The Sweet Taste of Healing: Jelly Belly’s David Klein Finds His Calling in Cannabis

The inventor of Jelly Belly, David Klein, has embarked on a new adventure: CBD-infused jelly beans.
The Sweet Taste of Healing: Jelly Belly's David Klein Finds His Calling in Cannabis
Brent Hofacker/ Shutterstock

David Klein’s claim to fame is his invention of one of the world’s most beloved candy, the Jelly Belly; but his sweet disposition is his trademark and his sincere desire to help others, his legacy.

No longer connected to the historic bean he created in 1976, this past year he launched his own line of CBD (cannabidiol) infused jelly beans, with flavors to rival the candy that made him famous.

“All the good I’ve done for people comes back in spades,” he shares. “I’m so thrilled to be in this culture that embraces and cares about other people. The cannabis industry is definitely a greater good community, and I’ve been instantly welcomed into the fold.”

Over the years he’s been asked to create a cannabis infused bean, either with or without the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) that causes the high, or psychoactive response, but he declined due to the legalities.

With CBD only now legal across the country, and the promise of no jail time, the space was opened up for his creations. But, it took an accident involving his wife and a fall to get him fully onboard.

“My wife Rebecca and I were in a hotel near Colorado Springs, and she slipped 25 feet off a patio that wasn’t level,” he explained. “The pain was tremendous. We visited a dispensary in Trinidad, Colorado, and bought some cookies with THC. When I saw how much it helped her level of pain, I was helped to get on board, and the CBD bean idea began.”

Klein admitted that he has never done drugs – he’s never smoked cigarettes, let alone cannabis – never had a sip of alcohol, never experimented with street drugs of any kind. His introduction to cannabis and THC via his wife’s fall was a learning moment.

“People who use cannabis are forward thinkers,” he said. “You have to think out of the box when it comes to this subject, because the Federal Government is still insisting there is no medicinal value. All I know is that it helped my wife with that nasty fall.”

Since launching the CBD infused jelly beans, Klein said he’s been contacted by many people all over the country with real ailments, all helped with the use of cannabis in some form, be it with or without the high from THC.

Known for creating exceptional flavors with Jelly Belly, his current line of 38 flavors with 10 milligrams of CBD in each bean is no exception. And he says he has plans to create even more unique flavors.

His line of Spectrum™ Jelly Beans and Sour Jelly Beans are sweetened via a powdered sugar-like dextrose to mask the flavor. Dextrose is a type of sugar made from corn, similar to fructose and chemically identical to glucose; with dextrose used by doctors to raise a patient’s blood sugars when low.

His Spectrum™ Sugar-Free Jelly Beans are dusted with maltitol, a sugar made from alcohol. Other similar alternatives would be plant-based stevia, agave, and coconut.

“The taste of cannabis has to be masked,” he explained. “What better way to mask the flavor than in a jelly bean!”

The Sweet Taste of Healing: Jelly Belly's David Klein Finds His Calling in Cannabis
Courtesy of Sharon Letts

Concerns of sugary cannabis products disguised as remedy are hotly criticized by many, with bans on kid-friendly designs shunned. But that line of thinking also ignores an entire demographic of cannabis patients who’d rather eat a piece of candy than take a pill.

Case in point is Primrose Engaged Living center in Santa Rosa, California. It’s a private facility specializing in the care of patients with Parkinson’s, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. There, the patients are allowed to use cannabis as a remedy, with permission from their private doctor and families.

“Dementia patients don’t really like to take pills,” explained Dan O’Brien, RN. “It’s easier for them to eat a piece of candy. We give them 15 milligrams of an infused chocolate bar with THC after dinner. The patients given the candy are more alert, less agitated, and are able to sleep through the night. It also quells tremors associated with Parkinson’s and anxiety disorders.”

Children on the Autistic Spectrum, suffering from disorders such as ADD or ADHD helped by CBD, also want candy over pills.

Shelly Matthews’ is a medical cannabis refugee from Ohio, now living in California. Her son, Robert, was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) and Bi-Polar Disorder at 11. While still in Ohio, she began making him cookies covertly, with results too good to ignore.

“He’d eat one before school, and the staff asked me what changed, as it really calmed him down” she shared. “I just told them we changed his meds and left it at that. They said the new meds wore off by lunchtime. If I would have had infused candy available I would have given it to him, without hesitation.”

Today, Robert is 23 and still medicating via ingesting edibles and smoking dabs, with continued success in treating his disorders.

Jamie Cooper is the founder and CEO of Cannabiz Connection, a networking platform for the industry in Michigan. Her six year old son, Kylan, was diagnosed at the age of four on the Autistic Spectrum, with a Sensory Processing and Development Delay.

“I give him infused CBD in a gummy – it’s definitely the easiest way to dose him,” she shared. “We treat it like a vitamin. We’ve used the gummy bear type candy before, and I really don’t see an issue. The package is secure – we keep it in a safe place just like any other medicine.”

Education is key in treating anyone with cannabis infused products, and Jamie agrees that understanding the plant and how it heals is half the battle. Once you are helped with cannabis – CBD only or THC activated, it becomes more difficult to criticize the delivery if the outcomes are positive.

As for Klein, he feels that cannabis is God’s plant, and everything he’s done up until this point – including his success with the Jelly Belly – has brought him to this place of helping others.

“I’m more excited about this product than any other candy I’ve ever made,” he joyously shared. “It’s something to help mankind – and that gives me the motivation to go forward. I was born to make jelly beans, and if they heal people, so much the better.”

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