The Commercial Appeal
Customers lick their chops for marijuana-fed pork
SNOHOMISH, Wash. — The white van with tinted windows pulled up to the driveway with its cargo - cardboard boxes full of marijuana. And the grunting customers eagerly awaited it.
The deal was going down for three hungry Berkshire pigs from a Washington state farm, and a German television crew was there to film it.
Part flavor experiment, part green recycling, part promotion and bolstered by the legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington state, pot excess has been fed to the hogs by their owners, pig farmer Jeremy Gross and Seattle butcher William von Schneidau, since earlier this year.
Gross and von Schneidau now sell their “pot pig” cuts at von Schneidau’s butcher shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market at a premium price — bacon is $17 a pound while chops go for $16.90 a pound.
“He’s like ‘let’s see what kind of flavor it gives it.’ So we ran it and it gave good flavor,” Gross said.
“It’s like anything else, what you feed them is what they’re going to taste like. It’s almost like a savory alfalfa fed cow or alfalfa fed pig.”
The meat, though, won’t get people high. It’s just a flavor infusion. “It tastes like the best pork chop you’ve ever had,” said Matt McAlman, who runs Top Shelf Organic, the dispensary that is providing the pot plant waste for the pigs to eat.
The idea has brought worldwide attention.
On a recent afternoon, Gross hosted a crew from a German science show while von Schneidau has already been interviewed dozens of times.
Asked if feeding marijuana affects the pigs, such as perhaps giving them munchies, Gross said can see no effect on the pigs.
Already all pigs do is sleep and eat, he said. on Obama’s comments. But he’s quick to add: “We would like to see that in writing.”
The federal government already has taken a similar approach toward users in states that have approved marijuana for medical use.
It doesn’t go after potsmoking cancer patients or grandmas with glaucoma. But it also has made clear that people growing, selling and distributing marijuana on a large scale are subject to prosecution for violating the Controlled Substances Act — even in states that have legalized medical use.
There’s a political calculus for the president, or any other politician, in all of this.
Younger people, who tend to vote more Democratic, are more supportive of legalizing marijuana, as are people in the West, where the libertarian streak runs strong.
Despite increasing public acceptance of marijuana overall, politicians know there are complications that could come with commercializing an addictive substance.
Opponents of pot are particularly worried that legalization will result in increased use by young people.
Sabet frames the conundrum for Obama: “Do you want to be the president that stops a popular cause, especially a cause that’s popular within your own party? Or do you want to be the president that enables youth drug use that will have ramifications down the road?”