by Faye Sakellaridis
The worlds of wine and weed enthusiasts alike is abuzz with talk of cannabis-infused wine. The union of two individually popular mind-altering substances seems like a no-brainer when it comes to the search for a good high, but fascination over the hybrid brew extends beyond just that. Advocates argue that cannabis and wine come together to produce potent healing effects. Given the ways weed-wine was used in ancient times, there must be something transcendent about this holy alliance of THC and fermented grapes.
As reported by the online wine magazine VinePair's Kathleen Willcox, whose comprehensive blog on the history and modern culture of cannabis wine is a wildly informative must-read, records show that weed-wine was used as form of anesthesia as well as a sacred substance used in religious practices.
Records of the marijuana plant being utilized for medicinal purposes date back to the 28th century B.C. In China during the second century A.D., archeologists found records showing that the founder of Chinese surgery, Hua T’o, used wine fortified with cannabis resin to reduce pain during surgery.
Religious initiates of various stripes also drank psychoactive wine as part of their practice. Participants in the Eleusinian Mysteries (initiations held yearly for the cult of Demeter and Persephone in ancient Greece) and early Christians (including, allegedly, Jesus Christ) are two of the most noted groups of cannabis-wine enthusiasts, but far from the only ones, according to Carl Ruck, a professor of classical studies at Boston University. He coined the use of the term “entheogen” when discussing the use of psychoactive substances during sacraments to free the topic “from the pejorative connotations for words like drug or hallucinogen.”
In modern times, both cannabis and wine are separately recognized as recreational substances with medicinal value. Medicinal marijuana is only growing in prominence, used as both a therapeutic tool and pain reliever, since changes in legislation have lifted the taboo, and wine used in moderation is believed to have health benefits for the mind and body.
It comes as little surprise, then, that a number of wine and marijuana entrepreneurs have taken up the task of cultivating unique weed-wine concoctions, including the country singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge:
Getting the benefits of cannabis from edibles and tinctures are popular alternatives to just smoking the stuff, but Ms. Molyneux’s disdain for the taste and effects of grain alcohol prompted her to try to get her wine tincture on the market, especially when Melissa Etheridge got ahold of her brew and approached her about turning it into the first commercial cannabis-wine available in the U.S.
The Grammy-award-winning singer-songwriter is eagerly embracing her role as a “ganjapreneur” and it’s hard to think of a better place on earth than California to launch another wine revolution. California wines are known for their robust, daring flavors and vertiginously high alcohol content (consumers are demanding fuller-bodied flavors from wines, so producers are leaving grapes on the vine for longer to ripen, which ends up imparting more flavor but also packing more alcohol) and California culture is known for it’s paradoxically assertive and laid-back approach to launching and then dominating new, upstart markets and ideas. And winemakers in Northern California have allegedly been making it for decades – it was probably just a matter of time before someone canny capitalized on the opportunity.
“I am a wine-lover and I truly believe that a glass of wine a day can be medicinal too,” she explains. “The problem is, few people stop at one, so the health benefits kind of fly out the window when you’re downing three or four glasses a night. Once I got clearance from my legal team and was able to sell a wine tincture at Greenway, I heard from a lot of wine-loving customers that two ounces of the tincture was all they needed to get the relaxing effects of wine. Ironically, my wine tincture is probably helping people drink and smoke less!”
Read the full article over at VinePair to learn more about the past and present of marijuana-infused wine (especially if you are an aspiring cannabis wine-maker looking for how to get started!)