impossible to completely discount all of absinthe’s unusual properties, but were these the musings of artists in love with a trendy spirit or did they have substance? Did absinthe influence Van Gogh's perception of color, play a role in catalyzing impressionism, inspire Paul Verlaine and Alfred de Musset to write poetry dripping with excellence?
Going by current evidence, absinthe's effects are no more distinct from other spirits than beer's effects are to wine or tequila. Perhaps the drink's herbal backbone makes it a creative stimulant. But does tequila really make people belligerent or is that a self-fulfilling prophecy based on anecdotes and stereotypes?
At any rate, absinthe doesn't make people hallucinate or have seizures. The best scientific and medical evidence used to vilify absinthe wouldn't measure up to modern scientific methods.
Absinthe was legalized throughout the E.U. and U.S. in 2005 and 2007, respectively. Yet it still bears both a stigma and an allure stemming from a century-old propaganda campaign.
Much like Colorado’s finest. ♦
I am the Green Fairy
My robe is the color of despair
I have nothing in common with the fairies of the past
What I need is blood, red and hot, the palpitating flesh of my victims
Alone, I will kill France, the Present is dead, Vive the Future…
But me, I kill the future and in the family I destroy the love of country, courage, honor,
I am the purveyor of hell, penitentiaries, hospitals
Who am I finally? I am the instigator of crime
I am ruin and sorrow
I am shame
I am dishonor
I am death
I am absinthe
- Poem taught to, and recited by, French schoolchildren, circa 1900.
The World of Juicing is Missing Something: RAW CANNABISRead More
Photo and article by Samuel Farley, Twitter and Instagram: @ THC_Samuel
Juicing whole plant raw cannabis (flower, stems and fan leaves included) and finding other ways to add raw cannabis to a daily healthy diet has been a popular topic in recent cannabis news. Although there is little scientific research being done involving the benefits of consuming cannabis in its raw form, many people both in the medical community and elsewhere continue to share its benefits.
It has been well documented in various scientific studies, including one by Verhoeckx and colleagues, that cannabis in its raw form contains THCa (the “a” stands for acid) and only when cannabis is smoked or vaporized does it actually change and release the Delta 9-THC that is known for the euphoric “high” of cannabis. Knowing this, many have begun to consume raw cannabis to improve health and cure certain diseases. There are many health benefits associated and the various types of cannabinoids present (over 60) in cannabis that are hugely beneficial to the body. There are multiple people in my family who suffer from Crohn’s, and many traditional medications have not worked or have not helped with all of the issues that they experience. Coming from a family of health nuts, I’ve grown to have a strong appreciation and understanding of the value of a healthy diet and have juiced many times myself. However, juicing raw cannabis was completely new to me.
I had the opportunity to speak with Alice Darling, a raw cannabis juicing expert who was able to mitigate the symptoms of her Crohn’s disease by adding raw cannabis in various forms to her health care regimen. Alice began using cannabis as a medicine at the age of 18 to help treat a heart condition called tachycardia (an excessively rapid heart beat) as well as her Crohn’s disease. At first, simply smoking cannabis helped many of her symptoms, but over time she began to realize that it was only treating certain aspects of her health issues. It was soon after that she began hearing about the full-body benefits of juicing the cannabis sativa plant raw.
She was introduced to raw cannabis juicing by her boyfriend, and she began including it as a part of her daily diet during the summer of 2014. She saw the benefits within a couple of days. At first she noticed improvements in her mood and she began to sleep better. After a few weeks, her stomach issues improved, and a year later her Crohn’s disease is in remission. She explained to me that it takes quite a bit of raw plant material to make a raw cannabis juice drink and that finding the raw material is often the hardest part. For best results, Alice recommends that the plants always be fresh. She juices an average of about half an ounce of whole, raw cannabis plant for her standard juice blend of six to eight ounces. Her favorite juice mixture is a combination of wet, raw cannabis plant, lemon, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and a little bit of cayenne. Adding veggies like carrots and cucumbers can add volume as well as additional nutrients and flavor. Towards the end of our conversation Alice mentioned, “The most eye opening experience from juicing was realizing the potential treatment you can give your whole body and endocannabinoid system; juicing has allowed me to take my healing to the next level.”
