Conversations: Monica Lo | Varyer

Conversations: Monica Lo

An expert in all things related to delicious inebriation, Lisa Futterman shares a conversation with Monica Lo, the author and founder of Sous Weed, to find out the hows and whys around her creative DIY cannabinoid candy-making.

By grabbing Monica Lo’s exciting new book The Weed Gummies Cookbook, budding cannabis confectioners can learn recipes and techniques for creating tasty, unique, and effective weed treats to consume at home or gift to lucky friends. She blew our minds with snacky ideas—from her marijuana-infused boba balls (pop them into matcha milk and make kief bubble tea for your crowd) to elegant dark chocolate caramel turtles that look like they came from a fancy chocolatier.

(The following interview was edited slightly for length and clarity.)

Lisa Futterman In The Weed Gummies Cookbook, you pack a huge amount of expertise and advice into a very concise package. How did you learn your methods for infusing cannabis, creating tinctures, and making these incredible confections?

Monica Lo [After a back injury in 2015] I knew I needed to figure out how to safely make my own edibles. At the time, I was a creative director of a sous vide start-up and thought I’d put our machines to the test—and it worked!

Since the cannabis flower and cooking oil are sealed in an airtight bag and placed underwater to infuse, there’s no smell! I would use these infusions in a variety of sweet and savory dishes.

LF I love that you recommend practicing these recipes before adding cannabis infusions to prevent waste. What recipe(s) would you recommend most for a beginning confectioner?

ML I’ve designed this cookbook to be as user-friendly as possible in hopes of empowering readers to make their own cannabis edibles at home. That said, the book starts easy with the gummies chapter and gets a little more challenging in the soft caramels and hard candies chapters. Those chapters require a candy thermometer, proper equipment, and safety protocols! Sugar burns are pretty gnarly, and no one likes to waste cannabis on a burnt batch of candy!

I recommend trying the Sour Pink Lemonade Gummies, Snowflake Crisp Nougat, and the Gemstone Gummies. I’m also a sucker for soft caramels like the Salted Mocha Caramels.

LF Do you have any funny stories about recipe failures that happened along the way?

ML Recipe testing for the Hard & Brittle chapter was so challenging with my baby brain (I was pregnant at the time!) I had to throw out so many batches of lollipops because I had the attention span of a fly. I’d blink and the batch was burnt–practice and have patience, my friends!

LF I notice that you include both high-tech (sous vide, Ardent FX) and low-tech (oven, water bath) methods for creating your cannabis infusions. Do you have any recommendations for readers who would like to use a slow cooker or Instant Pot to do the job?

ML I personally haven’t had much experience using a slow cooker or Instant Pot to make my infusions, but there are lots of people who swear by it on the internet. I opted for the sous vide method because it’s discreet and I couldn’t have the smell of cannabis in my apartment. I also love the sous vide method for its gentle cooking temperatures–you will be able to preserve more terpenes and other minor phytocannabinoids for that full-spectrum experience.

LF In the book, you list the many reasons why DIY cannabis confections are the way to go, including cost-effectiveness, customization of dosage and strain, freedom from preservatives, and (my favorite) gifting for family and friends. Can you expand on what types of recipes and advice your readers and friends have asked for, and how your book has helped them?

ML Yes! So many reasons why DIY is the way to go. In 2021, cannabis edibles sales in medical and recreational states began to skyrocket as an impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We started to see consumers choosing edibles, specifically gummies and candies, over inhalable forms of consumption. On the flip side, as states began to legalize medically and recreationally, dispensary prices also began to rise due to taxes and operating costs. There are also state-mandated regulations on dosages and serving sizes, which can be challenging for patients who need more than what is on the shelves. Dispensary edibles also have to be shelf-stable for a few months to a year.

When you DIY, you can make your treats without the commercial preservatives and also customize the dosage to your body’s needs. It’s even more cost-effective if you grow your own plants!

In terms of the recipes in the book, I have designed them to be lower-dose for snackability. There’s nothing more obnoxious to me than having to cut up an already tiny gummy because it is too potent. That said, if you’d like a stronger sweet treat, you can use more cannabis flower in the infusion, or a more potent strain.

I also wanted to be true to my Asian American flavors, which is what my readership follows me for. While there are classic candies and treats in the book, I also have flavors inspired by my upbringing as a Taiwanese American Texan.

LF Tell us what drove your choice of @lastprisonerproject as the recipient of a portion of the book’s proceeds. How does supporting drug policy reform and criminal justice reform fit into your ethos?

ML It’s so important for us to understand the history of cannabis—not just the origins, but also how communities of color in the US have been disproportionately harmed by the failed War on Drugs. The groundwork of the cannabis industry here in America has been laid out by the Black and Brown communities. And to this day there are still too many people incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis offenses. I hope to help right these wrongs by donating a portion of the profits of The Weed Gummies Cookbook semiannually to The Last Prisoner Project.

My book also offers educational resources on childproofing, safety labeling, as well as encouraging readers to shop responsibly and support BIPOC cannabis brands and organizations.