- West Coast Ventures Group, parent company of Illegal Burger, partnered with San Francisco-based Biolog to launch a test of cannabis infusion technology as it prepares to launch a joint venture with AmeriCanna Cafe, according to a press release. The pilot will feature a food truck that will travel to pop-up venues near recreational marijuana dispensaries in Colorado.
- Biolog will test its proprietary technology, CannaStix, which are inserted into food as solid sticks of seasonings, spices, flavorings and CBDs, which then liquefy during the cooking process to infuse virtually any food from the inside out.
- WCVC CEO Jim Nixon said he hopes to implement this technology across all of the company’s properties, which include Illegal Burger (five locations in Colorado) and El Señor Sol (six restaurants in the Denver, Colorado area).
A number of analysts have forecasted marijuana-infused food to be on trend for 2019. As more states legalize recreational marijuana across the country, it's likely that interest will continue to spread. Legalization initiatives have accelerated throughout the country since Colorado and Washington voters first pulled the lever in 2012, and Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana during the November midterm elections. With edibles making up a chunk of the cannabis market, it was only a matter of time before restaurants began leveraging the trend.
A study from A.T. Kearney shows that 41% of consumers in the U.S. and Canada would try cannabis-infused food, while Technavio predicts the global cannabis-infused edible products market to grow at a CAGR of over 25% between 2018 and 2022, citing growing social acceptance as the main driver.
Illegal Burger and El Señor Sol are already on top of the trend, previously rolling out the sale of CBD sports water at 11 Denver locations, but WCVC isn't the first company to dabble in CBD, the non-psychoactive chemical in cannabis often used for pain relief without giving patients a high. In October, the Mint Dispensary opened in Arizona, becoming the country's first takeout kitchen to serve meals laced with cannabis, according to Restaurant Business. Some fine dining concepts in California have been experimenting with cannabis, while plenty of consumer packaged goods companies also are dipping their toes into the market — including Constellation Brands.
WCVC claims to differentiate as the the first culinary group to use CannaStix. According to the release, Biolog’s predecessor company rolled out a non-cannabis version of the product last year, which was successful.
Still, the company will face plenty of challenges. For starters, liability remains ambiguous and processing revenues for a product that is not regulated at the federal level is tricky, according to Restaurant Business. But as one of the early adopters of cannabis-infused offerings, the company should generate plenty of new traffic consisting of people who are there for the novelty as well as the CBD effects.