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Here's your guide to your new herb-enhanced diet.

Marijuana and food have a longstanding association — too often as the setup to some predictable Doritos joke. Today, the culinary-cannabis connection is a lot more sophisticated. Decriminalization efforts in states like Colorado and Washington have propped up a legitimate pot industry, peddling all kinds of strains under all sorts of interesting brand names, as well as gourmet ganja-infused goodies. So, we sought the expert opinion of a paid professional, the Denver Post‘s chief chronic critic Jake Browne, to help us navigate this hazy new world of THC-enhanced eating.

Smoking As An Ap-pot-tizer
The old-school approach of enjoying cannabis with regular consumables seems pretty cut and dry: Smoke up, then raid the pantry. Fat and salt will satisfy pretty much any craving you have, otherwise known as the munchies. “I recommend things you can dip,” says Browne, referencing a 2013 under-the-influence review that delved into deep thoughts on a bag of Fritos Scoops. “It’s a lot of fun and it gives you an extra interaction with the food.”

Of course, choosing something to eat after smoking is easy; picking the right kind of cannabis to pair with a particular dish takes a bit more thought. After five years of covering the bud business, Browne has some informed opinions on the subject. Look for something that has a discernible flavor, he says. And, keep in mind, in the pot world, names don’t lie.“There are a lot of strains out there out there that are pretty pronounced, and I try to avoid strains like Sour Diesel unless you like the taste of gasoline,” he says.

Pick complementary flavors of weed to pair with particular foods. Light up a citrus-filled strain like Agent Orange, for instance, to go with a fish dish, Browne says. Or, for garlic-based or spicy food, try one of the haze strains like Super Lemon Haze, which has both a tart lemon flavor and great buttery undertones. When it comes to dessert, the classic pairing of chocolate and peanut butter is king, no matter if you are stoned or not.“If they have been doing it at Grateful Dead shows for decades, trust in that,” says Browne, who suggests trying something from the Kush family, or the aptly named Chocolope, which smells like dark chocolate.

Portion Control
After New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s recent misadventures with edible treats in Denver, plenty of questions arose about the potency and safety of pot-laced foodstuffs. According to Browne, the smartest policy, oddly enough, is abstinence: “I try to avoid having pot brownies or cookies that are infused all-around,” he says. “You just sometimes forget and think you have the strength of 10 stoners. So, why not have two or three pot brownies?”

The answer can easily be seen in Dowd’s experience after ingesting the better part of a cannabis-laced candy bar she purchased from a legal dispensary in Colorado. As a novice pot user, she had no idea how much to eat, and it later came out that the candy bar was supposed to be sectioned into 16 pieces to be enjoyed one sliver at a time. The result of overeating her edible treat? Sadly, Dowd overindulged herself into a paranoid, anxiety-ridden trip.

Don’t be like Dowd: always ask about the proper serving size from the dispensary that sells whatever sort of baked good or candy you plan to indulge in. Often these goodies are made by creating a pot-infused butter or sugar mixture that gets substituted in all sorts of recipes. Just remember that edibles take effect much later and generally come on much stronger than merely smoking the herb.

For a more DIY approach, make your own weed-laced treats. But be sure to get the measurements right. Browne generally recommends using about one-eighth of an ounce of marijuana for each stick of butter. “Otherwise,” he says, “you’ll be eating an unfortunate number of brownies.” That presumes that you’re cooking with high-quality marijuana, of course. “If you’re using schwag — crappy, seedy, brick weed — double the ratio I listed above,” he adds.

Related: So You Want To Make Some Cannabutter?

The Deal With Drinking Marijuana
“Drinks have been around since 2010, when we saw the first iteration of Dixie [Elixirs],” says Browne, referring to a popular brand of pre-bottled THC-enhanced beverages. “However, people in India have been drinking Bhang for hundreds of years and tinctures are also pretty old in terms of cannabis consumption.” Still, this form of cannabis is less common than edibles or plain ol’ baggies of weed. Those pot leaf-labeled energy drinks you typically see on store shelves in non-decriminalized states often use hempseed to give it a kick. But drinking that stuff won’t get you high, just frustrated.

Some thirsty consumers make marijuana-infused tea. A quick Internet search turns up one such recipe, which involves boiling one-half of a gram of ground weed for 30 to 40 minutes with two tablespoons of butter — a component necessary to grab onto the THC, which isn’t soluble in water.

Browne, however, offers another idea: “If you’re thinking about making weed tea, just make weed vodka and add it to your tea.” The recipe is quite simple, he says: “stuff a bunch of marijuana in a bottle of vodka. Let it sit a while.”

Watch comedian Dan Soder discuss “budtenders” in this video interview:

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