Looking for a new way to chill? Consider going on that trip you've always wanted to take to Italy, where you can visit Perleco - a gelato parlor in the northern coastal town of Alassio. The shop features a marijuana-flavored gelato named Marley in honor of a certain reggae legend.
But don't widen your waistline hoping to get high. Marley is flavored with hemp seeds that only contain trace amounts of THC. Recreational marijuana use is strictly prohibited in Italy, so you'll have to settle for the taste instead of the full effect on your trip.
But Aldo de Michelis - who co-created the flavor with his son Mauro and wife Emanuela Baudana - says the treat has other, more therapeutic effects. Indeed, he created the marijuana gelato as a health food:
"I'm a runner and I love competing in marathons," says Aldo de Michelis. "But I am a vegetarian too. Therefore I needed food rich in protein to replace meat. Cannabis is one. That's how I started using extra-virgin cannabis oil and similar products, and how the idea of this gelato flavor came about."
A sorbet is in the works, so vegans will probably have an option on the menu soon. Meanwhile, other stores in Alassio have started offering cannabis-flavored extra-virgin cannabis oil, cannabis liquor and pizzas. Michelis hopes the fad will have lasting social effects:
"Time has come for Italy to rediscover the versatility of this plant, including its medical and, why not, recreational use," says Michelis. "Initiatives like [these] can help people understand that cannabis is not just a drug....Things are changing in Italy. People and institutions have a more open approach to cannabis, but in some sectors the resistance is still strong."
Those sectors are likely under the influence of the Catholic church. Pope Francis is adamantly opposed to recreational marijuana use. However, he does seem to have a gelato flavor named after him:
So maybe the cool dessert can help soften the church's stance on marijuana.