Barbecue sauce and seltzer: two backyard summer party staples. But depending on how you get down, yours may be missing one key ingredient: cannabis.
“When we think about cannabis, we're thinking about celebrations and, you know, getting together with friends,” said Andy Husbands, pitmaster and chef at The Smoke Shop BBQ.
And now you have the option of adding a little something extra to the mix, thanks to the Smoke Shop's partnership with Bountiful Farms, which infuses some of its barbecue sauce with cannabis. It's going through a refinement process.
“It's basically very similar to how they would make whiskey or how they make alcohol,” said Zachary Taylor, the general manager of cultivation at Bountiful Farms, a grow facility in Lakeville that houses more than 2,000 cannabis plants and recently won the title for "Best Grass in Mass" at the annual Cultivator's Cup. Now Taylor wants to expand the idea of how cannabis is consumed.
Watch: Meet the manufacturers behind cannabis-infused seltzers and barbecue sauce
There is a difference between the down-and-dirty casual environment of barbecue pits and professional cannabis growing facilities. Workers in the cultivation rooms at Bountiful Farms wear full-body coveralls and go through an airlock on their way in. When Taylor goes into grow rooms, he wears a hairnet over his long beard so as not to contaminate the plants.
Still, there is plenty of common ground for a business partnership.
“Barbecue is something that is a passion-driven food, and also is something that's meant to be shared,” Taylor said. “And you don't necessarily make a brisket just for yourself and a couple of friends. And so cannabis is that same way.”
Bottles of the barbecue sauce come with a one tablespoon measure for proper dosing — not enough to cover a whole brisket, but enough to get adult consumers feeling its effects.
And cannabis isn't just going into food these days. Eighty miles north in Georgetown, one company is trying to make cannabis the beverage of choice. It's a seltzer company called Levia, which operates almost like a brewery.
“People are just used to drinking things when they get together, and it's a very social way to consume,” Levia CEO Troy Brosnan said. “Our beverage kicks in fairly quickly, about 12 to 15 minutes. And you know what you'll feel like for the next 2 hours.”
At Levia’s facility, cans of seltzer are pushed through assembly lines where they are filled, labeled and packaged with a childproof plastic top. In Massachusetts, edibles must come in doses of 5 miligrams of THC or less, and the dosing must be clearly labeled. The state also requires childproofing on all containers.
Since edibles consumers might be new to cannabis, Brosnan said, each seltzer formula is labeled with taglines based on the type of cannabis in them and how they'll make you feel.
“Achieve is our sativa, and 'get things done' is kind of the tagline that goes with it,” he said. “Celebrate is our hybrid, so we kind of feel like it speaks for itself. And then Dream is just really couch lock indica. Go to sleep and dream. So we tried to really make it as simple for people as possible because we think that education is really hard in this space.”
Dr. Uma Dhanabalan, a physician and certified cannabinoid medicine specialist, noted that even the same cannabis product can have very different effects from one person to the next.
“It is a learning curve. It's a bit of trial and error and understanding how the different products work,” Dhanabalan said. “How long will it last? How quickly will you feel it?”
And eating or drinking is a lot different than smoking.
“When you inhale, [it goes through your] lungs, it's right into the brainstem. That's why you feel it right away,” Dhanabalan said. “When you ingest it, it has to go through the digestive system.”
That means it takes longer to feel — and longer to wear off.