"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."
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
"We're pioneers," he says, walking through a meticulously
neat kitchen stocked with organic ingredients. "We're edible pioneers."
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."
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.
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
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
Two years later, he founded his company: "A mutual friend opened a dispensary and said you should bake."
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.
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
Big Sexy cites Malcolm Gladwell's theory that it takes 10,000 hours to perfect a craft: "I've been baking a lot."
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.
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.
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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.'?"