If you dined out at a restaurant this weekend, chances are "high" that you engaged in illegal activity without even knowing it.

My wife and I went restaurant hopping this weekend. It was a rare night out alone, so we decided to make the best of it, ordering some drinks, dinner and dessert. The last thing we expected was to be involved in illegal activity.

Illegal Food Items on Hudson Valley Restaurant Menus

The night we decided to go out to eat just so happened to be April 20, which everyone knows is the annual stoner celebration known as 4/20. Now that recreational marijuana is legal in New York, the holiday has hit the mainstream so it wasn't surprising that local restaurants would want to get in on the action too.

Fishkill, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh Restaurants

While it's now perfectly acceptable to head to a dispensary and grab some edibles or flowers, Saturday was the first time I ever saw THC-infused food on a restaurant's menu and there's actually a good reason for that; it's illegal.

No state in the country, not even New York, allows restaurants to sell dishes that include THC. There are many reasons for this, the main one being that it's almost impossible for customers to know the source of the THC and just how much is included in the dish.

Regardless of what the law says, one of the restaurants I went to had a complete selection of 4/20 items that included some special pot desserts. As the server placed the menu in front of us, I found it odd that these intoxicating selections were not included on the list. Instead, the server rattled them off, explaining that they were special treats just for tonight.

When I inquired just how much THC the desserts included I was shocked when she said 20mg. Anyone who knows about recreational marijuana knows that 20mg will get you seriously high.

While this was a well-known and trusted Hudson Valley restaurant, I was a bit uneasy ordering a pot-infused dish. I had no idea what the source of the THC was, what kind of strain it was or just how concentrated it would be after being cooked into the dish. So I opted for a straightedge dessert and we headed off to another bar for some drinks.

That's where I wound up breaking the law.

Poughkeepsie, Fishkill, Newburgh

Illegal Drinks on Hudson Valley Bar Menus

At the next location, I was perusing the beer menu when I came across a listing for a THC-infused lemonade. Ayrloom is a New York company that supplies legal dispensaries with edibles, vapes, tinctures and beverages. They make a lemonade that is not only delicious but includes a manageable 5mg of THC. Because the seltzer is a New York-sanctioned Ayrloom lemonade in a factory-sealed container that clearly spells out the THC content, I figured I would give it a shot.

Little did I know that that was also illegal.

New York State does not allow any business to serve cannabis products for public consumption except licensed dispensaries. That means that bars are explicitly prohibited from selling THC-infused drinks, even if they purchase them legally.

I don't know whether I would have ordered the drink or not if I knew it was against the law, but the fact that it was illegally offered without my knowledge made me feel taken advantage of.


While the rollout of New York's new marijuana laws has been a disaster, I'm still a huge advocate of legalization. We need more dispensaries and fewer black market dealers selling unregistered products. But that's not going to happen if everyone just starts breaking the law. Bars and restaurants playing by their own rules are only going to make it harder for legal businesses to compete.

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While I'm sure many people were excited to see the THC items on the menu this weekend, I prefer supporting the new, legal dispensaries that have opened up throughout the Hudson Valley. The more successful they are, the sooner we can all legally enjoy some safe and regulated stoner desserts at our favorite restaurants.

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