Lagusta Yearwood to launch CBD-infused candy business in former Mac’s Iron Works building in New Paltz

The future location of Softer Power Sweets at 64 North Putt Corners Road. (Photos by Lauren Thomas)

A new chocolate name will soon be produced at New Paltz, but it’s entrusted to a name that has over 20 years of history in this field: Lagusta’s Luscious. It is also supported by loyal fans of this brand, who have granted loans that would not have gone through the bank: even a puff of cannabis makes this impossible, due to the legal ambiguity of this plant at the federal level. The name “Softer Sweets” is used to comply with requirements that a different business entity be formed when the products contain cannabidiol – CBD – a chemical compound found in cannabis and hemp plants whose sale or use is legal in certain circumstances. The Softer Sweets brand won’t look like Lagusta’s Luscious chocolates, but they will be made by some of the same hands, using some of the same ethically sourced vegan ingredients, in the same town at the former Mac’s Iron Works building on North Putt Road corners.

CBD and THC: what are they?

CBD is the second most active ingredient in cannabis, according to Peter Grinspoon, a doctor who wrote about the chemical for the Harvard Health blog, published September 24. The compound can also be extracted from hemp plants or made in a lab. Hemp and marijuana are the same plant, as far as botanists are concerned, but lawmakers wanted to find a way to grow this incredibly versatile plant without encouraging anyone to put it in a pipe and smoke it. Scientist Ernest Small suggested a limit of 0.3% THC – the molecule more properly called delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol – in the 2009 book The Species Problem in Cannabis: Science and Semantics. This line — which Small admitted to be arbitrary — was used in a 2018 law that removed “hemp” from the list of controlled substances, but not “marijuana” (or “marihuana,” as it is spelled in the laws). from New York). As of 2018, CBD is not a controlled substance in the United States, as long as it does not come from a “marijuana” plant.

Regardless of spelling, “marijuana” is itself a word with a problematic past. In August 2020 Health line article, Sian Ferguson explained that the word only became mainstream a century ago, when Mexican refugees from the revolution in that country inspired a fairly common American response, racism. The cannabis plant was already known, but as “marijuana” it became associated with this group of dark-skinned immigrants. “The US government has used the term ‘marijuana’ in anti-cannabis propaganda to cement the association between cannabis and Mexican immigrants. This anti-cannabis propaganda has spread a lot of myths around cannabis while perpetuating racist stereotypes,” Ferguson wrote. This is one of the reasons why the word “cannabis” is coming back into more and more use, but it can be confusing given the no-difference distinction between “marijuana” and “hemp” in the law. Cannabis products include Rope, Nutritious Seeds, Kind Buds, and CBD. It is the same plant that was cultivated for George Washington, and has been cultivated by humans for at least five thousand years.

THC is what brings the laughs, the permagrin, the distorted sense of the passage of time, the deep philosophical thoughts about the universe being a giant donut and squint and red eyes; it is also associated with eliminating nausea, controlling pain, and treating conditions such as glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. It’s unambiguously illegal under federal law, but since it’s now legal in New York, the odds of being arrested for use are low right now. However, no one who does not have a medical marijuana card can legally obtain these products in New York, as the planned tax revenue collection and distribution rules have not yet been finalized and enacted.

CBD is a different molecule, and it hits differently. There are plenty of claims that it helps with anxiety, insomnia, depression, and chronic pain, among other concerns. These aren’t claims you’ll find on CBD product labels, as the science to back them up isn’t quite there yet. According to Grinspoon, the best evidence relates to the treatment of childhood forms of epilepsy, in order to reduce the number of seizures. Some animal studies suggest the possibility that the chemical is good for the above conditions or for reducing addictive cravings. With more interest and fewer legal hurdles, scientists may eventually be able to provide stronger evidence regarding one of these possibilities, or others.

Convince a reluctant chocolatier

Pictured are Softer Power Sweets’ owning partners (left to right): Shana Napoli, Mike McGregor, Lagusta Yearwood and Ericka Wadleigh.

