You can now buy marijuana legally in my home state of Colorado. You don’t have to have a legitimate medical reason to buy it, or even a made-up medical reason. You can just walk into a store and buy it, about as easily as you can buy beer.
There are restrictions, of course. You have to be at least 21 years old and have valid identification, just as you do to buy alcohol. Some jurisdictions aren’t allowing retail marijuana shops to open, just as some jurisdictions don’t allow liquor stores. In fact, according to this very comprehensive looking guide to marijuana in Colorado, only 136 retail spaces have been licensed so far, and most of them are in Denver.
And you can’t just smoke weed anywhere you feel like it. If you can’t smoke tobacco somewhere, you can’t smoke pot there, either. And you can’t do it in public spaces, or on federal land (because of course pot’s still illegal federally).
In fact, according to the Denver Post story I linked to above, you can pretty much only smoke it in a private home, or possibly some hotel rooms — potentially an awesome driver of room service.
But still, it’s legal. And so are “marijuana-infused” products, such as brownies, drinks and so on.
That, of course, makes me wonder what restaurants might gain from such legalization.
I’m visualizing marijuana appetizers — maybe pot butter, made delicious by chefs using their chef skills, spread on toast and sold to customers at the beginning of a meal. Or maybe a refreshing aperitif enhanced by some pot bitters.
I would be shocked if one of Colorado’s talented mixologists hasn’t already made some sort of marijuana tincture, at least for personal use.
After such appetite-priming meal starters, think about how much customers would enjoy their entrées, their inclination to find fault blunted by the euphoria-inducing effects of THC.
I imagine a new post-entrée course of crunchy food being born, giving rise to dining rooms full of customers happily chomping on low-food-cost tortilla chips, and nachos, while staring at light fixtures.
But for now that doesn’t look possible. All marijuana products must be sold at one of those 136 retail outlets in packages marked by the seal of the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division.
Still, pot tourism is inevitable, and the marketing possibilities are substantial for restaurants targeting visitors with the munchies.
Of course, smart restaurateurs with large numbers of pot-smoking clientele have likely long known how to appeal to their baked customers. But now, in Colorado, and I suppose Washington, they can do it openly.
What upside, or downside, do you see for restaurants in a world of legal marijuana?