Thanksgiving is a week of gratitude, and that’s why we should all bow down to 2019 as the year we all figured out that cooking with weed isn’t actually that difficult. If only baby stoner Carly had known this back in the day, she would have never reeked up her college apartment or gone down poorly-dosed weed-tweaker k-holes! But carpe diem, ya know? 

Infusing doesn’t require much more than a mason jar, cheese cloth, pot of water, some fat content and a decent eighth to get the job done. But let’s face it: Shoving it into a set-it-and-forget-it device is just so much easier. Plus, there are a billion products now on the market to help you do it. Bless! 

Decarboxylator devices are generally beneficial for a few reasons. First, it eliminates the problem of making your home reek of weed — helpful for those who live in apartments, co-habitate with judgy roommates, or just do not appreciate the certain je ne sais quoi de beuh (fun fact: beuh is slang for weed in France, yo!). Most importantly, these tools are designed for stoned people, which means they’re stupidly easy to use and an effective way to get the job done without burning your product.  One button, one job? Sign me up!


That said, if you’re a fairweather toker or a newbie to edibles, it’s best to start small and that’s why this week’s column comes from Shanel Lindsay, founder and CEO of Ardent, the Boston-based company behind the NOVA Decarboxylator and Infuser. Beyond being a bad ass independent entrepreneur, Lindsay is a true cannabis activist who is shaping the future for Massachusetts. 

“My cannabis experience began almost 20 years ago after I developed an ovarian cyst that required properly prepared and dosed plant medicine,” she told MERRY JANE. “I started my cannabis journey as a patient and in 2012, I became involved in the politics of cannabis. I began pursuing my business, Ardent, in 2015, and helped draft the state of Massachusetts’ adult use cannabis law. In 2017, I was appointed by the State Treasurer to the Massachusetts Cannabis Advisory Board, where I help to develop regulations for the medical and adult use markets — and I was recently sworn in for my second term!”

Can you believe that some people still think that using cannabis makes you lazy? Given her interest in the holistic benefits of the plant and tenacious drive, it shouldn’t come as a shocker that she’s healthy AF — and so is her recipe: nutty hemp energy balls packed with protein and nutrients best paired with a solid, uplifting sativa or an energy-boosting CBD. Read on to get her recipe and learn more about how she transformed her medical marijuana usage into a full-fledged business.


Nutty Hemp Energy Balls

Stock up on these healthy and portable energy balls, loaded with protein and superfoods to power you through the day. Feel free to substitute ingredients, but keep the liquid/dry ratio the same so they hold their shape. You might consider adding maca root, coconut flakes, matcha, etc. These keep in the freezer for up to a month.

Difficulty: Easy

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes


1 Nova Decarboxylator

1 large bowl and 1 smaller bowl

1 rubber spatula

1 parchment lined tray


1 cup almond flour

¼ cup hemp hearts

¼ cup ground flaxseed

2 tablespoons cacao powder

2 tablespoons chia seeds

½ cup almond butter 

3 tablespoons Maple syrup or raw honey

2 tablespoons coconut oil

½ gram cannabis**

Makes 12 bliss balls, 2 inches in diameter


Add desired amount of flower to your Nova decarb for one cycle. Once decarbed, remove from the Nova and grind well. (See here for a guide on how to use it). Add your ground decarbed flower, almond flour, hemp hearts, flaxseed, cacao powder, and chia seeds to a large bowl and mix.

In another bowl, add nut butter, coconut oil, and maple syrup. Mix well. Add the liquid to the dries and incorporate using a rubber spatula until the mix is sticky and uniform, resembling cookie dough. If it’s on the dry side, you can add more maple syrup one half teaspoon at a time. 

Next, divide and round the dough into 12 balls approximately 2 inches in diameter. You can also make more smaller balls for a lighter snack. You can coat each one in any toppings you like: hemp hearts, toasted coconut flakes, sesame seeds, matcha powder, cacao powder. Simply roll each ball around in a shallow plate loaded with the toppings of your choice.

After coating, place each ball on a small, parchment-lined tray and set in the freezer for 30 minutes to set up. You can then place them in a plastic storage bag and keep them in the freezer for a month. These grab-and-go snacks are great after defrosting for a few minutes at room temperature. 


