I recently got hired to teach a marijuana cooking demo in the Slocan Valley for a small but mighty conference. This valley is host to some of the world’s most famous “B.C. Weed” strains dating back to the war in Vietnam. Advocates designed this conference to educate long-existing marijuana farmers, vendors, and its tertiary players on the new rules and regulations set out by “legalization.” The event explores how our long-standing cannabis communities might respond to these new regulations.

As it turns out, many concerned citizens showed up in desperate search of ways to keep their traditional economy afloat while the government appropriates our once-thriving businesses for towering corporate interests and prohibitionist turncoats in Canada.

Towns all over the province of B.C., once robust with small mom and pop ventures, are wondering how to keep their downtown cores alive without the support of the only industry, albeit illegal, that ever supported their existence all year round.

Most small-town players in these communities simply cannot participate in the new regime due to exorbitant licensing costs and overbearing regulations. It’s legal now, but we are still hiding out in the shadows. Why?

Read also: BC Bud: From Guerilla Gardens to Potent Strains

Estimates that marijuana was once worth $8 billion in revenue to the province of B.C. alone meant thousands of small farmers scattered over millions of acres who provided revenue and decent jobs to hundreds of communities. Confusingly, the government uses new corporate backers capable of annihilating and replacing already existing marijuana farmers and the communities that grew up around them. How can outsiders be good for our local economies? Why can only big business grow cannabis in Canada? It’s just a green leafy plant. A plant that was instrumental in nourishing local infrastructure. It seems to me that only locals can deem what is relevant — not investors and their bottom line.

I am reminded of the 1984 movie Footloose, starring Kevin Bacon, where a small town bans dancing and rock n’ roll music to help curb any immoral urges affecting the youth who live there. Ken McCormack (Kevin Bacon) moves from Chicago to a small western town only to discover his love of dancing is not permitted there.

Throughout the movie, small rebellions by a group of insubordinate teenagers overturn the matter and in due course the ban on dancing finally gets lifted. The feel-good flick ends triumphantly when the kids are granted a prom with nothing but good old rock n’ roll to dance to.

Imagine if the movie ended another way. The town decides to lift the ban on dancing but puts so many rules, tariffs, and regulations in place that all those who love to dance, who’ve been dancing regardless of its prohibition, are the only ones not able to dance anymore. The town allows only those folks with two left feet and a penchant for moralizing to sell dance shoes or teach and host dance parties. Who would want to go to their dance parties? Who would want to see this Kafkaesque movie?

Read also: Baking a Fool of Myself: Un-Intoxicated

Why legalize cannabis (or dancing) without trying to accommodate all those who already love it, grow it, sell it, and champion for its emancipation? For decades, small local operations cultivated community and wealth with cannabis, so to not be able to participate in its newly exonerated position is a movie that won’t end well.

Folks who always recognize the importance of learning, crafting, and cultivating the plant as a labor of love and a source of income for their families are left out and wiped out by the federal controls.

Let’s come out of the shadows and strap our dancing shoes back on.

The conference encouraged attendees to stop being so secretive (for good reasons) about their craft after years of stigmatization and the threat of incarceration. Let’s begin again by talking to our neighbors and friends, sharing our techniques, strains, and formidable knowledge of this glorious plant. Let’s change the end of this movie.

A better movie would be called May the Best Man Win like in so many other of our thriving competitive industries likes wine, mushroom picking, or hockey. Whoever makes the best wine, pieces together the best hockey team, or forages the nicest wild mushrooms gets to win. Why not make it a competition about best quality or most effective branding? Why make it about big money?

A fairer approach would be to offer municipally funded testing facilities, where the wet or dried plant could be assessed for quality assurance and then processed accordingly or denied market access. Hold farmers markets where the product gets sold fresh to its thrifty connoisseurs, allowing them to dry, cure, and manicure it themselves to keep the cost down. Mushroom pickers take their bounty to a local buying station and get paid according to each fungus’s estimated value of the day.

Fruit growers can take their under-rated crops to a large facility in the Okanagan to be turned into cider if deemed fit or make their own cider and have it spot tested by local authorities before going to market. Hockey teams assemble their players according to their own values and strategic needs. Cannabis is not much different after you get over the propaganda of yesterday.

I say ‘egg on the face’ of any democratic governments who want to turn their citizens back into serfs, but I want you, my “small group of thoughtful committed citizens,” to turn your eggs into a delicately delicious Ganja Goddess Pavlova for yourself, for your friends, your neighbors, and your communities.

See you on the dance floor!

Read also: Baking A Fool Of Myself: Three Steps to Making Edibles


Recipe: Ganja Goddess Pavlova

These are micro-dosed pavlovas. I use only 2 tsp (approx. 2 grams) toasted shake flour folded into the meringue to make it sparkle with little green specks of our favorite herb and a light dusting of shake flour to garnish the finished masterpiece.

PREP TIME: 30 minutes

COOK TIME: 30 minutes

SERVINGS: 12

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

  • Mixer
  • Mixing bowl
  • Water glass
  • Marker/grease pencil
  • Parchment paper
  • Cookie sheet

INGREDIENTS

Pavlovas

  • 5 large egg whites (separated, at room temperature)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp toasted shake flour (approx. 2 grams)


Topping

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 4 kiwis
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Sprigs of fresh mint.
  • 4 tbsp white sugar
  • Shake flour (in a salt shaker for garnish)


INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300°F.
  2. On a sheet of parchment paper, trace 12 circles with a water glass. (then flip sheet over so markings don’t get on your meringue!)
  3. Beat egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in mixer until the whites become foamy.
  4. With mixer running, gradually add 1 tbsp. of sugar at a time until your meringue develops stiff, glossy peaks and all sugar has dissolved.
  5. Remove bowl from mixer. Gently fold in vanilla, vinegar, corn starch, and toasted shake flour. (Just enough to incorporate the ingredients but not enough to deflate your eggs.)
  6. Evenly dollop a spoonful into each circle drawn on the back of the parchment paper creating rounded domes. Press a small crater into the top of each. (To form a small bowl for the whip cream and toppings to come.)
  7. Bake Pavlovas for 30 minutes at 300°F.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  9. Whip the cream, slowly adding sugar one tbsp. at a time until desired thickness is reached.
  10. Top cooled pavlovas with whipped cream, sliced kiwis, lime zest, mint leaves, and a light dusting of shake flour.