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Cannabis Cocktails for Beginners

Humboldt leaf and lemon-aid



Now that Prop. 64 has begotten a recreational marketplace for marijuana, many are rolling their eyes at advertisements for cannabis-infused tea, chocolate and barbecue sauce. To many, these products are shiny new packages wrapped around the same old ritual of getting high.

But while legalization opens the gate for long overdue research on the medical efficacy of cannabis for addiction, pain and a host of chronic conditions and life-threatening diseases, Prop. 64 also grants more Californians the opportunity to experiment for themselves with the potential benefits of cannabis.

Two local women, Gillian Levy and Susan Cleverdon, have built a business on the need for a safe way to explore using cannabis for health and wellness. The pair opened Humboldt Apothecary in 2015, operating under the state's medical marijuana guidelines. Today, any Californian over 21 can purchase the company's herbal tinctures, choosing from formulas designed to help with insomnia, respiratory congestion, brain function, menstrual cramps, anxiety, depression and inflammation.

"We see cannabis as a super food or nutritional support, rather than a drug," explains Levy, stressing that the tinctures are formulated to promote optimal wellness.

When first considering adding cannabis to your personal medicine cabinet, Levy stresses the importance of understanding our endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate intestinal function, glucose metabolism and stress response. Even if you're a newbie, you may have heard of cannabinoids, the naturally occurring compounds found in cannabis sativa, which bind to endocannabinoid receptors in the brain. With its strong psychoactive abilities, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the best known cannabinoid. But it doesn't operate alone. In recent years, a proliferation of research has focused on cannabidiol or CBD, a potent compound that acts on the body without altering your headspace. In other words, no high. In concert with other healing herbs, CBD is the therapeutic backbone of most Humboldt Apothecary's tinctures, including Calm, a high CBD tincture specially formulated for stress.

"Our Calm formula is a really wonderful antidote to general anxiety. You can micro-dose with 5 or 10 drops and really feel the benefits. You're taking this for radiant and vibrant health and we really aim to deliver that," explains Levy. Each dropper of Calm tincture contains 6.3 mg of CBD and 2.1 mg THC. For the seasoned consumer, this is a micro-dose, to the say the least. But if you're new to cannabis, start slowly. The effects of too much THC can be extremely unpleasant and negate the anti-anxiety relief intended.

While medical research on using CBD as a treatment for epilepsy, cancer and multiple sclerosis are well documented, Levy stresses that she's not a doctor nor is cannabis a magic bullet for everyone. Rather she believes that for many people, "using CBD consistently will really help with overall stress response."

Whether there are cannabis-infused mints on pillows at local hotels and bottles of CBD-water at business meetings anytime soon, you've got the opportunity to explore whether cannabis can help you relax, breathe, sleep and live better. Tinctures are an extremely user-friendly option to slip into a number of culinary dishes.

Try a micro-dose in this refreshing Humboldt-made cocktail. The half-dropper of 'Calm' tincture in each cocktail provides only slightly more than 1 mg of THC per drink. This is a safe dose for nearly all adults to enjoy the many health benefits of cannabinoids, while relaxing over a tried and true libation.

If fresh bay leaves are available, they'll fortify the green profile of this cocktail. California bay leaves impart a medicinal flavor that is the perfect backdrop for the notes of passionflower, lemon balm, skullcap and cannabis in the tincture. Locals report picking abundant fresh leaves from Blue Lake to Alderpoint. Due to their bitter taste, bay leaves cannot directly ingested but are known for their anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory medicinal properties.

Humboldt Leaf + Lemon-Aid

Makes 4 cocktails


1 ½ lemons

4 dried California bay leaves

6 tablespoons superfine sugar

1 ½ cups water

½ cup vodka, preferably Dutch & Dewey

Club soda


Humboldt Apothecary's Calm CBD tincture


Heat the oven to 400 F. Quarter the lemons and place them in a small pan with bay leaves. Roast for 20 minutes until the lemons are soft and slightly browned. In a large Mason jar with a lid, combine the roasted lemons, bay leaves, sugar, water and vodka. Close lid tightly and shake the entire concoction well, dissolving the sugar. Allow it to cool and refrigerate until chilled.

Prepare 4 tumblers with ice. Strain the lemon mixture through a fine sieve into a glass measuring cup, retaining the roasted lemons. Pour ½ cup of lemon mixture into each tumbler. Top off with club soda and ½ dropper of Calm CBD tincture. Stir. Garnish with roasted lemon or, if you're keen, a small cannabis leaf. (The green gilding serves a dual purpose by safely labeling the cocktail as containing cannabis.) Nearly all CBD tinctures on the market still contain varying levels of THC so be careful. If you think getting too high is unpleasant, imagine the guilt of overdosing your neighbor.

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