BALTIMORE — Marijuana is poised to become a billion-dollar business in Maryland after the state legalized its recreational use
Entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the demand – including for private dinners where the food is infused with cannabis.
WJZ investigator Mike Helgren takes you to dinner with marijuana on the menu.
Chef Jazmin Moore puts the finishing touches on her dish, rubbing cannabis-infused oil and spices on her Moroccan chicken.
The table is set.
And guests are just starting to arrive at the private home near National Harbor for food that is anything but ordinary.
“A lot of people are moving away from alcohol and looking for more alternative ways, maybe just to relax and enjoy themselves,” said Moore, who goes by the name Chef Jazz. “So a lot of our customers find us there. They’re looking for affordable ways to use cannabis, and what better way than with dinner?”
Every course is infused with cannabis.
Chef Jazz says you’ll feel the equivalent of a few glasses of wine by the end of the meal.
“Most of my dinners I say are about two glasses of wine, like a nice red wine. Not many. We offer people to take ride shares and they have to sign a waiver,” she said. “I always say this: you don’t have to be stoned to be healthy. If that’s what you like, that’s fine, but I’m overdoing it, I’m starting to see it too much.”
She said she advises people to “know their numbers” and consults with her guests before each event.
“Make sure people are over 21, all those things, but also, ‘Where are you? What’s your relationship with cannabis?”
For her, it’s a labor of love.
Chef Jazz went to culinary school in Baltimore, but thought it would all be a failure after she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which caused digestive problems so bad she could barely eat.
She told Hellgren that cannabis helped her overcome her symptoms and turn her career in a new direction.
“I actually went to culinary school in Baltimore in 2006, which was the same time I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease,” Moore said. “I’m down to about 84 pounds. I was also on five medications and had to have a colostomy bag. I was 23 years old. This was supposed to be my life.”
Her business, The Green Panther Chef, specializes in cooking with cannabis, and she doesn’t let the social stigma hold her back.
“I was a closet user for quite some time. I was very afraid to come out of the closet with cannabis,” she said. “The reason was the repulsion, how you look and all that. I really feel like I have something to say in this space and it helps people.”
She said she likes to “create space” at her dinners, which usually last three hours and start with a cocktail or CBD cocktail.
On a recent Friday night, she invited us to join her guests on the ride – where they can relax with friends without fear of a hangover.
More and more people want alternatives to alcohol:
in39 percent of Americans say one to two drinks are unhealthy — a record high.
Cannabis can be.
“It just helps people relax,” dinner guest Shirdell Kenney told Helgren. “A lot of times we have a lot going on in our daily lives, whether we’re working 9 to 5, at home with the kids, or messing around and doing Uber, sometimes we get a little stressed. With these events, you definitely want to give and just soak in the experience.”
She wants to remove the stigma surrounding marijuana use.
“Cannabis helps reduce anxiety and helps you just enjoy what’s going on. I’ve seen people go from being silent to—once they get to eating and drinking—they’ll be like, “Hey, what’s up? Hello everyone !’ He laughs and enjoys everyone’s company, whether he knows them or not.”
Another guest, Ayana Lawson, runs her own travel company, Front Row Travels, which is focused on cannabis-friendly getaways and experiences.
“We are not fools. We are business owners,” Lawson said, adding that she used her contacts in the traditional travel industry. “When I saw he ticked all the boxes, I just jumped. It wasn’t easy because we’re still in a gray area while it’s federally prohibited.”
She estimates that fewer than ten businesses in the entire country do what she does today.
“The all-inclusive experience we associate with alcohol is now being done with cannabis. You have resorts that have dispensaries on property, so you really don’t have to leave for anything.”
Back at dinner, as we move to the table, Lawson leads the conversation, but the food is the star.
“If you want me to back off, let me know or push it, let me know, but we’re here to enjoy ourselves,” Chef Jazz told his guests.
The first course is pumpkin soup, followed by a roasted pear salad.
One guest talks about how cannabis has helped her as a thyroid cancer survivor. Another stated that the food “just tastes better with grass” and “because of how Chef Jazz put it together too.”
The chef has his own cookbook and loves teaching others how to cook with cannabis.
She hopes marijuana will eventually be allowed to expand on restaurant menus in Maryland.
“A lot of restaurants are turning to them. They want to integrate some kind of cannabis program, she said. “There are a lot of coffee shops in Maryland that want to have something cannabis-related, but they want to make sure they’re doing it right. “
Guests declared Chef Jazz’s classic dinner with a modern twist a success.
Shirdell Kenney told us, “The difference between smoking a joint and eating…it’s better and smoother.
When marijuana is on the menu, it’s a great dining experience.
“It’s a time of year for reflection,” said Chef Jazz. “This Friendsgiving, what better way to do that than with cannabis?”