Simon Fraser University is celebrating graduate Garrett Downes, 26, for the cannabis-infused candy business he co-founded while attending classes at the university.
SFU sent Peace Arch News a news release Monday about the “superstar student,” saying the White Rock man – who graduated the next day – has carved a niche in the marijuana business.
One of the class assignments in the business program was to form an entrereneurial idea then test it in the real world.
Downes teamed with Jeff Salzsauler, a trained chocolatier, and two other students. Together, they came up with the idea to create cannabis-infused chocolates.
There was one problem, selling and manufacturing cannabis-infused anything is illegal. The group wanted to continue with the idea, but legally, so they sought a lawyer’s advice.
“The way we keep our hands clean is we never physically touch the THC… We’re just trying to be squeaky clean,” Downes told PAN Wednesday.
His company, Stolz Chocolates, supplies marijuana manufacturers with the tools and skills necessary for creating cannabis-infused chocolates, candy and coffee, according to the SFU news release. The consultation company sources equipment and provides training, support and recipes.
“We ended up signing a client instantly,” Downes said. “I can’t say who it is just because of liability, but a big player in the Canadian market.”
To create the recipes, Downes said the company experiments with no THC. It’s up to the producer, he said, to add THC extract during the production process.
Downes said the company’s clients are required to sign a contract that gives Stolz royalties of the candy sales.
The Stolz Chocolates website says: “Stolz makes chocolate cannabis edibles of unparalleled taste, class and quality. Stolz cannabis edibles are made in small batches by expert chocolatiers, and feature industry leading dosage control and socially responsible manufacturing and packaging methods.”
Downes said the website was created before he spoke to lawyers regarding the legality of selling pot candy, noting he hasn’t looked at it in over a year and plans to edit it.
He referred PAN to the website of Piva Concepts Ltd., which is Stolz’s parent.
“The whole point of the way we’re doing it right now is simply one purpose – don’t break any laws.”
Although the federal government announced plans to legalize pot next year, little has been decided in the way of edibles.
Some argue that cannabis-infused edibles – candies, chocolates, brownies, cookies – appeal to younger consumers, and may lead to accidental consumption by children.
Downes is confident that edibles will be allowed into the market once legalization hits, but he estimated that legislation of edibles won’t be added until six months to a year after pot is on the shelves.
“If there’s measurable evidence that legalization wasn’t harmful as a whole to the society, and yet it generated a bunch of tax revenue, then it’s a lot easier to make people feel better about bringing in edibles,” he said.
Downes said “the minute” Canada legalizes the selling and production of marijuana edibles, his company will start manufacturing and selling the cannabis-infused treats.
“It’s tricky because I can’t even set it up beforehand. I can’t set something up that’s not 100 per cent legal,” he said.
Last year, the Stolz Chocolates team took home three prizes in SFU’s 2016 Opportunity Fest, including first in their category, the People’s Choice award and the Mr. Entrepreneur award.