Marijuana edibles could be in the future for Middletown's North End bakery as the co-owner of Fairfield-based Greenbelt Management is looking into the possibility of collaborating with NoRA Cupcake Co.in creating medical cannabis-infused treats.
Carrie Carella, owner of NoRA Cupcake Co., said Jason Nickerson, who runs the company with his brother Matthew Nickerson, approached her last week with the idea. But she wouldn't be making her tiny cakes.
"Because of the shelf life of a cupcake," Carella said, "we talked about maybe doing brownies, Rice Krispy treats or muffins."
Jason Nickerson says talks with Carella are "very preliminary."
"If we were to collaborate, we would need the explicit sanction of the state Department of Consumer Protection and would need to be in strict compliance with the regulations the commissioner has set forth and/or has yet to set forth."
Nickerson is also making sure the 15,000-square-foot space owned by the city of Middletown at the Remington Rand building at 180 Johnson Street is fully prepared to start growing medical marijuana if the state Department of Consumer Protection green lights his business plan. The city's common council approved a lease with Greenbelt at its August meeting.
Carella is enthusiastic about potentially working with a fellow North End business. "There is a lot of talent going on up here and I'm flattered they thought of me. I like the idea that they're right down the street. We're just excited to be a part of it."
After just under two years in business, NoRA has grown from a small storefront cupcake bakery to one doubled in size, wedding and catering clients and selling coffee, croissants, soups and bread, T-shirts, soaps and artwork. Its trademark pink and black Lil' NoRA Cupcake Truck travels around the state to the Coventry Farmers Market and other festivals and events.
"We think Carrie has a great company, we admire how involved and active they are in Middletown and beyond, and we think that an alliance there would probably allow us to work in concert on community projects as well as making great edibles," Nickerson said.
As of Oct. 22, according to the state Department of Consumer Protection, there are 1,182 patients certified in Connecticut to use medical marijuana but no certified producers or dispensaries.
Nickerson says he's prepared to be flexible as Connecticut's MMJ regulations evolve.
"As they stand, they do provide some clear guidance on how edibles production is to be handled and for the time being, we are basing our vision of how a collaboration with NoRA would work on those parameters."
Medical marijuana edibles must be produced, packaged and labeled in a licensed production facility, according to Connecticut regulations. Packaged edibles are to be transported from the production facility to licensed dispensaries for patient distribution.
To collaborate with Carella, Nickerson said, the edibles would need to be produced in a commercial kitchen within his facility. NoRA staff would become Greenbelt employees, trained in facility protocols, and go through a vetting process with DCP, he said. Once that's complete, NoRA staff would work under the supervision of his team while baking the edibles.
"Formulating of edibles recipes and dosages would be informed by our staff and our advisors in biology, pharmacy and various fields of medicine associated with the conditions for which medical marijuana is prescribed. Edibles would be infused with extractions processed from the marijuana plant within the production facility," Nickerson said.
Some may wonder how exactly medical marijuana will be incorporated into these brownies or cupcakes. Nickerson says he hopes to develop a tasteless cannabinoid extract which would be infused in butter or oil.
Which means it won't be necessary for Carella and her staff to sample the MMJ edibles to perfect the recipe.
His team has heard many complaints from consumers in other states that such edibles lack high-quality palatability, Nickerson said. "A big part of the impetus to collaborate with NoRA would be to produce better, excellent-tasting edibles."
Meanwhile, Middletown's zoning board is set to consider Deep River pharmacist Kathy M. Kalista's request to allow the sale or dispensation of medical marijuana at its Dec. 11 meeting.
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