The road to the modern legalization movement has been long and filled with pitfalls and logical fallacies. At least the legalization efforts have cut through the long lasting myths born in the Reefer Madness era of pot PR, and a few states have enacted their own adult-use laws which allow for the legal purchase of marijuana out of licensed and taxed shops. The program has been so successful in Colorado that the state has already reached the legal limit on how much taxes it can collect on the stuff and has started writing checks to its citizens to keep the whole thing legal, as there is a ceiling on the amount of taxes that can be collected, similar to the bonuses residents of Alaska receive from the oil industry.
It's that kind of obvious business sense that got Black Market, Siam Square and Thunderbird owner Ed Rudisell to invest in a few West Coast dispensaries. In fact, of all the folks I've met in Indy's food scene, Rudisell's passion for the legalization of responsible marijuana use is paralleled by none. He told me all about the West Coast dispensary culture, where the workers spend a lot of time getting to know you and finding the right strain and the right application, as the variety of THC-laced (or laden) products on the market grows. In fact, Rudisell's experience was that, in states with legalization laws on the books, "the percentage of people smoking flowers is actually pretty low" compared to the entire marijuana market share.
The explosion of the edibles market has created a predictable crossover between food people and weed people. As the "face" of the average marijuana user evolves, so has the complexity of the edibles market, with both flavor and diet restrictions in mind. In that way the hospitality industry and the edibles business have a lot in common.
"I see a lot of parallels between the two," says Rudisell. "There's not necessarily a symbiotic relationship between the two in states that have legalization, but there are similarities, particularly when you're talking about edibles, which is definitely the direction in which legalization states are headed."
It makes sense in the world of baking and candy-making, which, especially in large quantities, is much more of a fine science than a mercurial art. Edible makers have to keep the THC doses consistent as well as the flavor, and bearing in mind consumers with diet restrictions.
"If you're diabetic, you can't just eat a brownie," said Rudisell. Just as restaurants adjust to the needs of their patrons, so do the dispensaries to the needs of their patients.
"I have seen people that were involved in the food business moving over towards artisanal edibles. I compare it to when you see artisanal bakers and candy makers."
Rudisell also sees value in marijuana's sense-heightening ability in terms of discovering new flavors and broadening your palate. Researchers from the Universite de Bordeaux recently discovered that THC binds in just such a way to your olfactory bulb that really does heighten and intensify your sense of smell, which is why food tastes so damn good after the blunt has made a few rounds (hypothetically, in a state where it is legal).
"You're paying a lot more attention," he says. "I think when we eat, we don't really pay that much attention to it, generally. When you really focus on your food—and it sounds pretentious but it's true—you really start to pick up things." Instead, then, of picking up a sack full of Taco Bell's grade D beef and "liquid cheese product," you might consider heading to Saraga to fill a cart with unusual produce, or City Market for something pickled.
It's not just food, either. Your supercharged olfactory bulb might also help you discern more notes in your beverages, too.
'Another world that opens up is wine. Personally, wine is awesome for me," says Rudisell. "You're focused and concentrated and you start noticing things you wouldn't have before. Wine is intimidating, because you'll have a sommelier saying, 'I smell plum, star anise and carbon,' and if you have people who are new to wine, they'll say, 'I smell grapes.' But when your senses are heightened and you're paying more attention, you start to pick up on the different fruits and notes."
But just like alcohol, Rudisell and folks like him are clear that they want access available to all adults — so much so that the movement has largely abandoned the term "recreational use" in favor of the new "adult-use." "'Recreational use' has this tone of partying and being crazy. We want it to be limited to responsible use for people over 21."
Rudisell's dining picks
While the busy restaurateur doesn't get a lot of time off to visit other places around the city, he gave us some good picks for where to find the best dining this 4/20. We ask you, for our part, to either gather supplies before you get lifted, or to have a sober friend give you a lift to these places.
Rudisell reaches for well done comfort food, and no one does it quite as well as Jon Brooks by his estimation (we would agree). "Milktooth. The food's just awesome. Jon Brooks is killing it over there — obviously he doesn't need me to tell him that. He's badass." And in terms of trying something you've never had before, this is the place you'll likely encounter something new, whether it's off the hot line or one of pastry chef Zoe Taylor's sweet or savory creations. Take an Uber and enjoy responsible high dining at its finest.
534 Virginia Ave., 986-5131, milktoothindy.com
Rudisell's favorite munchie from way back? "Pickles, and everyones doing some kind of pickling these days. It's crunchy, it's healthy and it's moist. Fermenti does some cool stuff." Head down to City Market and grab a jar of one of their many amazing offerings, from sauerkraut to good old fashioned dills. Not to mention they have a lot of other things to offer, like kombucha on draft to revive your insides after you betray your own best judgment and eat that sack of fast food burritos anyway.
222 E. Market St., 493-1652, fermentiartisan.com
Another one of the restaurant owner's favorites? Kimchi, specifically made of daikon. "I'm a sucker for fermented kimchi. You get a little bit of funky, and acidity and a little spice. Carlos ferments kimchi as well at Rook." If you want to get a big ol' bucket of the stuff to keep your company on 4/20, the 38th and Lafayette grocery is going to be your best bet. "The difference between natural fermentation and vinegar fermentation is distinct. Sometimes I want something just knock-you-on-your-ass sour. Sometimes I want something a little more subtle." While you're there, grab an armful of dragon fruit, persimmon, or anything else they don't usually carry at Marsh to try while your senses are heightened.
3605 Commercial Dr., 388-9999, saragafood.com
Mass Ave Wine Shoppe
We could send you to any old liquor store to grab a bottle, but this place has all the expertise you need to find the right bottle for you. "If you have people who are new to wine, they'll say, 'I smell grapes.' But when your senses are heightened and you're paying more attention, you start to pick up on the different fruits and notes." Head down and ask for something fruity with a variety of notes, then see how many you can taste and use your high times as an educational experience.
878 Mass Ave., 972-7966, massavewine.com