Article by Christine Sismondo, Toronto Star
Weed-tinis, anyone? Or, perhaps you’re in the mood for a bud-tail?
Well, this is going to have to wait awhile, it seems. Despite rampant speculation that the next big cocktail trend will be weed infusions, cannabis cocktails aren’t coming to a bar near you any time soon. The short answer as to why is simple. The Cannabis Act, which makes the drug legal on Oct. 17 specifically prohibits the sale of products that combine the newly legalized weed with alcohol. Same for nicotine and caffeine, incidentally.
That isn’t stopping the hospitality industry from looking for creative workarounds, however, including the launch of products and events designed to get consumers “interested” in the possibility of mixing cannabis and alcohol. This past year saw several events in Toronto that broached this territory, including a cannabis expo that showcased weed-inspired cocktails and a five-course dinner that paired dishes with cannabis terpenes — essential oils that contain the aroma of specific weed strains. Since cannabis was still illegal at the time, guests didn’t consume any cannabis, they just smelled the terpenes from vials that were passed around. After the legislation takes effect, events such as these will inevitably become more hands-on, offering people a chance to sample actual cannabis — as in the get-you-high kind, with all the active ingredients.
“I think what you’re going to see, as of October 17, is an explosion of cannabis events, all of which will be private because you can’t sell cannabis unauthorized,” says Lisa Campbell, a cannabis advocate who is expanding her family’s wine agency, Lifford, to include a “cannabis solutions” branch. “Say you’re a bartender and you get hired for a wedding and the clients want a cannabis bar. As long as none of the guests are buying the cannabis from the bar, and you obtained the cannabis legally, and you’re within your sharing limits, it should be legal.” (Canadians will be legally allowed to share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults after Oct. 17.)
In preparation for a potentially weed-infused future, some stakeholders are launching weed education programs for hospitality industry professionals. Both George Brown College and the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers are working on developing courses that could, one day, lead to certifications for servers and sommeliers that specialize in cannabis. The programs would cover two main areas — the flavour profiles associated with different strains and promoting knowledge about responsible cannabis use, especially when it’s mixed or paired with alcohol. Even though we’re a long way from legal weed-tinis in bars, there’s nothing stopping people from experimenting with cannabis cocktails at home.