Vancouver’s Mega ILL cafe is making headlines this week for its pot-positive vibes and pot-infused pies. Said to be the city’s first “pizzeria-cum-vapor lounge”, the cafe is, as owner Mark Klokeid explained to CTV News last month, a “pot friendly” establishment where patrons are encouraged to BYOC (“Bring Your Own Cannabis”) and can smoke vaporizers provided for free by the cafe.
This is just one of many steps seen worldwide indicating the social acceptance of cannabis. With Uruguay legalizing its sale at $1 a gram, weed-oriented classical music performances in Colorado, and the consideration of a “coffee shop” in Berlin, it really isn’t overly shocking that a weed-themed restaurants sprang up.
According to the Vancouver Sun, hungry patrons who are over 18, and have a medical marijuana card, can also order a “medicated pizza,” which is drizzled with oil extracted from cannabis before being cooked.
Klokeid said he wanted to do something different in a city known for its pot subculture. So he decided he’d create a place for medical marijuana users to light up, and then chow down.
“There are already vapor lounges and other lounges around town,” Klokeid told CTV News of the idea behind Mega ILL. “So I figured, why not match that with pizza?“
The story behind Mega Ill, as told by Klokeid, began with his own mega-illness: stage 4 cancer. He was given a death sentence after being diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma 10 years ago, and was looking at leaving behind a four-year-old daughter. He got through chemo therapy and a bone marrow transplant, the side effects, and ensuing problems with Type 1 diabetes with the help of cannabis, he says.
“It’s safer than alcohol or sugar,” Klokeid says. “Have you ever heard of anyone dying from marijuana?”
Klokeid, a cancer survivor, is a medical marijuana user himself. “I need it regularly and I continue to get anti-cancer benefits. I don’t use any other pain medication,” he told the Sun, adding that he had wanted his restaurant to be a place where people like him could “vaporize and get a healthy meal.”
Mega Ill opened in December and the owners are serious marijuana advocates, especially of its medical benefits.
Klokeid said that marijuana allowed him to sleep, heal, and find relief from pain when he was fighting for his life. “My daughter was definitely an inspiration for me to want to live,” he says. “Cannabis has been shown to shrink tumors and cancer cells in multiple studies. I had cancer in the bone marrow, and tumors in the neck and head.”
Klokeid has constant pain in his feet (neuropathy), and is prescribed 20 grams of cannabis a day. “I need it regularly and I continue to get anti-cancer benefits. I don’t use any other pain medication.”
He had visited a cannabis-pizzeria when travelling in Cambodia a few years ago and thought, ‘why not in Vancouver?’ He is also president and part-owner of “I Medicate Society”, a marijuana dispensary where clients can book appointments with a naturopath.
Anthony Risling (from the Riesling grape family, except with a dropped ‘e’), a fellow activist, also uses cannabis for pain management. Over a year ago, he suffered a ruptured patella while traveling in China. He had an operation and was hospitalized for 6 days in China, he was unable to walk for two months. His doctor recommended cannabis as a safe option, and it eased his pain.
”Mark and I are both activists,” he says. “We’re trying to legalize marijuana, help patients, inform and educate people with proper knowledge and negate the misconceptions. It had bad connotations but they’re finding when ingested, it significantly helps different people in different ways.”
As far as pizzas go, it seems Mega ILL has gone above and beyond in trying to make its pies healthier than most restaurant varieties. Said to be made with mostly organic and local ingredients, the pizza at the cafe boasts a crust made with whole wheat, hemp hearts (which are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids), and oatmeal flour.
Jesse Sindayen, Mega Ill Pizzeria chef: “I’ve worked in the service industry for many years, but people who come here are like none other. There’s such unity and it’s so peaceful. People take their masks off. They come in and feel right away like they’re home. It’s that kind of vibe.“
(Watch) First marijuana oil-infused pizza shop opens in Vancouver
Klokeid said he’d like to see the restaurant become a tourist attraction. But, if laws keep catching up with public opinion: the need to travel for such a treat may decrease.
“We want to have places for them to come visit,” he said. “And establishments like this are a safe way for people to enjoy life.“