When medical marijuana activist Jessica LeRoux stopped by the new Quixote's True Blue location near the University of Denver a couple of months ago, she was just checking out her friend's new digs. Now, she's serving up CBD-infused pizza and panini sandwiches for concert-goers at Jay Bianchi's Deadhead venue.
"I never dreamt of opening a pizza restaurant — the place just came with a pizza oven," she explains. "Planning is overrated. I just came to support Jay on his opening day, but, hey, it had vent hoods." So LeRoux took her last $600 and began stocking up on ingredients and cooking utensils, then opened Althea's Cheese by Design "in honor of the Grateful Dead song."
One of the ingredients is particularly noteworthy: CBD. A compound of cannabis and hemp, cannabidiol has exploded over the past three years as federal roadblocks are removed and Americans become more educated about cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, but is still known for its anti-inflammatory and pain-reliving properties; users also report that CBD can help with sleep and anxiety. If derived from hemp, CBD can be legally sold as a food supplement. As a result, across the country, coffee shops, massage studios and smoke shops are selling CBD oils and isolates for an extra shot of wellness.
But this could be the first pizza joint in Denver to incorporate CBD. LeRoux, who used to own a medical marijuana edibles company, is no stranger to infused foods. She says she's not taking any shortcuts with concentrated CBD isolate, instead using whole plant matter for natural terpenes and plant compounds. Customers can add a ten- or fifteen-milligram (approximately) shot of CBD to their sandwich or slice of pizza for $2.
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Despite the CBD boom around Colorado, LeRoux says that DU students haven't shown much interest in it. "Kids aren't eating anything. They're all out of their heads on Adderall," she says. "As soon as I say it won't get you high, the interest in the conversation is usually done. Do you really think I'm going to get you high for $2?"
LeRoux was advocating for medical marijuana patients and caregivers long before recreational pot shops opened, showing up at the State Capitol and Marijuana Enforcement Division meetings to question lawmakers and other officials. Despite her passion for the plant, she's careful not to make too many claims about CBD's health benefits, which are still disputed by the Food and Drug Administration. But she still has plenty to say.
"It's a neuroprotectant for your brain and liver," she points out. "If you're drinking, get a slice of CBD to maybe offset your hangover tomorrow. It might give you a better night's sleep, slightly less anxiety or help you study better on a test."
Althea's Cheese by Design is open from 5 to 11 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Quixote's True Blue, 2014 South University Boulevard, 720-576-0137.