Lagusta Yearwood began selling chocolate under the Lagusta’s Luscious brand in 2003, according to posts on the company’s Facebook page. The products have always been imbued with Yearwood values, which include an abiding concern for the suffering resulting from the blind embrace of capitalism. Sourcing ingredients that don’t come from the suffering of humans or any other animal means that the true cost of production has to be passed on to the consumer, hence a $10 chocolate bar to be expected. This cost may not seem exorbitant if you take into account paying a fair price to the producers and a fair wage to the workers, which is part of the package.

One such fairly paid employee, Shana Napoli, “learned from Lagusta in all things”, as the job at Lagusta was Napoli’s first. Napoli took this training in chocolate and ethical business practices and moved to Colorado, coming to work for a cannabis edibles company. There, Napoli learned even more about confectionery and also how to make cannabis-infused edibles. When Yearwood convinced this former employee to return, the Napoli who showed up was imbued with knowledge of this fledgling industry and a passion for bringing these products to the masses.

At first, “I wasn’t interested,” recalls Yearwood. Cannabis had never been part of the chocolatier’s life. However, in the presence of Napoli’s passion and knowledge, Yearwood began to come forward and ‘realized it had to be us’, if anyone was going to dive into this new market. After researching the legal status of all cannabis products in New York, it was decided to go into CBD products and then add a THC-infused business once the rules on this are established. Learning that a different company needed to be formed for each, Yearwood and Napoli decided to partner with Mike McGregor and Ericka Wadleigh – also key people in Lagusta’s Luscious – to form two limited liability companies. CBD gummies will have ‘Softer Power Sweets’ on the label, and when a line of THC chocolates is created, it will be called ‘Soft Power Sweets’.

The separate legal entities are needed to comply with all the rules, but that doesn’t mean everyone won’t be part of the same family group that produces Lagusta’s Luscious and Commissary staff, the Yearwood restaurant on Church Street. This will become more evident with the new building almost fully operational. All production will be moved to the new building on North Putt Corners Road – but current employees have been promised they won’t have to work with cannabis if they prefer. The Church Street location will eventually be closed, with the Commissioner moving to the North Front Street building. Production capacity is expected to be much higher, and feelers have been circulating on social media to hire a manager to expand the wholesale business.

Loyal customers, reliable lenders

Social media isn’t just used to post pictures of mouth-watering chocolates and search for job candidates. Customers of Lagusta’s Luscious brand love the chocolate, but also the values ​​that permeate every bite, such as scrutinizing suppliers for ethical and environmental issues, and ensuring that everyone along the way receives a paycheck. fair for his work. Many business owners rave about treating employees like partners or customers like family, but the evidence is strong that there’s a real connection here that’s much deeper than vulva-munching. furious, a sweet and sour chocolate with pink peppercorns and Hawaiian pink sea salt.

A challenge facing any business with a significant cannabis component is the fact that THC is still a federally controlled substance. While fears of federal agents beginning to raid legalized establishments in various states have not materialized, engaging in normal commercial banking around these products is nearly impossible. Any bank with a federal charter is run by people who are worried about having that charter revoked. While developing a business plan for Softer Power Sweets, it became clear that this fear even extends to CBD, as it comes from the same plant. It became clear that a traditional bank loan to purchase the new building was not an option, and instead an appeal was made to existing Lagusta’s Luscious customers. “It was basically our only option,” Yearwood explained, because financing a cannabis business carried interest rates that were too high to make sense.

“The metrics banks have to determine who is eligible for funding don’t take into account a myriad of factors that I could discuss directly with our clients, such as the cannabis aspect and the different ways (pros and cons) in which pandemic has affected the business,” Yearwood said. “It’s a more personal way of running a business that suits our whole approach. Not to mention it doesn’t rely on cycling our capital through a large multinational entity.” With a few thoughtful messages and personal calls, low-cost loans from customers were secured instead to secure the building.

Softer Power Sweets is set to launch on April, but not on the 20th. The old Mac’s Iron Works building is being remodeled for a different type of production inside, and there are plans to spruce up the exterior as well. : ivy grows well on steel buildings, and there is talk of a mural facing the Thruway. It’s almost as if the attractive exterior announces something wonderful and delicious hidden inside, like in a box of chocolates.

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