We are in Patti ‘s kitchen making pot brownies. I’m not allowed to say where it is, except in an apartment in Orange County. I’m not allowed to say what her last name is. I’m not even allowed to say exactly how she makes her brownies. (“I’m not giving you my ****ing secrets,” she growls, dragging on a cigarette.)
Strangely, though, I am allowed to give you her Web site, paticakes.com , which strangely is spelled with one “t” whereas her first name is spelled with two, and I daren’t ask her why because she’s in one of those moods. (“Well, you’re writing too ****ing slow,” she says when I tell her she’s talking too fast.) I can assure you, however, Patti is a real person I’ve known for several years and really does make awesome baked goodies, although I can assure you I’ve never tried any infused with cannabis.
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Anyway, we’re in her kitchen with our mutual friend, Barbara Venezia , who has shot a video of this whole thing. Patti has done catering over the years, but seems to have really found her passion with the advent of liberalized marijuana laws. Patti has a doctor’s note that allows her to make pot brownies, cookies and her premium Sunshine, or “health” bars, and “share” or “donate” them to cannabis collectives, which “donate” back her costs to her.
Two things make Patti’s pot goods great, she says: One: The quality of the non-cannabis ingredients. “I use top-shelf chocolate and I make everything from scratch. A lot of the dispensaries use mixes … the Rice Krispies treats. … I’m not into that. I want to be the Mrs. Fields of cannabis.” Two: the quality of the cannabis. It’s potent. “When I say take two (bites), I mean two (bites). The first person I gave one to ate the whole thing and he couldn’t function for two days.”
In the old days , pot brownie bakers would fold ground-up cannabis into the batter. No more. Patti proffers a plastic bowl containing what looks like pesto sauce. “Cannabis butter,” she says. “Everyone uses it now – unless you’re stupid.” It takes Patti 10 hours to make her cannabis butter, repeatedly heating and cooling the blend of regular butter and finely ground marijuana cuttings, a laborious process she believes best draws out THC, the active ingredient in pot.
Patti poured the cannabis butter into a mixing bowl with the chocolate batter, stirred furiously, poured it into a baking pan and popped it in the oven. Then we went out onto her lushly landscaped patio to talk and smoke – me an Arturo Fuente , her a Marlboro Ultra Light. She doesn’t smoke pot. “Smoking is a head trip – eating is a body trip,” says Patti, who uses pot to calm her nerves. “I bounce off walls (without it). For me it’s truly calming.”
I snip the end of my cigar with a pair of pruning clippers I find on her patio table and point to a squat green plant with serrated leaves. “So you grow it out here?” I ask.
“That’s a weed!” she snorts. “You don’t know what (pot) looks like?” I guess not.
She doesn’t grow pot. “The cat would eat it,” she says, pointing to her beloved Siamese. She buys two strains: sativa, “an ‘up’ – you can function well on that” – and indicia – “that, you veg out in front of the TV for a day.”
“I would never say I’m a stoner or a pot head. I medicate myself before I go to bed. Otherwise I’d never get to sleep.
Why’d you start this? I ask.
She says she grew up in an East Coast Italian family “where everyone had a restaurant or a bakery.” She’s always cooked and baked. And, since the ’70s, medicated herself with pot.
Now, she’s seized the business opportunity and is as enthused as I’ve ever seen her about anything. She follows the legal and political battles. She’s aligned with local growers and distributors – who more and more are driving to patients to get around city crackdowns on dispensaries. She bonds with her customers, many of them middle-age women like her. One suffering from shingles called her crying one day – crying out of gratitude.
“This is my fight,” Patti says. “It’s something I’ve believed in for years and years.”
All too soon my cigar is gone and we can smell another aromatic delight emanating from the kitchen.