Pubdate: Thu, 11 Jun 2015
Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)
Copyright: 2015 Boulder Weekly
Author: Leland Rucker


So I'm on the D train rolling north on Welton Street in Denver when I 
come across a headline that mentions "THC-infused smoked salmon." I'm 
intrigued, since it involves two of my favorite things, and even more 
so when I notice the Huffington Post story is about a place that I 
frequent down the street from where I work.

I step off at the 27th Street exit and into Rosenberg's Deli, which 
opened in Five Points a few months ago, and am introduced to Josh 
Pollack, the owner of the specialty delicatessen which has gotten 
some attention after he and his staff prepared a couple of specially 
smoked salmon pieces for a private 420 celebration back in April. We 
sat down and talked a couple days later.

Pollack said he wanted to have fun and perhaps get some recognition 
in the cannabis community. "From a PR standpoint, it made sense. I 
don't want to be a martyr, but I would happily be a face and 
proponent of the cannabis revolution," Pollack said. "Even my 
93-year-old grandmother thinks it should be legal, and she's a 
staunch Republican hardass who lived through the Great Depression."

Pollack watched his mother use cannabis to help her through 
chemotherapy. "Since my mother used it as medicine and I used it as a 
recreational enjoyment in my teen years and into my adult years, I am 
passionate about it," Pollack said. "As a financially minded guy, I 
was always angered by marijuana being classified the way it was at 
the federal level, the amounts of money we waste criminalizing it, 
and how much good we could be doing spending it elsewhere, but also 
regulating and taxing it like everything else."

Once the attorneys gave the green light, they got to smoking. "A 
couple of our customers have what's called the Smoker's Club Company, 
and they do a lot of PR branding for cannabis companies. So they 
said, 'We have to videotape this.'" That went up on YouTube, and the 
media outlets started coming around.

"The funny part is that the first reaction we got was from Channel 7. 
They called the Health Department, who paid us a visit. At first the 
inspector wouldn't tell me who called them, but they saw the video 
and wanted to come by and make sure there were no cannabis products 
here and that we weren't selling it."

Once they explained what had happened, Pollack said the inspectors 
were intrigued by the concept. But Channel 7 still depicted it as if 
the public might have been "at risk of an unexpected high" or that 
Rosenberg's might have been doing something illegal. "Channel 7 
didn't really have a story, so they came and interviewed us and 
portrayed it in a somewhat negative way.

It was a little disheartening that that happened."

Most media, like the inspectors, were more curious than concerned. 
Denver's Eater food blog picked up on it, and lots more followed. 
Pollack found himself talking with radio interviewers and writers 
from around the country. "Talking on a national level, you realize 
how far ahead we are of everybody else," Pollack admitted. "And 
there's still such a negative stigma about the people who use 
cannabis. 'They're a bunch of lazy stoners, right?' " The staff 
prepared two different fishes, one gravlax, which is salmon that is 
cured but not smoked, covered in lemon and dill, and one of Scottish 
salmon smoked in wood chips and cannabis trim. Pollack said that the 
cannabis taste was mild but certainly detectable. "When I think of an 
edible done perfectly, you can barely taste it. But you want to taste it."

The favorable press has given Pollack hope of moving forward with a 
product, but don't expect to be able to get baked on this salmon 
soon. "We have a lot of work ahead of us. We have to do some lab 
testing and really get the dosage right. That'll be the challenge," 
Pollack said. "Dosing was definitely a little off. Some pieces were 
stronger than others."

When they do have a product ready, Pollack sees it as a specialty 
item available through a select group of dispensaries. "Going forward 
it will only be the gravlax. We haven't done pricing on it yet, but 
you're probably looking at a $20 sandwich which could get two people 
adequately blitzed."

Now that's a lox and bagel worth waiting for.

You can hear Leland discuss his most recent column and Colorado 
cannabis issues each Thursday morning on KGNU.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom