Getting high for fun was legalized in four more states on Nov. 8, as Massachusetts, California, Nevada and Maine joined the likes of Colorado, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and the District of Columbia in allowing weed for recreational use. Here are three potential implications the legalization trend may have on the restaurant industry.
1. Smokin’ sales
Although faced with restrictions, restaurants and chefs have capitalized on marijuana’s recent legality to get diners in the door. Colorado-based sushi chain Hapa Sushi released a limited-time sushi and marijuana pairing menu ad in celebration of the state legalizing marijuana in 2012. Previously, the chain also released a map showing Hapa’s locations in conjunction with medical marijuana dispensaries as part of an ad campaign.
Colorado restaurants and bars have also seen tourism increase in recent years. In 2015, the state welcomed 77.7 million visitors, who spent an all-time high of $19.1 billion, according to the Colorado Tourism Office. A survey distributed by the office showed that 23% of vacationers were motivated by marijuana to visit.
2. Spinoff businesses
Some chefs have already established separate businesses and private events involving marijuana. Chicago restaurant owner and pastry chef Mindy Segal created her own line of medicinal edibles, and Boulder, Colo., chef Hosea Rosenberg partnered with a dispensary to host a private four-course dinner with marijuana and drink pairings.
3. A new kind of BYO
Only licensed dispensaries can legally sell marijuana products, and consumers who wish to smoke or enjoy weed-laced edibles must do so in private, with an exception in one market: Denver. The city has passed an initiative allowing private establishments such as restaurants and cafes to apply for a permit that would allow guests to bring marijuana and consume it on their premises.
Though the rules are not finalized, permitted operations will be unable to also have a liquor license and will likely be required to train staff on marijuana use, release their plans for dealing with intoxicated guests and comply with such regulations as the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act.