/ 28 April 2020

The Portfolio: 4.20 Delights Baker

Graphic Fri Sweeties Twitter
(John McCann/ M&G)

In about 2015, I was working in another country and it was frustrating that you couldn’t access cannabis. When I returned, I felt it would be great to eat cannabis or use it in a more discreet way. 

Edibles seemed the way to go. Infused chocolates, brownies, lollipops and sweets — those were the first goodies I experimented with.

I didn’t have a baking background. I played around with recipes until I figured out how to achieve infusion. It was trial and error because of the dosage and flavour aspects. It was an underground culture and you had to know who to ask. 

The amount of cannabis you are allowed to cultivate for personal use has not been stipulated as yet and this makes it tricky to grow enough to supply a business. It’s either you grow your own or buy from the black market.

CBD (cannabidiol) cannabis products are legal, but all trade is prohibited unless you have a license or permit or are in partnership, share-cropping with a licensed holder and the site falls under government protocol. If you want to cultivate CBD plants (hemp) or extract CBD oil for medicinal use this is the only way to access that legally. The government exerts a lot of control and influence on cultivation and sale of approved medical products. 

This is why many of us entrepreneurs in the informal sector rely on the black market because the restrictions are based on old colonial laws — the prohibition of cannabis was actually effected to introduce the dop system. It was more economically viable for colonialists to get people dependent on alcohol. 

Legalisation is  a layered battle, so we win small victories along the way. It takes a toll on you because the pharmaceutical companies are the ones poised to benefit the most from it.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound in cannabis, is still  illegal to trade in but the purchase of CBD products is legal. To extract or cultivate  CBD, you have to work through the government regulations and protocol and this requires that you have a licence, not to mention land. 

Sadly, this is out of our reach as local cannabis entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who believe in the healing powers of the plant. There are a lot of contradictions, and we are mostly removed from the equation of growing cannabis in a financially viable way.  

To be safe, my business marketing is by word of mouth and references. Openly advertising products can lead to legal implications, so I had to revert to more discreet methods. This is unfortunate because if guidelines (such as responsible use and dosages) were provided, this market could potentially boost our economy and provide healing to our nation, especially during times of distress. The edibles market could even influence the future of food if we follow and learn from existing cannabis business models in more progressive countries. 

I make traditional edibles like cookies, and more health conscious ones like vegan brownies, but I bake according to customers’ preferences. Some people are finicky about what flavours they like. Some prefer the flavour of the cannabis in the product; others want the flavour of the dominant ingredient with an underlying cannabis flavour.

There are two sides to the lockdown. The first is that people are paranoid about their food because you can’t see the virus. But, at the same time, people are looking for calm and the edibles provide that. Right now the requests are not that high for edibles,mainly because people are stretched financially and focusing more on essential needs. 

With the level four lockdown approaching, I am using the time to find innovative and creative solutions to distribute edibles, as well as providing information about the health benefits of cannabis-infused goods and the plant itself.