The real benefits of juicing is that it gives the nutrients the ability to spread throughout the whole body and blood stream via the natural digestive process. At the end of the interview it was time for me to try some raw cannabis juice for the first time. Alice pulled out a container with just enough raw material to make a small glass of raw cannabis juice and added it and a small amount of water to the juicer. When I took my first sip I was somewhat surprised. Raw cannabis juice tastes similar to kale juice, so I decided to add some carrots to the juicer and it turned into a somewhat bitterer version of a vegetable juice drink. If raw cannabis juice can help Alice deal with a serious internal illness like Crohn’s disease, then it is definitely a topic worthy of further exploration. Hopefully we can get to a point where cannabis is legal nationwide, and government-funded research involving raw cannabis in all forms is the norm, so people everywhere can benefit from and have access to it without fearing arrest.
by Caroline Hayes
HempBox. Such a simple, sweet, delicious concept.
One of the newest trends in the past couple of years is having themed goodie-filled boxes sent right to the consumer’s doorstep. Whether it’s beauty products or items for your dog, there’s something so exciting about receiving a box treats delivered right to you.
Based out of Denver, HempBox offers treats for the hemp connoisseur, which are hand picked by co-owner Samantha Sandt, while her fiancé and co-owner Jake Browne helps with day-to-day activities, as well as handles the social media and website development.
With backgrounds in the cannabis industry, Jake and Samantha kept their eyes on the changing legislation regarding hemp and cannabis laws. Once A64 went into effect, allowing the cultivation of hemp in Colorado, the two saw an opportunity and that’s when HempBox went into action.
As a subscriber of Birch Box, Samantha was familiar with the excitement that came along with receiving a monthly box of goodies in the mail. Together, Sam and Jake put together a campaign to raise money for the HempBox concept on IndieGogo in April 2014. The first boxes came out shortly after that in June 2014.
With having subscribers from Alaska to Florida, Samantha and Jake are "working on a consumer market research survey to help our partners really hone in on specific market segments that are more apt to purchase hemp products. It’s imperative that we understand this growing market and we feel HempBox is poised to gather that data," Samantha informed.
Samantha sources products by reaching out to companies, but at the same time hemp companies are now coming to her asking to have their products promoted in HempBox (interested companies can go to www.hempbox.com/product-partners for more information). What a great way to get the word out about awesome hemp products.
What really get Samantha and Jake excited is sharing the amazing hemp infused goods with their subscribers, calling them ‘sinful treats’.
So what can we expect to see from them in the future? Samantha says they are "proud sponsors" of the Second Annual NoCo Hemp Expo, which takes place on April 4th in Colorado.
HempBox is offered as a one time, three or six month subscription and first time subscribers can receive 50 percent off their first box with the coupon code HempBox50.
Keep your eyes out for things to come from this Colorado Proud company.
Mystery Of MunchiesRead More
by Skyler Cannabaceae
Fire up a joint, rip a few bong hits, or take a toke from a pipe or vaporizer. There is one consequence of these actions that cannabis users can count on.
What it is that sends our taste buds into overdrive?
A new study from the journal Nature Neuroscience claims that it is a heightened sense of smell that makes a person crave food after using cannabis.
Science has known for decades that the human body has an endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids are compounds that have the same effect in the body as the cannabinoids in cannabis, like THC and CBD, but the body produces them naturally.
When a person uses cannabis, the cannabinoids from the plant (called phytocannabinoids) bind with receptors all over the body to produce different effects. But why is hunger one of those effects?
Perhaps it’s because hunger enhances a person’s sensory perception. In ancient times, this sharpened us up so we could better hunt and gather food. It’s called survival.
According to the study conducted by European scientists led by Giovanni Marsicano of the University of Bordeaux, when cannabinoids are received by cannabinoid type-1 (CB1) receptors in the main olfactory bulb (MOB) of the brain, they signal that the body is starving.
Mice were used as test subjects. Since all mammals share cannabinoid similarities, the brains of mice and humans function quite alike.
“CB1 receptors promote food intake in fasted mice by increasing odor detection,” according to the researchers. This increase in smell power, which occurs naturally when someone is actually hungry, leads to the brain thinking that the body is not just hungry, but that it is actually starving.
As a result, the brain craves fatty foods so that the body can store calories for later. That would explain why junk food is so appealing when we’re buzzed.
