How Brownie Mary, Alice B Toklas, and Weed Brownies Changed the World 

By  Cheri Sicard

People may laugh whenever pot brownies are mentioned in coversation.  However, but this particular humble little edible has had a profound influence on both history and pop culture.  Thanks in no small part to two trailblazing women,  Brownie Mary (AKA Mary Jane Rathbun) and Alice B Toklas.

Brownie Mary: Changing the World Through Baked Goods

Brownie Mary, Mary Jane Rathbun

Mary Jane Rathbun, AKA Brownie Mary

Long before California legalized marijuana for medical use in 1996, the late great Mary Jane Rathbun, AKA Brownie Mary,  was known for distributing medicated brownies to AIDS patients in San Francisco.  Mary Jane felt passionate about the cause of helping "her children" any way she could.  As the effects of her cannabis brownies could bring instant relief to her patients, she was fierce in her defense of it. 

It could be argued that were it not for America's over zealous prosecution of the war on drugs, Brownie Mary would have gone down in history as a nice lady who cared for dying AIDS patients.  The War on Drugs had other ideas, however, and today Brownie Mary is known even more for changing the course of history concerning medical marijuana legalization and the world's acceptance of it. 

The act of delivering weed brownies to AIDS patient got Mary Jane Rathbun arrested three times.  The joke was on the prosecutors because Mary Jane’s grandmotherly appearance inspired public sympathy.  Each arrest brought more publicity and positive attention to the cause of medical marijuana.  It also shined a spotlight on just how stupid the war on medicaal cannabis is.

In addition to her baking talents, Brownie Mary lobbied for California’s first medical marijuana laws along with fellow activist Dennis Peron, first at a local level in San Francisco and later helping to pass Proposition 215 that made California the first state to legalize medical marijuana.

A fearless medical marijuana advocate and activist, Brownie Mary was also involved in establishing the country’s first medical marijuana dispensary, The San Francisco Buyers Club.

Mary Jane Rathbun passed away in 1999, but her influence and name lives on with California’s Brownie Mary Democratic Club, the first political party affiliated cannabis club. Conceived by registered nurse (and Cannabis Cheri contributor) Lanny Swerdlow and modeled after the “Stonewall Democrats,” a gay rights club, Brownie Mary Club chapters directly lobby legislators in order to provide an alternative voice to the heavily funded, law enforcement backed, opposition to cannabis legalization.

Alice B Toklas Brownies Were Not Really Brownies At All

Alice B Toklas, lifelong partner of literary giant Gertrude Stein, will always be remembered in the public consciousness for her marijuana brownies and to some degree for bring marijuana edibles into mainstream awareness.  

So popular is the reference that Alice B Toklas Brownies have become a synonym for cannabis brownies in general.  But the weird thing about it is, Alice B Toklas never actually made marijuana brownies!

It is doubtful that she even really ever made the medicated recipe for "Hashich Fudge" in her cookbook.  How even that recipe became known as a marijuana brownie is anyone’s guess, but pop culture had a big part in carrying on the misnomer (see below).

Alice's Haschich Fudge, the recipe that made her cookbook notorious, bears little resemblance to a brownie.  Or to fudge as we typically know it for that matter.  The Toklas recipe is an amalgamation of pulverized marijuana buds mixed with dried fruits and spices. Alice B Toklas's notorious marijuana recipe, is actually a variation on an ancient edible known as Majoon.

Since there is no baking involved, it’s questionable how high any of Paris’s literary and artistic elite would have gotten off the non-decarboxylated cannabis in the "fudge." Nonetheless the legend of the Alice B Toklas as a marijuana edibles icon lives on and the recipe inspired some pop culture references that cemented Pot Brownies as the public's edible of choice for decades.  At least until the era of Cannabis Gummies recently took over.

Screen Shots: Weed Brownies in the Movies

Many people today have never even heard of the 1968 Peter Sellers movie I Love You Alice B Toklas, but this film more than any other put the misnomer of Alice B Toklas brownies into popular culture.  What is most surprising it that it has stuck after all these decades.

Peter Sellers' uptight lawyer character transforms after falling in love with a free spirited hippie played by Leigh Taylor Young in this light hearted comedy.  Marijuana brownies are an important supporting character in the script as they serve as the catalyst for Sellers' transformation.

Marijuana infused brownie

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  • I think we should start a club called “The Razen Blazen Republican Club”. If the dems can have one why can’t the Republicans?

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