As the legal gray area washes out, weed is going the way of craft beer and quinoa. Pearl District trophy wives and bushy-tailed college grads alike are revealing homemade topical ointments and recipes for marijuana-infused lemonade, while major companies such as Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Skinnygirl beverages have announced intentions of future products made with marijuana.
Here's what the Lexus/Lululemon/Lacoste world of luxury weed may look like.
The Cannabis Club Day Spa
Washington state's highest-grossing recreational cannabis club, New Vansterdam, is trying to make weed into another high-end artisanal product. "We want to treat pot like Portland treats IPAs," says New Vansterdam's Shon-Lueiss Harris. "We know people care deeply about what they smoke."
The shop has reached across the border to start a medicinal dispensary in Beaverton, in order to familiarize itself with Oregon patients before legalization grants access to the masses. It will go by New Vansterdam Med, and will be designed to feel more like a day spa than a clinic. Shon described the aesthetic as "organic and warm. Patients should feel as though they've walked into a cloud atop a forest."
A moss wall will cover one side of the shop, and reclaimed branches adorned with lights will dangle from the ceiling, creating an ethereal, comforting glow. Strains and farms will be listed in as much detail as the purveyors' list at Ned Ludd. Meanwhile, budtenders, many of whom are growers themselves, will play the same role as knowledgeable wine stewards.
Seattle's Kush Tourism (kushtourism.com) has modeled its business on the profitable enterprise of wine tours, which breathed new life into Oregon tourism by ferrying Portland urbanites and well-heeled out-of-staters to vineyards for tastings and scenery.
Kush already has three marijuana tours operating out of the Seattle area. Each serves a different avenue of cannabis curiosity: a basic tour of an indoor grow facility, a "Toke 'n' Brush" medicated painting class, and the grand "Kush Tour," which visits a recreational shop, a smoking lounge, a glass-blowing demonstration, and a trip through a testing and processing facility
Kush's website includes a database for marijuana-friendly lodging in Washington, Colorado and other states that are in the process of legalizing recreational use. They mention a few places in Oregon where one can stay overnight and smoke in or around the room, including a luxe bed and breakfast called Mt. Scott Manor that proclaims it is "proud to support cannabis users seeking a relaxing B&B experience," while advertising deer in the nearby woods. Such progress in pot tourism bodes well for those of us crossing our fingers for Enchanted Forest to become the first (openly) pot-friendly amusement park.
Wine and Weed
A surprising company to join the conversation around legal cannabis is Colangelo & Partners (colangelopr.com), a public relations firm representing wine and spirits across the globe. Its clients include Sapporo beer, Amaro Lucano liqueur, and all South African and Spanish wine. Though the company's work is mainly with alcohol, it can't ignore the increasing presence of marijuana in the mainstream culture of leading cities.
"Major wine publications are talking about the future of pairing weed and wine," says Colangelo & Partners account executive Paul Yanon, "but there are few pairings, if any, available online or at individual vineyards. The fact is, there are lots of people who enjoy the two together, and believe they can complement one another."
And so Yanon and co-worker Ferdinand Pougatch hit the books and assembled a world-class list of wine-and-weed pairings. They also hope to encourage people to experiment with flavors and invent their own pairings. Wine enthusiasts can rediscover their favored wines by trying them while smoking different marijuana strains, and whole new tastes or aromas may come to light.
If anything, Pougatch and Yanon show how anticlimactic it is to integrate marijuana into a traditional business philosophy. Restructuring the face of your company to be open to marijuana legalization doesn't mean there has to be a smoking table at reception. Like a skunky Kush and well-rounded red wine, high-end businesses and marijuana can go hand in hand.
Recommended Wine and Weed Pairings
Picks by Paul Yanon and Ferdinand Pougatch
2013 Mulderbosch cabernet sauvignon rosé paired with Jack Herer
Whoever says real men don't drink pink while smoking doesn't know what they're talking about. South Africa's Mulderbosch cabernet sauvignon rosé and sativa-dominant Jack Herer each have fruity and earthy aftertastes, which make them an attractive pairing. The wine has aromas of blood orange, cherry drops and black currant cordial, and finishes with a slightly rich yet refreshing finish. This is a perfect option for that lazy outdoor picnic smoke.
2012 Mulderbosch Faithful Hound red blend paired with Blackberry Kush
This Bordeaux-style wine overflows with classic claret aromas of ripe cassis, fragrant purple plums and spicy notes of sandalwood, star anise and white pepper. Because cabernet blends are full-bodied, you can throw a heady, full-bodied strain at it. This is the job for a Kush. This purple indica matches perfectly with the intense weight and flavor of the delicious red wine.
2012 Mulderbosch sauvignon blanc paired with Amnesia Haze
This South African wine finds the perfect balance between the powerful herbaceous notes in New Zealand sauvignon blancs, and the tropical, fruit-forward flavors in California varieties. Amnesia Haze, a hybrid, is the perfect match. This top-selling weed is citrusy and earthy, but not too overwhelming. It will help highlight the wine's richness and acidity.