Weed restaurants could be the answer
Maya Elisabeth is a seven-time Cannabis Cup champ and founder of Om Edibles, a Northern California company specializing in everything from tinctures to truffles. Recently, she partnered with Whoopi Goldberg to create a line of topical cannabis, specifically for menstruating women. She digs the idea of the pot restaurant, naturally.
"Marijuana is totally a social experience. It should be treated the same way that we treat alcohol -- being able to consume it in public, in a shared experience. Until it does, it will never be fully accepted," she says. "I fully believe in the implementation of a restaurant serving great edibles. I mean, wouldn't that be great?"
When you are making novel dishes like aged rib-eye decked out with cannabutter, or cannabis-infused dark chocolate brittle made with toffee, smoked almonds, and caramel (one of Mindy's, actually), you get intrigue before the promise of pot. This type of novelty can be especially appealing for a generation raised on marijuana of a lower caliber (read: baby boomers... which there are a lot of) who may be hesitant to dip their toes back into the habits of their youth.
But what might an actual marijuana restaurant look like at this hypothetical stage, when the only frame of reference we have is incognito dinners?
"The logical first step might be a marijuana cafe-style set-up, connected to a dispensary," says Michael Bologna, cannabis advocate and founder of Green Lion consulting, a Colorado firm dedicated to serving cannabis-centric businesses. He cites Amsterdam's famed coffee shops as an example.
But for a sit-down, traditionally styled marijuana restaurant to function serving infused food beyond space cakes, having non-pot dishes on the menu would be a must -- to make sure people who don't indulge can enjoy themselves, and (maybe more importantly) to encourage a designated, non-stoned driver. In many ways, it would operate along the same trajectory as alcohol in restaurants.
More to the point: a weed restaurant would probably look like any other restaurant. Nearly all food can be infused with cannabis in one way or another, so menus would be open-ended and customizable. That means the possibilities for cuisine and decor go well beyond black lights and brownies... they're infinite.
"There are so many ways to infuse food with cannabis, you can make it work with almost any dish," says Trinidad. "As a chef, marijuana as an ingredient excites me. You can match flavors of strains to match and complement flavors of dishes. It can add another dimension to food -- it's like a whole new game for us… it would definitely thrive in a restaurant setting. I can see the weed restaurant taking over the world."
Putting out high-quality, edible marijuana is an integral cog to getting the common consumer into using marijuana in the first place, and in turn, vital to the overall acceptance of marijuana and the movement to have it legalized nationwide. Giving people a safe space to do so in the relaxed company of friends and family is a structural need if marijuana hopes to join alcohol on the pedestal of America's legal intoxicants.
There's kind of a big caveat, though.