On November 1, 2018 the United Kingdom legalized medical marijuana treatments and hemp CBD products. This new market opens the door to a multitude of business opportunities and many people didn’t waste any time and immediately jumped on the green wave.
Two hours away from London and only a few blocks away from the sea, on a small and bustling street in the historic quarter of Brighton in South England, The Canna Kitchen, which opened in December 2018, is the first vegan and vegetarian cannabis-infused restaurant in the U.K.
The air was thick with humidity and the wind from the sea blew fiercely. As I left the noise and congestion of the street and step in, I immediately felt relaxed. Pastel tones, wooden details on the wall, and an elegant interior decor style made the atmosphere of The Canna Kitchen warm and welcoming. Head Chef Charlotte Kjaer welcomed me at the door with a smile and introduced me to Sam Evolution, the founder and manager of The Canna Kitchen.
On a mission to change the way people perceive the plant, Sam and his team focus on high quality, healthy, and creative dishes that can all be infused with cannabis according to the client’s desires.
“I want to create something special,” Kjaer said. “I like to combine natural flavors and aromas of the plant with different types of food. I want to transmit the passion I have for this wonderful plant through my creations.”
Kjaer knows well the multiple beneficial properties of cannabis.
“Everybody is talking about CBD now but we also cook with other cannabinoids as CBG (cannabigerol) and CBN (cannabinol),” she continued.
We sat down and ordered, while sipping some hemp tea. I went for a Canna Sandwich—a harissa-spiced organic tofu or chickpea and tofu sandwich on locally-baked sourdough with homemade hummus and CBD-infused tahini cream, served with a seasonal salad. Following the chef’s suggestion, I also tried the Lean Greens (tempura green beans, hemp & hazelnut dukkah, CBD tahini cream, pomegranate and parsley) and the Smoked & Curled (carrot “lox”, hemp and buckwheat blinis with CBD-infused dill coconut cream cheese, cultured beetroot, pickled red onion and crispy capers).
“Our mission is to change the way people think about the cannabis plant by creating beautiful vegetarian dishes which are tastefully complemented with its infusion. Cannabis is a highly nutritious, versatile, and powerful herb; it is packed full of flavor, fragrance, and natural therapeutic benefit.” Kjaer said.
The food was finished as fast as it arrived. Everything was delicious, the dishes beautifully presented and extremely light on the stomach—a real treat.
We then moved upstairs to the dispensary and cozy lounge section. Enjoying a CBD joint while sipping infused Moroccan coffee or Earl Grey tea on the terrace with friends is a must on sunny days. The dispensary offers a wide range of items, from vaporizers to skin-care products, to pet food and a variety of herbs, all with THC levels below 0.2%.
The laws around cannabis use have become increasingly more relaxed after high profile cases have helped change attitudes on the drug, especially after cases like that of Billy Caldwell, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy and had been granted an emergency licence allowing him to be treated with medical marijuana after his cannabis oil from Canada was seized at Heathrow Airport last year, generating a huge popular outcry.
“The public response to the restaurant has been very good,” said Evolution “People are curious towards the plant and we want to spark a larger conversation around it, inform the public.”
After seeing the age-range of clients, spanning from 4 years old to over 60, I could not disagree with it.
“I feel that eventual decriminalization is inevitable, it’s just a matter of time. I would like to see a great deal of education brought forward in relation to the responsible use of, not only cannabis, but all plant medicines, which are here to help us. I think The Canna Kitchen will most certainly lead the way for many more concepts like it in the UK. I have learned about Jeremy Corbyn’s son opening a hemp cafe in north London, we are extremely excited about this, and needless to say he has our full support on this project. It’s an exciting time for hemp/cannabis, which is being bought back into mainstream recognition, where it belongs,” he concluded.