Cannabis-Infused Dinner Events in Phoenix Are Growing in Popularity
The cannabis dinner trend is taking off in Phoenix — and in a big way. It seems like an obvious expansion of the wildly popular edibles trend, a market that’s estimated to be worth over $11.5 billion by 2025. But while the idea of cannabis-infused fine dining may seem like a no-brainer, restrictive laws have made it difficult to pull off even in most recreational states. Arizona is blazing a trail in this market, and many of the best chefs are hosting regular dinners in Phoenix as we speak.
The 411 on Cannabis-Infused Dinners in Phoenix
Cannabis-infused dining typically involves traditional menu options: steaks, seafood, seasoned chicken, and even vegetarian selections. The main difference is the cannabis component. Celebrity chefs like esteemed local cannabis chef Derek Upton dish up sumptuous 4- to 6-course meals that would hold up in any 5-star restaurant, and the cannabis just heightens the experience.
It was actually Upton who helped popularize the cannabis-infused dinner in Phoenix. Every month (and sometimes multiple times per month), he hosts a cannabis dinner party on the rooftop pool deck at The Clarendon Hotel and Spa. This dinner party, known as “Elevated Under the Stars,” allows connoisseurs to enjoy one-of-a-kind meals like gnocchi and infused Bolognese, and the food is sometimes prepared by notable guest chefs like Adam Pawlak (as seen on Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay).
And The Clarendon isn’t the only spot in Phoenix that hosts these types of dinners. Some local dispensaries also host dinners for private events on occasion. Over the summer, for example, Territory Dispensary in Chandler hosted a cannabis dinner party with chef Patrick Rusche at a private wedding. The meal included chicken, beef, and vegetarian options along with mocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and side dishes like toasted wild mushroom risotto.
While these dinners have only recently been offered out in the open, they are actually not new to the Phoenix area. Chef Upton and Chef Rusche have both noted that they’ve hosted these dinners privately for years, though past underground events have been by invitation only. Chef Rusche has developed meal plans to cater specifically to medical marijuana patients with conditions like cancer and diabetes.
Are There Cannabis Restaurants in Phoenix?
While Arizona still doesn’t have a legal framework for full-time cannabis restaurants, it is possible to purchase cannabis-infused meals for takeout. The Mint Cafe — located in Mint Dispensary between Phoenix and Tempe — is believed to be the first cannabis dispensary with a full-service kitchen.
The cafe serves popular items like pizzas, chicken nuggets, burgers, tacos, and much more, all made with cannabis-infused butters and oils. While it’s not the type of fine dining you would get from a multi-course cannabis dinner event, it does serve as an affordable and flexible option for when you’re just looking to grab a bite.
Are Cannabis-Infused Dinners Legal in Phoenix?
Phoenix cannabis dinners are legal as long as they play by a certain set of rules. For example, no cannabis can be sold at these events. All of the cannabis infusions are donated by individuals and by dispensaries.
In most cases, the infusions aren’t cooked into the meals themselves but are rather provided to guests in the form of medicated tinctures. The guests are then instructed on how to infuse their meals using the tinctures, thereby heightening the experience. Meals are commonly accompanied by about 15mg worth of infused cannabis. While the dosage may seem low, remember that edibles tend to be more potent than smoked cannabis because the liver converts THC into the metabolite 11-hydroxy-THC (which is at least 2 to 3 times stronger than regular delta-9 THC).
As long as guests are at least 21 years of age and everyone follows the rules, these events are legal to enjoy. Cannabis kitchens (like the aforementioned Mint Cafe) are able to sell fully infused foods because the foods are sold at a dispensary and intended to be eaten offsite, just like any other edibles.
The Cost of a Cannabis-Infused Dinner in Phoenix
The average cost of a cannabis-infused dinner party is about $200 per person. In general, you can expect to pay between $150 and $250 for a complete multi-course dining experience. Infused dinners at The Clarendon currently go for $250 per person, but other Phoenix cannabis dinner events can be found in the $150 range.
While the price may seem high, you’re actually paying for more than a meal. You’re paying for a complete, chef-guided culinary experience where guests are educated about how to most effectively incorporate cannabis into their lives. It’s a unique social experience that lasts the full evening as each course is delivered slowly and savored amid excellent company.
For those who want to try cannabis-infused foods but are seeking something more casual or cost-effective, the cannabis kitchens are a good alternative. For as little as $10 per menu item, you can set up your own cannabis dinner party at home.
What to Know When Attending a Cannabis-Infused Dinner in Phoenix
If you have the opportunity to attend a cannabis-infused dinner, you should absolutely do it. There are plenty of opportunities in the city. See our guide to finding a 420-friendly AirBnB in Phoenix if you're visiting briefly. Just check the Clarendon schedule and research other local events — including those hosted by local dispensaries. If you have a Phoenix medical marijuana card, you’ll have access to even more local events and may qualify for discounts at select dinners. And if you can’t make it to a public event, you can sometimes book a private event with a local chef for an added cost.
If you do attend a local dinner, just remember the basics: Have a designated driver, show up with an open mind, and sit back and enjoy. The cannabis-infused dinner may just become your favorite new social pastime.