Without question, one of the hottest topics hitting the foodservice industry this year is THC, cannabis and CBD. In fact, in a survey of 650 professional chefs, 75% stated that the infusion of food with cannabis and CBD would be a hot trend this year.

This deep interest in experimenting with these ingredients in the culinary field is on fire, despite or in spite of federal regulations that render cannabis illegal (and only legal recreationally in 11 states). And while regulation for use of these ingredients in food remains murky (federal and state laws can conflict in many cases) it would be prudent for foodservice operators, CBD/cannabis producers and brand partners to consider the imminent implications of using these ingredients in the foodservice industry.

In a recent panel, which included Chris Sayegh, CEO/Head Chef of The Herbal Chef, three key implications arose that, in my opinion, have been left out of this dialogue thus far, and are critical for those looking to dive in:

How do you take your… dosage? It is mission critical that we as users, and operators as our providers, understand how our bodies interact with these ingredients. Restaurants, private chefs and other foodservice operators will be held to a standard of care that was never expected of them before. Dosing, which will be their #1 liability, must be measured against body type, prior experience, meal length, earlier intoxication, etc. Interested in getting to know the market? Get testing now.

Hospitality like you’ve never seen it. The role of front-of-house (FOH) staff will change as we know it. You thought chefs had it tough being responsible for proper dosage? FOH staff must be well trained, and anticipate needs in 100 new ways. They will be responsible for assessing your state when you arrive (have you already smoked or drank today?). your needs while you’re experiencing an infused meal (hungry? thirsty? tired?) and ensuring you can get yourself home safely. As Chef Chris explains it, “the level of hospitality needs to meet the level of consciousness at dinner.”

How do you plan to get home tonight? Speaking of getting home safely… operators’ #2 liability will be transportation, whether they’re serving CBD/THC or just simply, alcohol. Those in states with dram shop laws will be under additional scrutiny, but given this new area, all must be in tune with diners’ expressions and behaviors. Remember, there’s still no way to test for marijuana intoxication. Some experts are already meeting with authorities about allocating portions of restaurant parking lots to ride-share services, to encourage safe transportation. That’s a <<wink wink>> to Uber, Lyft, Via and others, who should be getting involved in this dialogue now.

There are just a few areas that the food and beverage industry will need to consider as CBD and cannabis are legalized, not to mention appropriate menuing and regulating health claims.

Those who are truly committed to expanding in this arena will be best positioned for success by taking these insights into account and bringing in the right experts, like Chef Chris, and our team. Curious about how you can tap into the growing world of marijuana and CBD? We’re here to help.