Combining Smoke and Sushi


By Ashley Rodriguez

Photo courtesy of Dennis van Zuijlekom.

While business in Colorado is already booming after the legalization of marijuana, classes are now offered in Denver where participants can mix the art of sushi rolling with the craft of cannabis smoking.

For Colorado natives or visitors, taking a “Cooking with Cannabis” course at Green Labs can teach them how to roll both joints and sushi at the same time. Green Labs is an organization that provides a platform for cannabis startups in the marijuana industry to offer community events.

“Cooking with Cannabis” came to life when Mike Looney, one of the owners of Green Labs, thought that a marijuana related cooking class would be a successful way of bringing people together. According to Looney, the classes that were held so far certainly united people in the area. He says that the sushi and joint rolling programs are popular and are always pretty full.

The classes run for two hours and Green Labs provides all the necessary sushi materials, rolling papers, and wine. Customers are asked to bring their favorite flower strain with them. The sessions are also BYOC–or bring your own cannabis–and are held on private property. As such, attendees can decide what they’d like to do with their finished products. They can choose whether or not they want to enjoy the fruits of their labor immediately by indulging in a carefully crafted joint.

A professional sushi chef who goes by the name of Chef Crunchy provides sushi-rolling instruction for the lessons. Looney says the chef is ingenious in creating very interesting pairings of cannabis and organic wines. Each class puts forth a specifically styled rolling technique.

Since legalization in other states is a slow but forthcoming process, smoking marijuana can still be considered taboo in many areas. In Colorado, however, Looney claims that it is, “as taboo as drinking a beer in Manhattan. There’s very little resistance even among Denver conservatives. Everyone sees the benefits.”

Looney states that very few people present in Denver are against pot–and those who are will likely leave.

He also mentions how several studies show the medicinal benefits of marijuana.

“It is the only natural property that can kill cancer cells,” continues Looney. “There are incredible health benefits… it’s used pretty effectively in those settings. There’s always the fear of people becoming lazy, and if you overuse it, like anything, it will be unhealthy.”

Looney argues that marijuana is a lot better than the drugs coming out of pharmacies. He believes the widespread acceptance of marijuana as a medicinal substance is in the near future.

“Though it has a long history and a lot of things that are politically driven, I think it will be legalized in all 50 states. It’s a pretty benign substance compared to many other things,” he says.

While the sushi and joint rolling class is a relatively “light and fun” event, Green Labs offers other classes that give customers more of an intellectual outtake. Some teach patrons the dangers of growing marijuana with pesticides while others focus on more specific parts of the industry like organic cannabis. Customers have the choice of taking more academically driven courses or ones geared toward entertainment, which Looney says can make good date nights.

The sushi and joint rolling combination was the first in a series of the “Cooking with Cannabis” classes offered. Other options at Green Labs include “Coffee and Cannabis Pairing,” along with “Puff, Pass, & Paint.” The first sushi and joint rolling class was offered in late February of this year. Also in the works is a class that teaches customers how to pair marijuana strains with wine, according to Looney.

As a growing industry, there is much to learn about the legalization of marijuana and the substance itself.

“It’s not hard to find pot wherever you are–whether it’s New York City or somewhere else–and if you like it you’re going to enjoy it. In Colorado, it’s legal, so you can indulge in it properly, you can learn a lot about it,” says Looney.

For now the ”Cooking with Cannabis” curriculum is only offered in Denver. Time will tell whether similar programs will run in other states and cities in the future. As the registration site for the class claims, the Green Labs sushi and joint rolling instruction will help people apply skills they first learn rolling sushi to more practical activities for day-to-day life.