Weed on the menu

Although marijuana has yet to appear on the menu of restaurants, says Steve Fox, co-founder of the National Cannabis Association, it could be just a matter of time.

“Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol in terms of addictiveness, toxicity, and association with violence, amongst other things,” said Fox. “It’s a really less harmful substance both to the individual user and society.”

For those reasons, Fox explained, it’s not unreasonable to think cannabis will become as commonly offered and consumed as alcohol is today.

His point was underscored by the inclusion of a session on marijuana use in restaurants as one of the educational presentations of the NRA Show. The inclusion follows the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Washington, D.C.  By 2019, California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada will likely lift their prohibitions.

The means of consumption could vary widely, the panelists suggested. “The world is open right now to all different types of innovation in terms of infused products and technology,” Fox said.

Marijuana as an ingredient may not just be tolerated, but desire because of the health benefits, suggested Robin Griggs Lawrence, author of the forthcoming “Cannabis Kitchen Cookbook.”  She described as a healing plant and culinary option, and pointed out that it’s also a vegetable—a few reasons as to why the use of it in food should be acceptable.

According to Melissa Parks, executive chef and cannabis culinary consultant, there are many different strains of cannabis and the varieties can be infused in different dishes, desserts, and cocktails.

“As you start to put together this meal, say infused roasted pork loin with a rosemary sauce with an infused drink, you could help someone sleep better, cure something as simple as back pain or a headache, or help ease the pain of something more severe.”

“The stigma needs to be taken away from it because it’s helping a lot of people,” Lawrence said. “Whether that’s relaxing with it instead of a martini after work, or because they have real medical needs that it’s addressing.”

What’s needed is changing the language around cannabis, Lawrence said, “The word marijuana came up in the ‘reefer madness’ pre-prohibition era to make it sound foreign and scary. The name of the plant is called cannabis sativa, it’s cannabis.”

It’s a task that restaurateurs may have to assume, the speakers indicaed.

“We’re certainly moving in one direction in terms of marijuana policy in this country,” said Fox. “Things are happening very rapidly, and in time we’re certain marijuana will be legal across the U.S. and the globe.”

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