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California preps for pot-infused cuisine

  • Alex Howe, right, and Chip Forsythe, co-founders of Rebel Coast, pause for photos with their cannabis-infused wine in Los Angeles. ap photo

  • This Friday, Dec. 22, 2017, photo shows a bottle of Rebel Coast Winery's cannabis-infused wine in Los Angeles. As the world's largest legal recreational marijuana market takes off in California, the trendsetting state is set to ignite the cannabis-culinary scene. Rebel Coast Winery’s THC-infused sauvignon blanc is made from Sonoma County grapes, but the alcohol is removed in compliance with regulations that prohibit mixing pot with alcohol. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Jae C. Hong

  • In this Dec. 22, 2017, photo, three bottles of Rebel Coast Winery's cannabis-infused wine sits in Los Angeles. As the world's largest legal recreational marijuana market takes off in California, the trendsetting state is set to ignite the cannabis-culinary scene. Rebel Coast Winery’s THC-infused sauvignon blanc is made from Sonoma County grapes, but the alcohol is removed in compliance with regulations that prohibit mixing pot with alcohol. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Jae C. Hong



Associated Press
Tuesday, December 26, 2017

SAN DIEGO — The sauvignon blanc boasts brassy, citrus notes, but with one whiff, it’s apparent this is no normal Sonoma County wine. It’s infused with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that provides the high.

Move over, pot brownies. The world’s largest legal recreational marijuana market kicks off Monday in California, and the trendsetting state is set to ignite the cannabis culinary scene.

Chefs and investors have been teaming up to offer an eye-boggling array of cannabis-infused food and beverages, weed-pairing supper clubs and other extravagant pot-to-plate events in preparation for legalization come Jan. 1.

Legal pot in states like Oregon, Washington and Colorado and California’s medical marijuana market already spurred a cannabis-foodie movement with everything from olive oil to tomato bisques infused with the drug.

Cannabis-laced dinners with celebrity chefs at private parties have flourished across Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego in recent years, but a medical marijuana card was required to attend.

With that requirement gone, the edibles market is expected to boom, though manufacturers face a host of regulations, and doctors fear the products could increase emergency room visits and entice youth. Marijuana industry analysts predict edibles for the recreational marijuana market will top $100 million in sales in 2018.

“Californian’s culinary expertise is far more refined from college kids making pot brownies in a dorm,” said John Kagia of Frontier Data, a cannabis market research firm.

“This is the dawn of the Amsterdam-style cafe in the U.S.,” Kagia said. “We expect to see spaces that are targeted to cannabis consumers that capitalize on the arts and entertainment offerings of California and really create unique and elevated experiences.”

That includes ethnic options in a state with the largest immigrant population in the U.S.

“Now you see all kinds of cuisines,” said Cristina Espiritu of the 420 Foodie Club, which has promoted cannabis food events in Southern California that have included everything from Mediterranean dishes to Filipino specialties. “There’s going to be infused tacos, infused burritos. I think because of the diversity and creativity in California, this is going to explode.”

But Espiritu worries regulations could make certain aspects of the culinary experience accessible only to the elite in places like Beverly Hills.