MERRY JANE: First of all, you might be the most go-getter cannabis user on the planet. So, congratulations on that! Launching your own device, getting into state politics, and doing it all with this beautiful plant — how did you get started on this crazy journey?

Shanel Lindsay: I started cooking with cannabis after my son was born in 2001 for medical reasons and to help manage my chronic pain. The goal was to achieve the best taste possible and incorporate into daily life, but I soon discovered that activating cannabis as an accurate medicine was almost impossible. I was only getting subpar results and constantly eating ingredients I didn’t really enjoy. Because of this, I was motivated to find a solution for patients like myself, which led to working with scientists at MCR Labs and developing Ardent’s NOVA Decarboxylator & Infuser.

I love how diverse cannabis is and how it can be used in a variety of ways. My preference is usually flower but it’s not always the best form for certain recipes, so I adjust and make infused oils. For me, creating and infusing with different flower is an art form. Sometimes it’s easier to use concentrates, you just need to be careful and always have test results for your materials. I find that you have more control when using flower but concentrates — kief and rosen — can offer stronger doses in a simpler way, and depending on the recipe, can make more sense to take this route.

People continue to be confused about cooking with cannabis, what to make, how to use it, and beyond. Explaining the science behind it is extremely important, and so is providing education and the right tools. To help with this, Ardent launched DIY infusion kits which offers consumers everything they need to make a potent infused oil that’s accurate and effective.

Can you tell us a little bit about what’s going on with the current cannabis culture in Massachusetts? 

The cannabis culture in Massachusetts is constantly evolving, and it has been incredible to witness the community become even more public. Newcomers are entering the space, allowing for an opportunity to innovate and develop products for different types of people. I’m personally very excited about the baby boomer generation and how genuinely interested they are.

What are your favorite strains to cook with and why? Do you rely on terps for your recipes? 

My strain preference is flower with heavy citrus terpene profiles, but I really don’t play favorites. It all depends on the amount of THC/CBD I’m looking for. Pairing very dank strains with savory flavors is a good rule of thumb. It’s absolutely possible to avoid a “cannabis taste,” especially since you have to use so much less cannabis if you are decarbing properly. Part of the reason I pursued Ardent was to prove that you don’t need to use a large amount of cannabis to give you efficient results. I created infusing and dosing guides to help break down the process for users and help them tackle any aspect of the process.  


Let’s talk about the recipe: How does it work? 

I made Nutty Hemp Energy Balls, and they’re loaded with protein and superfoods to help power you through the day, especially when you’re on-the-go this holiday season. When it comes to edibles, people often assume that means gummies, hard candies, and brownies — but it doesn’t always need to be a “sugar fest.” The recipe’s base — hemp protein — is a delicious, healthy energy source, while also illustrating the massive benefit the plant can have in our lives. 

Packed full of valuable nutrients, you can also add seasonal spices like ginger, nutmeg or cinnamon, but feel free to substitute ingredients. Just be sure to keep the liquid/dry ratio the same so the balls hold their shape. Stock up, they keep in the freezer for up to a month!

Any good tips for newbies trying to find the perfect infusion? 

It’s important to have a solid understanding of what you want the outcome to be. Don’t add too much cannabis, use a good medium such as oil, and calculate the amount to figure out the dose.

Okay, edibles expert: Your machine might be fool-proof, but everyone has definitely had a dosing disaster (for better or worse). Tell us your most memorable edibles story.

Back when the NOVA was still in the developing stages, I was testing out how to make sublinguals and gave some to my mom to try. She held it underneath her tongue for a couple of minutes then swallowed, and for the first few hours, she was in a great mood and having a really fun time. I went home and then around midnight, my mom called me hysterically crying, saying she was throwing up and needed to go to the hospital. With her being five feet tall and small-framed, the dose was way too much. It was a good lesson on how to be careful with dosing — start “low and slow,” especially when you don’t take edibles regularly! 

Follow Shanel Lindsay on Instagram and Facebook.

Follow Carly Fisher on Instagram and Twitter, and pre-order her book, “Easy Getaways to Hudson Valley and the Catskills” (Countryman Press/W.W. Norton, April 2020).