Philip Wolf was sipping wine at a vineyard in Barcelona when the idea struck him: If people can drink and eat in good company, why can’t they get high?
In February 2014, one month after Colorado in the US fully legalised marijuana, Wolf launched his company Cultivating Spirits, which hosts marijuana pairing dinners across the state. Like a wine tasting, the events mix gourmet foods and ganja, and cater to a sophisticated audience.
“I knew that cannabis, from a connoisseur’s standpoint, had the same qualities as wine,” Wolf tells Business Insider. Plus, he says, “you can treat cannabis just like wine. Some people are going to buy boxed wine. But other people like the education and experience behind it.”
Here’s what it’s like to attend one of Cultivating Spirits’ events.
Marijuana pairing dinners most often take place in people's homes. That's because Colorado law prohibits marijuana consumption in public, and Cultivating Spirits does not have a permit to sell like a dispensary would. Tourists sometimes hold events in Airbnb rentals.
Wolf talks to the host before the event to find out the location, how many people will attend (Cultivating Spirits places a cap at 12), and the desired vibe.
Wolf then visits a dispensary in the area and talks to a budtender, who has an intimate knowledge of the inventory, to find out what's good and in stock.
Wolf, who considers himself the world's first pot sommelier, will buy samples of the marijuana strains he likes most based on their smell, taste, strength, and intended effect.
After he samples the strains, Wolf sends descriptions of his top three picks to the chef overseeing the event. The chef will create a menu based on the strain profiles.
When guests sit down to dinner, one of the first things they do is familiarise themselves with the plant. They break it up with their fingers, smell it, and examine its fuzzy hairs.
Thought most guests will be experienced smokers, Wolf walks them through how to take the perfect hit. He encourages them to light the material around the sides of the pipe, rather than torching the whole bowl, in order to preserve green stuff for the next hit.
There's even a secret to the inhalation: 'It's not about how big of a hit you take, it's about how big you expand your lungs,' Wolf says.