The convergence of the marijuana and restaurant industries accelerated last Friday with the opening of what’s believed to be the first nation’s first takeout kitchen for cannabis-laced meals.
Although cannabis-infused candies, beverages, baked goods and other snack-type items are readily available in the 30 states where marijuana can be legally sold and consumed, the newest Mint Dispensary, in Tempe, Ariz., breaks new ground by featuring entree-type items, from burgers to pasta, according to press reports. The idea is to provide users of medical marijuana with a way of consuming cannabis in the normal course of their day.
The Mint Dispensary has copied more than restaurants’ menus. Its website lists a number of promotions regularly used by chains and independents, from buy one, get one free deals to daily specials and premiums such as a free pipe.
Online ordering is offered, and local media accounts say the facility plans to add catering and delivery for the holidays.
Among the savory items are mac and cheese and pizza. Only carryout service is currently offered, and only to residents bearing a permit to buy and use medical marijuana. (Recreational use is not legal in Arizona.)
Even in states where marijuana is legal, restaurants are not permitted under state law to sell it, or even allow its consumption on-site. Some states have opened the door for restaurants to ride the cannabis boom by permitting local jurisdictions to decide whether on-premise consumption should be allowed for eateries. That loophole has enabled Denver to permit consumption on the site of places such as The Coffee Joint, which is believed to be the first restaurant in the country to allow customers to light up.
The restaurant industry has avidly monitored the situation because research suggests the opportunity is huge. A study from A.T. Kearney, for instance, shows that 41% of consumers in the United States and Canada would try cannabis-laced food if it was available. Those would-be experimenters are separate from the 28% of the public that say they'd indulge in snack-type edibles.
Edibles are expected to generate $1.4 billion in sales within the U.S. and Canada this year, with sales growing by $4.5 billion during the next four years, according to a study conducted by ArcView Market Research and BDS Analytics.
Recreational marijuana sales and use across all of Canada was legalized this month.