The Emerald Supper Club Brings Food and Debate to the Cannabis Conversation

A summer beet salad led the way for an evening of food and conversation.
A summer beet salad led the way for an evening of food and conversation. Photo by 126 Photography
The sun dipped below the horizon bringing the temperature down to a typical Houston night of ninety something degrees. Guests laughed as they moved into a gallery in east downtown, while Chef Keisha Griggs moved among the patrons, stopping to check a table setting while directing a waiter and filling a guest in on the night to come.

“This is special,” she said.  “No one in the city is doing anything like this and the truth is it’s long overdue. Texas is behind and we need to catch up.”

What Griggs believes the Lone Star state needs to catch up on is the legalization of marijuana. To help promote it she’s aligned with the cannabis advocacy group Gas Gods to create the Emerald Supper Club, an evening of food and libation dedicated to spreading awareness through the culinary arts. The result was a Moroccan inspired five course dinner featuring dishes like a summer beet salad with fried avocado, lentil soup, red snapper accompanied with a smoked gouda couscous, a spiced tangerine granita, lamb tagine, and more.
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The evening was hosted by Kam Franklin, seen here with Chef Griggs.
Photo by 126 Photography
While recreational cannabis use is still illegal in Texas, it is allowed for some medical conditions. The possession of up to four ounces is a misdemeanor. The proliferation of strains of Delta 8 and 9 throughout the city has led to a cultural shift in how the drug is perceived here.

As the rest of the country creates a patchwork of laws either for or against the drug the movement toward the future leaves a lot of the propaganda (think Refer Madness) in the past. The dinner was hosted by activist and lead singer of The Suffers, Kam Franklin who, due to her touring schedule could speak personally about the differences in enforcement that the United States has created with cannabis legalization.

“I was just in New York walking around and it's legal,” the singer said as the guests paused between courses. “I come back down here and forget sometimes. It's a crazy situation. Cops will just remind me I’m in Houston and I’ll put it up. The crazy thing is there are people sitting in jail right now for this. People that have been taken away from us for something that can drastically affect your life depending on the state you’re in.”

The guest list for the dinner was varied, with local businesspeople, artists, parents taking the night off, and even Slim Thug, but you still had to be in the know to get an invite. For Jennifer Gonzales, the night was a pleasant surprise that was worthwhile after finding out how to get in.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Gonzales. “I saw it posted on Kam’s Instagram and followed that to the chef. Her food looked incredible, but I still didn’t know exactly how to even go. From there I followed the Gas God’s page and sent them a DM as a shot in the dark. Luckily, they still had two spots left.”
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Slim Thug comes out to support Chef Griggs.
Photo by 126 Photography
“I hear people say they want legalization, but I usually say no,” said one man who gave his name only as Ed.  “Do you have a problem getting weed? No. So, what do you want it legal for? I come from a place where it was made legal, and I didn’t see the benefit for a lot of people. Every time legalization comes up there is talk about an equity piece. An equity piece that is forgotten once people start making money. I’m only for legalization when the people that have been harmed are given space and opportunity to make money in this industry.”

To many the fate of the marijuana industry is all but sealed. Given the hodgepodge nature of legalization throughout the country it’s not a matter of if it will be legalized at a national level but more a matter of when, they believe.

Dinners like the Emerald Supper Club show raise the questions that need to be addressed beyond legalization while still giving guests a leisurely atmosphere. The dinner is the beginning of a series so expect more to come from Griggs and Gas Gods.  When legalization arrives in Texas hopefully it will be with the conversations that are sparked at events like the Emerald Supper Club.
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Houston Press contributor DeVaughn Douglas is a freelance writer, blogger, and podcaster. He is 1/2 of the In My Humble Opinion Podcast and 1/1 of the Sleep and Procrastination Society. (That last one isn't a podcast; he just procrastinates and sleeps a lot.)