By Samantha Nicholas
Photos by Dan Skye
The kitchen is going full throttle. Vats of chocolate are being cooked, stirred, mixed and melted. Rows of candies are being creamed, stuffed, iced or filled. Across the room, each finished confection is appropriately labeled with its own unique candy wrapper. And that’s your first clue that this is no ordinary chocolate factory.
Stacks of candy bars in a variety of riotous designs are piling up. Check out the labels: Maui Wowie, Chronic, Strawberry Cough. Do I have your attention? Does Hawaiian Snow, Purple Haze or Kief Kat whet your appetite? How about Reefer’s Peanut Butter Cups? Some chocolate bars have been named for cannabis celebrities: You’ve got the Chong bar, the Cheech bar, even the Kyle Kushman bar, named for the former HT cultivation editor. You can also take a massive bite out of George Dubya Kush, which consists of marijuana milk chocolate and almonds. (Nuts might have been a more apt ingredient, but why quibble with success?)
Bliss Confections, the premier producer of marijuana edibles in the US, fills orders for over 4,000 candy bars per week to medical dispensaries throughout California. Bliss has also taken ganja gastronomics to delectable new heights by successfully producing cannabis ice-cream bars, ice-cream toppings, olive spread, salad dressing and microwave popcorn.
There’s a certain sameness to all those business success stories: Some dude gets inspired, makes sacrifices, lays a foundation, gets a taste of success, thinks bigger, goes bigger, gets bigger and—suddenly—the world’s his oyster. It’s no different in the world of cannabis. The brain behind Bliss was first trained as a chef in Las Vegas, received raves for his reefer dishes, moved to Amsterdam to establish a pot-chocolate brand, took third place for Best New Product at the 2003 Cannabis Cup, moved back to California, expanded operations and soon became an underground chocolate-bar star, providing over 50 dispensaries with an outrageous assortment of edible marijuana medicine.
The boss of Bliss resolutely explains that he is providing medical marijuana under the guidelines set forth in Proposition 215, a measure approved by California voters in 1996 that ensures that “seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes.” The law states that those wishing to medicate must secure a doctor’s recommendation. However, in a somewhat contradictory moment, the boss eagerly admits: “If you like marijuana and live in California, chances are you’ve tried a Bliss bar. It’s a novelty item. People buying medicine in dispensaries are attracted by the colorful labels and wacky names. They’ll try them out. Remember, it’s a business like any other. We want people to choose our products. We’ve given away thousands of chocolate bars at cannabis-related events to promote Bliss, and we’ve gained a reputation for the best cannabutter in California.”