Thursday, February 15, 2024

Dining Discoveries: CBD Infusions

While alcohol has been federally legal for decades, cannabis continues to evoke divided opinions. Federally, it is still illegal, while some states like California and New York have legalized it for adult recreation and others, like Florida, have legalized it for medical purposes. To confuse matters more, hemp is related to cannabis but is not illegal, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill that authorized the production and sale of hemp.

The two plants contain a variety of cannabinoids at different levels, including THC and CBD. While THC is a psychoactive substance that can cause that sense of euphoria linked to “feeling high,” CBD offers health benefits to help with inflammation, pain, seizures and anxiety without that side effect. CBD also lives in a legal grey area. If it’s derived from cannabis, it’s still considered a Schedule I illegal substance—BUT if it comes from hemp with less than .3% THC, it’s perfectly acceptable on the federal level.

Lemonade with marijuana

With all that said, CBD-infused food and drinks are all the rage these days. To explain it further, we sat down with Joe Durkin, cannabis expert and co-owner of South Florida Distillers. The South Florida native was drawn to learning the chemistry and science behind cannabis. It’s important to him that infused foods also taste good, so he excels in knowing how to activate, or decarboxylate, the cannabinoids and infusing foods with the proper dosage. (THC is activated when you smoke or vape it, but for food, whether it’s THC or CBD, it needs to be decarboxylated, usually through baking, and then infused.)

Durkin hosts cannabis- and hemp-infused dinner and cocktail parties for locals interested in leveling up their soirees. Partnering with private chefs, he can infuse the menu with THC (only if all diners supply a medical card) or CBD (in Florida it’s legal if derived from hemp). Fair warning: Unlike a welcome drink at a dinner party that contains the same amount of alcohol for each guest, the same doesn’t translate with cannabis. Some bodies will react differently to varying amounts, so using his knowledge to properly dose guests is essential.

For those of us who are CBD novices, Durkin offers some advice:

  • Find a reputable brand. While the internet opens a vast landscape to users, it sometimes is too overwhelming to sift through the garbage to find something authentic and reliable. He suggests going straight to the source by searching for a hemp farm, like Colorado-based Vitality Farms, that grows organically in soil and sells full-spectrum (derived from the whole plant) products with original terpenes (organic compounds). Other brands he recommends include Deerfield Beach-based Green Roads and Colorado-based Dram Apothecary.
  • Figure out how you’re going to use the CBD. If you’re planning on infusing it into food, a distillate is best, but if you want to add a few drops to your tea, coffee or water, go with a tincture.
  • If you’re weary of the .3% THC full-spectrum products can contain, opt for either broad spectrum or isolate. Both don’t have any THC, but the former does have other hemp compounds, while the latter is the purest form of CBD.
  • Always follow local, state and federal regulations.

For more information about the CBD-infused dinners, contact Durkin directly at

This article is from the February 2023 issue of Boca magazine. For more like this, click here to subscribe to the magazine.

Christie Galeano-DeMott
Christie Galeano-DeMott
Christie is a food lover, travel fanatic, bookworm, Francophile, and she believes art in all its forms is good for the soul. When she’s not writing about the incredible dishes, people and places that capture South Florida's culture and vibe, Christie is irresistibly happy in the company of her husband and a glass of red wine.

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