Ed’s note: This story published Dec. 23, 2011 in the Sacramento Bee’s medical marijuana advertising section.

BY ED MURRIETA

In this season of fresh-baked Christmas cookies, the creation story of
Uncle Buck’s new line of medical cannabis edibles — hand-scooped raw
cookie dough that can be purchased at medical cannabis dispensaries
and baked at home — has the ring of holiday renewal.

Founded two years ago this February, Uncle Buck’s is a
Sacramento-based maker of medical cannabis edibles — cookies and
crispy treats — that stand out for their quality and
laboratory-tested potency.

Uncle Buck’s founder, Steven Lee, said he ceased operations for three
months earlier this year — not because of any pressure from the
federal government or any local governments that is causing
dispensaries up and down the state to close but because the commercial
kitchen from which he had leased space suffered its own business
difficulties.

Lee said he recently found a new commercial kitchen to work in, but
since this kitchen is certified only as a prep kitchen — there is no
convection oven — Lee was forced to make a change: Instead of selling
baked cookies, Uncle Buck’s now makes and distributes raw cookie
dough. Uncle Buck’s crispy treats (fruity and peanut butter flavored)
are still in production as they don’t require baking.

Uncle Buck’s raw cookie dough was released to Sacramento dispensaries
this month and is available at River City Phoenix (1508 East El Camino
Ave.), Grass (2014 10th St. and 4381 Gateway Park Blvd. Suite #560,)
and All About Wellness (1900 19th St.). Available in three varieties
– chocolate chip ($7), double chocolate chip ($10) and double peanut
butter chip ($10) — each package contains four 1-ounce knobs of
hand-scooped raw cookie dough.

Packages are sold frozen, sealed in air-tight mylar bags. As Uncle
Buck’s very informative labeling information notes, the raw dough
stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and stores in the
freezer for up to three months.

Compared to many other medical cannabis edibles sold at dispensaries,
Uncle Buck’s products are a cut above. Not only are they
professionally packaged and informatively labeled but the cookies look
and taste good — on par with some supermarket and bakery product
lines, unlike some raggedy “alternative” products that pass for
edibles at many dispensaries.

For a hand-scooped product, Uncle Buck’s raw cookie dough is uniform
and consistent. I sampled three packages and all 12 cookies looked and
weighed the same.

They’re easy to bake: Thawed to room temperature, the knobs of raw
dough bake in about 10 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Each cookie is
good for at least two bites — so with these cookies you don’t get the
usual edibles warning about eating half and saving the rest for later,
as if anyone eats only a portion of any cookie.

The tops of the peanut butter cookies are scored in a cross-hatch
pattern, inviting and allowing the cookies to develop a surface of
ridges and plateaus as they bake, giving the finished cookies extra
crunch and depth. The chocolate chips cookies are studded with
semi-sweet goodness. The cookies are chewy, crunchy, buttery and only
slightly cannabissy — exactly what you want in a good medical
cannabis edible.

Lee said he uses Hershey’s brand chocolate and peanut butter chips and
Adam’s all-natural brand peanut butter. The butter that serves as the
base for his canna-butter is purchased at Sam’s Club.

As for potency, certified by Steep Hill Analytics Laboratory of
Oakland, each package of the double chocolate chip and double peanut
butter cookie dough contains 100 mg of THC, or 25 mg of THC per
cookie. That’s between 2 and 4 doses per package, depending on your
tolerance for edibles.

Uncle Buck’s regular chocolate chip cookie dough is a cookie of a
different cannabinoid: CBD, or cannabidiol. Instead of THC
(tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is the star cannabinoid in these chocolate
chip cookies. Whereas THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid that in
higher concentrations can make your mind and pulse race, CBD produces
a milder, more relaxing effect. Uncle Buck’s high-THC cookies are more
likely to help you sleep or be creative, while Uncle Buck’s high-CBD
cookies are more likely to relieve pain and swelling while you remain
wide awake and focused.

Uncle Buck’s high-CBD cookies are made from Harlequin, a sativa strain
popular for its rich CBD and low THC content. The high-THC cookies
contain a blend of cannabis strains. All of the cannabis in Uncle
Buck’s cookies is concentrated into the butter that goes into each
recipe. Lee said he uses both bud and leaf in his cannabis butter, as
cannabis leaf contains significant amounts of CBD.

Since CBD acts in balance with THC, helping moderate THC’s sometimes
unpleasant effects — Feeling over-cannabinated? Try a little CBD. –
Lee selects cannabis strains that contain some CBD for use in his
double chocolate chip and double peanut butter cookies. Each of those
cookies contain 3 mg of CBD per package, or about .75 mg per cookie.
Uncle Buck’s high-CBD cookies, meanwhile, contain 30 mg of CBD and 23
mg of THC per package, or 7.5 mg CBD and 5.75 mg THC per cookie.

In addition to being laboratory-tested for potency, each batch of
Uncle Buck’s raw cookie dough is tested for mold and bacteria,
including E. coli.

Testing for E. coli is a big distinction. A recent Federal Drug
Administration investigation into a 2009 E. coli outbreak linked to
Nestle’s raw cookie dough sold in supermarkets nationwide indicated
that raw flour and not raw eggs was the E. coli culprit.

If you’re one of those people who buy raw cookie dough with no
intention of baking cookies, you’re not alone. The investigation of
the 2009 E. coli cases found that a number of people bought raw cookie
dough intending to eat raw cookie dough.

Uncle Buck’s cookie dough contains no eggs — vegetable oil is used to
give the cookies structure and mouthfeel.

“Although this product has no eggs, baking the cookie product is
optimal for safety,” Lee said.