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Big Sexy, a Pot Brownie Expert Who Turns Marijuana Entrepreneurship Into a Lifestyle

Big Sexy with his wares
Big Sexy with his wares
Nanette Gonzales

"I'm sorry, I'm

just texting my butter maker," says the man in the black XL Rocca Wear

shirt. He goes by "Big Sexy," and with a filled-out, 6-foot-5 frame, he

lives up to that moniker and then some.

"It's more than a name,"

he says. "It's a lifestyle. Try to say 'Big Sexy' without smiling." The

32-year-old puts down his iPhone and looks up with a disarmingly

youthful face. "I'm doing things that make me happy."

What makes

him happy is food, specifically "handmade artisanal treats." He makes

dark acai fudge brownies, white chocolate popcorn, cinnamon toast crunch

crumb cake and six-ingredient, gluten-free granola. With favorites such

as "caramel seduction" and "dark acai attraction," Big Sexy says, the

"names of treats are flirtations," intended to "add a positive to your

life to ease pain and anxiety."

The secret is in the butter.

Cannabis-infused butter -- aka cannabutter -- goes into all of his

muffins, cookies and brownies. Which might explain why the founder and

head baker of Big Sexy's Sinful Sweets insists on going by a nickname.

(He gives his real name only as "Joey.")

The grassroots business,

which operates out of its founder's Venice apartment, includes a

publicist and a few volunteers, who label, package and ship the baked

goods.

"We're pioneers," he says, walking through a meticulously

neat kitchen stocked with organic ingredients. "We're edible pioneers."

Clients

include cancer and AIDS patients looking for pain relief but stretch to

include a wider cross-section who desire to treat everything from

chronic aches to hormone imbalance. "We make pot brownies not to put you

on the couch but to get you off the couch," he explains, to "ease

suffering" and provide "food and pain relief."

"Edible people are

mostly people who can't smoke," he explains, "because when they're at

work they can ingest weed as a pain relief. I'm a healer."

That

said, getting high is an occupational hazard: "When I'm working, I wear a

mask over my face while I'm making butter because of the vapors."

Big Sexy began cooking with pot in 2003, "experimenting" with leftovers from his vaporizer.

At

the time, he worked at a Bay Area nonprofit, helping educate the

terminally ill. He saw their suffering first, though, and wanted to

help. "People's pain can be really intense," he recalls. "It ruins

people."

Through trial and error, he perfected a butter-and-sea

salt popcorn recipe that he was confident enough to give to a friend's

grandmother, who had cancer. "It was the only thing that gave her an

appetite."

Two years later, he founded his company: "A mutual friend opened a dispensary and said you should bake."

Joey-turned-Big

Sexy eventually would vend to about three dozen dispensaries across

Southern California, and today also sells via his website, bigsexybakery.com, using social media to buoy his business.

"I

went from working at an educational nonprofit, teaching people how to

read, to being a pot baker," he deadpans. "At a party, when you say,

'I'm a pot baker,' everybody wants to talk to you. But it's not just

kids trying to get stoned. Older people often come up to me and say they

have a friend who's sick. Those are the people that -- usually -- come up

and talk to me at a party."

Despite the stereotypes inherent in

his line of work, Big Sexy is no pothead. He has a business degree with a

concentration in nonprofit business administration and is one thesis

away from completing an MBA. "I was good at math, and baking is an

artistic science. You have to understand the flow; it's all repetition

and practice."

Big Sexy cites Malcolm Gladwell's theory that it takes 10,000 hours to perfect a craft: "I've been baking a lot."

The

business of medical marijuana is being increasingly squeezed by federal

and local authorities (see "L.A.'s Pot Prohibition Playbook," Feb. 16).

Big Sexy's Sinful Sweets -- and its founder's future -- are mired in a

legal minefield, caught between what the government defines as crime and

what can only be called entrepreneurship.

When Big Sexy started

his business, SoCal's medical marijuana economy was still largely under

the law enforcement radar. Today dispensaries and growers alike operate

with an ever-growing target on their backs, as cities and law

enforcement agencies have toughened their stance on the industry.

Meanwhile, edibles vendors are allowed to sell prepared foods without

county health inspections, through a legal loophole that categorizes

medical marijuana dispensaries as out of its jurisdiction.

To

date, no action has been taken against edible vendors, says John

Franklin, a spokesman for the City Attorney's Office. But that appears

to be because the office has "never received a complaint." He adds, "If

there was a complaint, we'd enforce it."

Still, even as Big Sexy

promotes his burgeoning business online, he tries to keep a low profile

in real life, avoiding the public eye. He isn't a target -- yet. But he

feels the heat coming.

"They're going after dispensaries right now, growing operations," he says. "Edible companies are definitely next."

The entrepreneur hopes to convince people -- one person at a time, if need be -- that he has a right to exist.

"I'm

just trying to make the world better," Big Sexy protests. "When I told

my mom, after she got over the shock, she said, 'It's true.' "

Follow us on Twitter at @LAWeeklyArts and like us on Facebook. You can also follow the writer on Twitter at @adampopescu.

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