By Michael Liss, Esq.
The inevitability of Florida adopting adult-use and the inevitability of the federal government rescheduling and/or de-scheduling cannabis (neither imminent, yet each inevitable) make apparent that such legalization will impact each of our lives, the economy and our roles within the economy. Few professions will be impacted more than the legal profession. The life of a lawyer and the practice of law will be fundamentally and positively transformed. Let us explore how another industry (restaurant) will be impacted by legalization of cannabis.
Until now, most restaurants could only stay profitable by selling alcohol. What the restaurant world has always feared about cannabis legalization is a world of carryout and delivery orders, and people who cook, eat and entertain at home instead of having cocktails and a meal at a restaurant. This perpetual industry fear is ever-more present in the age of Millennials and Delivery Dudes. It’s already happening. How will restaurants adapt to legalized cannabis?
Many restauranteurs will become profitable by adapting and adopting cannabis. Expect restaurants with large kitchens and limited seating due to the decreasing number of sit-in diners, and increasing numbers of carryout and delivery orders. The state Department of Health will regulate restaurants which will offer cannabis-infused foods and beverages. One can envision changes in the zoning of these establishments; perhaps from restaurant to “entertainment venue”, which might impact the areas in any city in which such food establishments are open to the public. Expect more bans after legalization than exist now with a small medical cannabis program.
In Florida, where outdoor leisure is year-round, laws will be enacted which will allow for smoking and vaping at food establishments. Restaurants will pay a premium for every square inch of patio and outdoor bar where patrons can smoke and vape while they converse and have cocktails, edibles and other bites. Anticipating more and better testing for impairment, and given the trend away from automobile ownership by Gen Z and Millennials, one can envision many competing rideshare offerings and other alternatives to personal car use, which transport patrons to and from the venue. Venues might provide the transportation each way.
Once there exists a completely legal market which is horizontal, profit and taxes will be generated at every turn. Envision this scenario: A company owns a farm. It leases plots to a number of growers, each of which cultivates cannabis. The growers hire employees to tend to the growing product and then harvest the cannabis. The growers will contract with purchasers ahead of the harvest or will bring product to market. The purchaser may be a market-maker or wholesaler which warehouses product. The purchaser may be an extractor (either for its own products or to sell to a manufacturer). The purchaser may be a retailer which processes and packages its own products. Whether the product is stored or immediately processed, other economic players enter the chain of commerce. Packaging companies will receive deliveries from extractors and then the product will move on to a retailer, a distributor or directly to customers. Jobs generated at every turn and taxes generated at every turn.
Not only will restaurants find new ways to survive and thrive with cannabis, many businesses which service restaurants will find ways to profit and pay taxes by adding cannabis to their businesses. Imagine Amazon Prime delivering your favorite strain the next day, with no delivery charge. We may well see competition with Amazon for this reason alone, perhaps Cann-azon for all things cannabis. And for restaurants, a food distribution company will deliver heirloom strains, concentrates for infusion and everything else needed for a restaurant in the cannabis economy.
As we march toward the inevitable legalization of cannabis on all levels, enthusiasts who are also entrepreneurs are considering where to “plant their flag” once legalization on all levels is a reality. It is hoped that the reader can ponder ways to adapt their business profitably in the changing landscape by reading about changes which may transpire in the restaurant industry. Hopefully the reader can envision how legalization will impact their industry or place in the economy as it buds through the economy. Everyone has good reasons to look forward to that inevitable day.
Michael Liss, Esq. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (561) 981-2507, located in Boca Raton.