The process of smoking involves the burning or igniting of marijuana and inhaling the smoke. With public health perceptions aimed at mitigating harmful tobacco smoke, it is natural to understand the reluctance to encourage smoking marijuana. Florida legislators decided that alternative methods of consumption were safer, including commercially-produced food products. The concept of edible cannabis appears to be more palatable for politicians. On the recreational, adult-use front, as marijuana use has become destigmatized, smoking cannabis is facing competition from other forms of consumption, such as edible cannabis products.
Creative entrepreneurs are producing a variety of edible products made with extracted marijuana oils containing cannabinoids: active chemicals such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD). Once the cannabinoids are extracted into liquid form, they can be incorporated into ordinary food. Because the stomach absorbs and processes the cannabinoids slower than the lungs, the oral method of consumption involves a prolonged release of cannabis into the system. The slow metabolism of marijuana-infused edible food products is a benefit for recreational users who want a long, continuous high. Similarly, these products can be a critical part of a medical patient’s cannabis-use regimen because the medicine is absorbed and metabolized slowly through the digestive system. A more extended release of the drug can have palliative outcomes for patients with certain ailments that may benefit from a more sustained therapeutic effect.
But the cannatourism conundrum means there are no opportunities for on-premises consumption of edible food. Restaurants cannot obtain licenses to produce marijuana-infused products or sell edibles to consumers. The future of the U.S. marijuana industry may eventually see marijuana bars or restaurants. One can imagine a multi-course meal at a gourmet restaurant involving low-dose infusions for each course. While this joie de vivre experience may fit well with the foodie cultural revolution, we are not there yet.
A work-around solution involves private catering. To avoid the public use prohibition, social consumption may involve such private use as catered medicated meals in states with medical use only laws, or cannabis-themed dinner parties in recreational law states. These are happening more frequently as connoisseur- or pharmaceutical-grade cannabis is being seen as a luxury experience, like drinking fine wines.