Meet the Chic Cannabis Chocolatier Who Will Change the Way You Think About Edibles

Article by Eviana Hartman, Vogue

The appeal of chocolate gifts, as Forrest Gump once reasoned, is clear-cut: From the what’s-inside-the-box factor to the anticipation of surprise flavor profiles, you never know what you’re going to get. And with recreational or medical cannabis now legal—or, at least, in the process of becoming so—in 28 states and the District of Columbia, that truism has never felt truer. For pot chocolate is not only tasty, but also perhaps the most mysterious and rewarding of experiential holiday presents: an hours-long pleasure trip for body and mind.

Yet while some enthusiasts view the experience as a form of vice, for many others, it’s purely virtuous. While large-scale, long-term scientific studies are lacking due to marijuana’s federal status as a Schedule I substance, its effectiveness as a pain reliever in particular shows clinical promise, and edibles specifically—due to their body-focused effects—can be used to alleviate insomnia, anxiety, and pain caused by everything from injuries to chronic conditions such as endometriosis and Crohn’s disease. (They’ve even been touted as a nonaddictive alternative to benzodiazepines and opioids.)

“Sure, some people just want to get high, but a lot of people really need cannabis as a medicine,” says Vanessa Lavorato, the Los Angeles–based confiseuse behind Marigold Sweets and the resident culinary expert on Viceland’s new cannabis cooking show Bong Appetit. “Chocolates are another vehicle to help them get their medicine—a spoonful of sugar.” Yet many of the trustworthy candies on the market—that is, those marked with dosage guidelines and divided into portions unlikely to necessitate hospitalization—convey about as much charm as a Snickers.

“It’s like the difference between Steve Madden and Chanel,” says Lavorato, who, with her heart-shaped face and Linda Evangelista haircut, embodies something of the elegance of the latter—as do her organic, fair-trade, handmade, lovely-as-flowers bonbons, spiked with richly aromatic, solvent-free plant extracts sourced from a consortium of permaculture farmers in Humboldt County. Vegan dark chocolate cardamom-coconut caramels sprinkled with matcha salt and maple-sweetened toffee bars nestled in keepsake tins, to name two flavors, look every bit as pleasant as they taste—and make the recipient (Lavorato likes to use the word “patient”) feel.

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