Last year, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge told Bloomberg TV that she had plans to release her own line of fine wines. This is hardly noteworthy: I don't think it is legal for a celebrity to be above the age of fifty without having their own line of wines or spirits.
What is noteworthy about Etheridge, however, is that the wine she is promoting is infused with marijuana.
"Cannabis and wine have both been around for thousands of years," Etheridge told Munchies/VICE in January before giving staffers at the magazine a taste of the cannabis-infused wine.
Hold on a second. Thousands of years?
According to Carl Ruck, professor of classics at Boston University, humans have indeed been putting marijuana and other psychoactive substances into their wine since they began making it thousands of years ago:
Ancient wines were always fortified, like the 'strong wine' of the Old Testament, with herbal additives: opium, datura, belladonna, mandrake and henbane.
Common incenses, such as myrrh, ambergris and frankincense are psychotropic; the easy availability and long tradition of cannabis use would have seen it included in the mixtures.
Ruck is also apparently convinced that Jesus used cannabis, not just through drinking cannabis-infused wine, but also through the use of cannabis-infused oils, which he used to anoint people with.
What surprises us most about cannabis wine however is not its historical origins, but the fact that modern winemakers in California and other places where marijuana is readily available have apparently been making the stuff for private use since the 1980s.
As marijuana becomes more legal in North America, some of these winemakers have now begun coming out of the woodwork. One such winemaker is Lisa Molyneux, the California winemaker behind Etheridge's weed-infused wines.
VICE's David Bienenstock writes that Molyneux's wine, which is made by mixing juice from a biodynamic vineyard in a cask with roughly a pound of marijuana, benefits from a "cold extraction" process which results in the transfer of mellower, less psychoactive 'acidic' cannabinoids (the psychoactive compounds in marijuana).
“Our wine offers the many benefits of cannabinoids, without all the euphoria,” says Molyneux, who claims that people often end up drinking less cannabis wine than they do normal wine.
This contradicts CBS News' recent claims that marijuana-infused wine "may be dangerous together because the additive marijuana will likely allow people to consume more alcohol than they normally would."
We haven't tried Molyneux's cannabis wine to corroborate her claims, but if she is right, marijuana-infused wine might actually become a way for people to enjoy wine without waking up with a splitting headache and a hangover.
Etheridge and Molyneux's wine isn't available for sale yet, but if you want to make your own, the process is fairly simple. Because marijuana use is still illegal in Canada, we will abstain from preprinting instructions for making marijuana wine in Pilcrow.
What we will say is that you should not drop one pound of cannabis into a standard cask of fermenting wine (not Syrah, Grenache, or Marsanne, which are known to work well with cannabis), and you should not let it sit for at least six months until it is ready to drink. Because then you would have cannabis-infused wine, which again is illegal in Canada, and which we are not recommending you make. ♦
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