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Cannabis Spotlight: Liv Vasquez

Today's cannabis spotlight features Liv Vasquez, an award winning cannabis chef, educator, and author based in Portland, Oregon.

What kind of expertise do you need to have as a CBD and cannabis-infused chef?

As a cannabis chef and event planner, personally I put so much thought into the experience of my guests. Usually at my events I am planning for everything that my guest will touch, taste, hear, see, smell, and learn. I have worked in experiential dining for over 20 years and I've worked in the cannabis industry as an educator on both the medical and recreational side for about 8 years. I put a lot of forethought into the sourcing of not only cannabis and hemp but also my food.

For events like CBD summer camp we went to one of my favorite hemp farms where guests slept on the farm, smoked cannabis and hemp from the farm, ate foraged food from the farm, talked to the people who worked the farm, and got to try the products that the hemp on that farm went into.

My menus are designed for optimal cannabinoid absorption, and I have taken years to study and understand the endocannabinoid system. The more legality we get all over the world the more research we get so I feel like I'm constantly updating the knowledge that I have around the complexities of absorption and cultivation methods that impact the products that we have available.

This isn't really the approach that I see every cannabis chef taking but I think it's important that we understand absorption and infusion before we serve the masses. It just makes for a better edibles experience for everyone.

How much potential do you see for cannabis infused foods and events?

I think that in the time of COVID, events in general have a big question mark over them. But I do see more and more people gathering at home, or taking trips with close friends and family. I have been doing more caterings for group getaways in the last year, as well as collaborating with hotels to do in-room service. A lot of us have spent at least one or two birthdays in quarantine, so I think the group get away to celebrate is going to be a lot more popular than it was before. Working in cannabis events prior to COVID we had to be creative about how we put on events, and I think that now we just have to be creative in a completely different way.

Why is education so necessary in the cannabis industry today?

There is a lot of misinformation out there, and a lot of CBD and cannabis brands that profit off of misinformation. So I think that education and information surrounding the endocannabinoid system, cultivation, and absorption should all be from sources that are not brands. Having branded educational materials means that they are biased. As someone who recommends products all the time, I think it's more important now than ever to look into the ethics of brands that you use regularly, and read information and research that has come out in the last 5 yrs.

Cannabis is a prehistoric plant that we have only recently gotten more information about so we should really take advantage of the information that's out there. And for cannabis chefs like myself I think that it's our responsibility to understand how we are infusing things and how our guests are absorbing them. And we will get that information from lab results, research, and some anecdotal research. So we have to take all of it into consideration.

How do smokables and edibles offer different types of cannabis experiences for consumers?

The absorption is completely different between the two. Smokables you are absorbing in your mouth and your lungs, while edibles have to go through a digestion process. So it's important that you consider what you are eating and how you digest those types of foods even if they have cannabinoids in them.

What are particular growth areas you see for the cannabis industry in the next five years?

I think that education is going to be a big point of interest. On the recreational level, the excitement around simply having access has died down a bit and now people want to focus on what they like. It's kind of like everyone turned 21 around the same time, have had enough of the well cocktails, and now they want to upgrade their preferences. So we may see more attention to craft.

In particular this year in Oregon our limits for how much cannabis you can purchase per day is going up, so we might see more people leaning into making their own edibles and tinctures or having a craft cannabis bar in their home.

More About Liv:

Liv Vasquez is a chef and cannabis educator with a mission to help people develop a clearer understanding of Cannabis as a plant and industry in beautiful spaces. Liv travels the country hosting beautiful and magical popup events that act as a classroom for her to teach and answer questions about Cannabis in depth.

Her audience spans the globe and ranges from home cooks and grandmas who want to incorporate plant medicine into their lives to corporations like Pepsi that want to add CBD to their products. Liv has been called the "Alton Brown" of cannabis, because she has a clear understanding of the science, strain heritage, plant cultivation, and ethics, as well as medicine and digestion.

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