When Erica Gilmour and her husband, Drew, started Hummingbird Chocolate in 2011 they had no idea their multi-award-winning chocolates would become one of Canada’s most anticipated edibles. What began as a hobby in the basement of the couple’s home near Ottawa has turned into a massive partnership that will see their bean-to-bar chocolate turned into high-end edibles for the next stage of Canada’s rollout of legal cannabis.
Canopy Growth Corp., one of Canada’s largest licensed producers of cannabis is bringing chocolate back to a town that was built on the stuff: Smith Falls, Ontario. While Hummingbird’s main operational space will remain in Almont, the chocolate meant for edibles will be crafted in Canopy’s first home, the former home of the Hershey chocolate plant. There, Tweed-brand cannabis will be mixed with the Gilmour’s single-origin, fair trade chocolate to create legal edibles.
Erica describes the category of craft chocolate as “another food group entirely.” She could easily see replacing that with a really fantastic piece of cannabis chocolate and is excited that Hummingbird is part of bringing that choice to more people. And besides it being an indulgent and relaxing treat, there’s an excellent reason for makers to go with “the good stuff” when pairing cannabis and cocoa.
Chocolate with Medicinal Potential
The search for cannabinoids in nature took an exciting turn in 1996 when Daniele Piomelli and fellow researchers isolated a cannabinoid neurotransmitter called anandamide (n-arachidonoylethanolamine or AEA) in chocolate. Anandamide, from the Sanskrit word for “internal bliss,” is the neurotransmitter produced in the brain that binds to the same receptors as Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the “bliss” molecule, from cannabis.
A 1996 study published in the clinical journal Nature found that chocolate contains three fatty acid compounds that bind directly to cannabinoid receptors or indirectly act on them through increased anandamide levels (by inhibiting the FAAH enzyme).
Researchers question whether the compounds actually do bind to the receptors directly, but most agree that chocolate increases anandamide levels, thus affecting them indirectly.
Anandamide’s effects from chocolate has influence on the central nervous system, the immune system, mood, memory, appetite, pain perception, and could provide some medicinal benefits similar to THC. The more cocoa in a chocolate bar, the more these effects should be felt, though one would have to eat excessive amounts to experience a high equivalent to smoking a joint.