A new kind of 'pot' luck?: B.C. catering company pairs food with cannabis

An Okanagan-based catering company is pairing cannabis with fine local food, similar to how many restaurants and catering companies offer wine pairings.

Stratus Cannabis Catering operates in customers' homes, so as to offer a safe space for guests to consume cannabis, according to chef Brent Pillon, who co-owns the business with his wife Jenna.

When told of the arrangement, however, the province of B.C. advised caution, pointing out the sale of non-medical cannabis is only permitted by licensed retailers. It recommended anyone wishing to pursue this type of business consult a lawyer.

Pilon said each event starts with getting to know the people they're cooking for.

"I've a lot of personal experience myself, so that comes into play," Pillon said. "We also engage with each person individually to find out where their tolerance and comfort is."

They offer guests cannabis vapour to "set the tone."

Pillon said they space out cannabis consumption throughout the evening so as not to overwhelm anyone.

The food doesn't necessarily taste like cannabis, even though they've infused it into their dishes, because they use an unflavoured THC distillate.

"We cook with a lot of beautiful local organic produce and meats and things and let that be the star of a dish," Pillon said. "Unless there's a special request to actually infuse [cannabis] flavour in there, we tend to stay away from it."

Submitted by Jenna Pillon
Submitted by Jenna Pillon

Pillon is a well-known chef in the Okanagan but said he started the catering company so he could be his own boss and be in a more intimate setting with the people he's cooking for.

"There's only so much interaction that we get when you're running a busy restaurant. It's just taking it back to what I really care about and that's engaging with people and food in a really intimate positive way."

When asked if Stratus required special licensing to provide cannabis with food services, Pillon said no, because people are consuming it in their homes.

"To the best of my knowledge, cannabis is legal to consume in one's own home," he said. "Our aim is to integrate that delightful culinary experience with cannabis for people in their home."

Consult a lawyer: provincial government

However, according to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, non-medical cannabis may only be sold by a licensed retailer.

"In this context, offering cannabis infused meals where cannabis is included as part of the service could constitute a sale," the ministry told CBC in an email.

"Anyone considering this type of business venture may wish to consult a lawyer."

The ministry also noted restrictions around promoting the sale of cannabis, including acting as an agent for the sale or purchase of cannabis. Additionally, no one can market, advertise or promote a place as a location to consume cannabis or spend time after consuming cannabis.