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Pizza maker ponders adding marijuana to sauce

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(Keith Johnson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The president and CEO of a Pittsburgh-based pizza chain has an idea for a cannabis-infused sauce, but he’s not sure the product will fit his family-oriented business model. File photo.

By Howard Pankratz

The Denver Post

First published Aug 16 2014 06:53PM
Updated Aug 16, 2014 11:03PM

Denver • The president and CEO of a Pittsburgh-based pizza chain has an idea for a cannabis-infused sauce, but he’s not sure the product will fit his family-oriented business model.

Unique Pizza and Subs Corp. CEO Jim Vowler said interest in weed-laced pizza and pizza sauce infused with marijuana extract is especially high in Canada, where courts on Thursday ruled unconstitutional a prohibition on the use of pot-infused foods, salves, oils and creams for medical purposes.

The company’s largest shareholder — who lives in Canada — is interesting in buying the rights to a pot-infused frozen pizza, Vowler said.

This week the company said it was working with Colorado marijuana-infusion chefs to develop a line of cannabis-infused sauces based on Unique Pizza’s recipes.

"It started off as an idea. Would we entertain the idea of doing it? Sure, let’s look into it. You’d have to can the sauce. And so the idea was we’d take our sauce and we add the liquid marijuana into it," Vowler said. "It would have to be canned within the states where it is legal."

Medical marijuana is legal in Canada and in 23 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, and for recreational uses in Colorado and Washington.

But Vowler said the work might not result in a viable product or a product that fits Unique Pizza’s image.

"We’re all about selling good top-quality frozen pizzas," said Vowler, who says he’s never used pot. "This marijuana thing was just kind of a side thing we wanted to look into because of this gentleman in Canada. We are entertaining that idea but again we are certainly family-oriented and I’m not sure if the marijuana pizza fits in our mold or not."

For now, Vowler said, Unique Pizza is focused on expanding its franchise of simple takeout stores and sit-down sports bars to include a line of weed-free microwavable, frozen pizzas for markets in China and India. The company is working on the product with Better Baked Foods.

Howard Pankratz: hpankratz@denverpost.com or twitter.com/howardpankratz

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