Chris Sayegh is a 24-year-old chef who has found a niche in the world of cannabis. He established a business that combines food and the controversial drug.

His company, the Herbal Chef, offers a variety of food services catering to both the medical and recreational needs of marijuana users, but his most popular service involves private dinners.

People pay upward of $500 each to indulge in a 12- to 15-course dinner infused with cannabis.

He describes these luxury dinners as “cerebral experiences” meant to introduce more than just a high, although scientists advise dining with caution.

“There is music setting a tone. There is terpene (plant) extracts in my centerpieces that are creating an aroma. There is art everywhere that is creating and stimulating conversation. So now it becomes an immersive experience where you are present in the dining experience,” Sayegh said.

weedtran5Sayegh prides himself on selecting organic ingredients native to the region where he is cooking.

The locations for these dinners vary, but most are held in private homes in states where either recreational or medical marijuana is legal. He says he complies with state laws and has all dinner participants fill out a questionnaire on their marijuana tolerance. In states like California, where only medical marijuana is legal, he requires clients to have a medical marijuana card.

He says the only common denominator among the diners is a search for a new experience.

“I get people fresh out of college; I get people for their anniversary; I get people who are huge into the dab (concentrated cannabis) culture; I get people who are corporate, who just want to have a new experience. … There is no similarities other than they love good food and they want to try a new experience.”

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. It’s no surprise businesses like the Herbal Chef have learned to monetize and create new ways to use it. Sayegh, who says he has a medical marijuana card, is among the first to combine culinary training and experience at Michelin-starred restaurants in New York and California with a personal appreciation for cannabis.

“I was a student at UC Santa Cruz studying molecular cell biology, and I chose to go into the cannabis field because all of my studies were basically looking at the cognitive function of the brain on cannabis. What happens? I was telling myself, ‘if I am going to smoke every day, then I might as well know what I am putting in my body,’ ” said Sayegh.

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