How about this for a puzzle: Other studies show that cannabis users are, as a group, significantly slimmer than non-users. But that’s another story.
While cannabis researchers welcomed this recent study, it is only part of the picture. Researchers have been gleaning bits and pieces over the years. Separate studies show different results, but they don’t contradict.
In 2011, a study led by a University of California-Irvine professor of pharmacology named Danielle Piomelli showed that when the taste of fatty food hits a person’s system it sends signals to the gut to produce endocannabinoids. CB1 receptors in the gut receive these endocannabinoids, which increases the desire for fatty foods.
In this study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers went a step further by genetically engineering mice that do not have CB1 receptors.
The result was that the “knock-out” mice still wanted to eat, but the craving for fatty foods was gone. This led researchers to believe that blocking the CB1 receptors in humans would cause the same effect and help to fight obesity. Unfortunately, they were unable to find a safe drug to block those receptors, and since so much is still unknown in this area of biology, that may have been for the best.
In another study, conducted by European researchers supported by the UK Medical Research Council and published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry, the result suggested that “Endocannabinoids and ghrelin [a natural hormone] are potent appetite stimulators and are known to interact” with the hypothalamus. Scientists found by injecting 2-AG (the endocannabinoid produced in the body that most resembles THC) into subjects that stimulation occurs in the hypothalamus the same as if the 2-AG were created by the body naturally.
The academic journal Neuropharmacology published a study in July of 2012 that had yet another take on munchies. While the researchers admitted that “[c]annabinoid receptor agonists are known to stimulate feeding in animals,” they believe that instead of being caused by heightened senses, it is actually the instant reward response of dopamine that is generated in the body after eating “highly palatable food.” In turn, that increase in pleasure makes you want to keep eating more of it.
All of these studies provide plausible and scientifically viable reasons why cannabis stimulates appetite. Perhaps each provides some truth.
The bottom line is that the cannabinoids in the plant, especially THC, interact with receptors in our bodies, programming us to want more of not just any food, but fatty food.
So if you’re on a diet, hide those cookies before you spark up that joint.
Fusilli Hemp Pasta by HempinessRead More
Hempiness is a company that understands the important health benefits of hemp. This UK company offers more than just the standard hemp seeds.
Hemp coffee, hempseed oil capsules and hemp flour are just a few of the great food products coming from Hempiness. I was lucky enough for them to send me their hemp flour infused fusilli pasta. This organic pasta is hempy because of the addition of hemp flour into the dried pasta mixture. I’ll tell you what, it just looks healthier than the
.88 cent box at the grocery store. It has a rich brown color. It cooks just like any other pasta and the consistency is soft and less gritty than whole grain pasta. I ate it with a rich Vodka sauce (my favorite) but any white or red sauce will do. It’s also delicious used in a cold pasta salad dish Serve it up with some hemp seed meatballs and you have yourself quite the health conscious meal. www.hempiness.co.uk
In the Spotlight: Hemp SeedsRead More
Hemp seeds are high in protein and contain nine amino acids including essentials like Omega-3s, which are valuable for healthy skin and hair, brain function, digestion and overall body health. They make a delicious and nutritious addition to salads, smoothies, oatmeal and even soups. So go ahead and stock your pantry with this new wave of health food that is here to stay.
Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts - These raw, shelled hemp seeds come in natural or organic and bags come in a variety of sizes, up to five pounds. www.manitobaharvest.com
Ziggy Marley’s Hemp Rules - These USDA organic seeds are offered as shelled or roasted. Roasted flavors are Caribbean Crunch or Salt and Pepper. www.ziggymarleyorganics.com
Navitas Naturals Kashmir Superfood - Certified organic, raw and shelled hemp seeds. www.navitasnaturals.com
Himalania Organic Hemp Seeds - These tasty treats come in toasted dusted with Himalayan pink salt, shelled or covered in dark chocolate. www.brainstorminc.comHippie Butter Organic Hulled Hemp Seeds - Non-GMO, non-irradiated, non-allergenic, THC-free, pesticide-free, gluten-free, Kosher and vegan-certified. www.hippiebutter.com
Nutiva Organic Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds - Cold-pressed and organically created. Simple, pure and delicious. www.nutiva.com