Photograph by Jessica Turner.
TThe cannabis business in Texas is ironically stressful.
Legal cannabis is highly regulated. Products require third-party testing and laboratory reporting. On the other hand, it is difficult to find a banker and impossible to get a business loan. Cannabis cannot be advertised through social media and creating a website is more complicated because it requires a landing page without mentioning CBD or cannabis.
But the opportunity to enter a newly opened market attracted Michael Weinstein, also known as the Dread Head Chef, and his fiancée, Robin Riddle. This year they entered the business with their longtime friend, Dallas public relations expert Lisa Oldham.
Weinstein worked for a country club and a high-end restaurant, Mediterraneo, in the 1990s, and then became the last executive chef under the original owners of The Grape.
After that, he started a business called Dread Head Chef making dessert sauces. That business started when he was inventing a dessert for his niece who suffers from wheat allergy. He made fried corn tortilla chips sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, a gluten-free prey from a soup bowl, and served it with a strawberry chutney he had assembled. Everyone said it looked like fries and sauce.
He brought these Dread Head Chef products to markets and conventions, including some dealing with cannabis. This inspired him to infuse his dessert sauces with CBD, and a whole new business began to flourish.
“I’ve tried other groceries, and a lot of them aren’t very good,” Weinstein says.
Most are made with full-spectrum CBD oil, which is said to have a medicinal taste. Some people don’t realize it, but for Weinstein, it overwhelms everything.
So he started working with cannabis flowers bought at the Oak Cliff Cultivators hemp farm to make butter infused for salted candies. This method gives the candies a “earthy, grassy” flavor that Weinstein prefers over the chemical flavor of the oil.
Business partners attended several cannabis conventions in Texas, where CBD is legal and marijuana is not, and in California, where marijuana is legal for recreational use.
They realized that the market is flooded with jelly beans, so they decided not to. The next most common foods are chocolates and chocolate chip cookies, Weinstein says. That’s why they went looking for candy.