US firm plans to sell `Bhang` chocolates
Chocolates as such are considered intoxicating for many, and an American entrepreneur now wants to give it a new high by lacing the bitter-sweet dessert with very much an Indian intoxicant `Bhang` and trademark it too.
New Delhi: Chocolates as such are considered intoxicating for many, and an American entrepreneur now wants to give it a new high by lacing the bitter-sweet dessert with very much an Indian intoxicant `Bhang` and trademark it too.
The product, to be produced and sold in the US for now and possibly in our country later, will be called `Bhang: The Original Cannabis Chocolate` and the New Mexico-based chololateur has sought a trademark for the same. If the trademark is granted, the Bhang word cannot be used for a chocolate or candy product by anyone else.
Synonymous with festivals like Holi and Shivratri and associated with Lord Shiva in the Hindu mythology, `Bhang` is one of the few legally available preparations of cannabis plant in the country. It is smoked and also consumed as a beverage or doughed up as semi-solid candies.
Adding a new recipe of this ancient Indian intoxicant, chocolateur Scott J Van Rixel plans to start selling at least two types of `Bhang` chocolates soon in the US and will later consider expanding to India, if regulations permit.
In response to emailed queries on the matter, Rixel told reporters from California that "sky is the limit" when it comes to the market potential for these new chocolates, as there is no "high-end cannabis chocolate" available.
Rixel has already incorporated a company named `Bhang Chocolate Company Inc` for this new venture and is also selling merchandise items like T-shirts and baseball caps with the name and logo of `Bhang Chocolate` embossed on them as part of a marketing and brand recognition exercise.
"Yes, we have an extensive line of merchandise that will be available internationally," Rixel said.
Asked whether he will consider producing and selling these chocolates here, Rixel said, "I am not familiar enough with India`s cannabis laws, but would love to do so, even if it is the THC-free white label products."
Rixel plans to sell two types of Bhang chocolates – a white label containing hemp seeds and hemp oil and the black label with THC containing Marijuana.
Hemp and marijuana are two forms of cannabis plants and the former has very low THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) content, the main psychoactive substance found in cannabis plants.
In India, Bhang is made of dried leaves and flowering shoots of hemp plants, which also produces ganja and charas.
Asked if Bhang, being a generic Indian term, could pose some problem in getting the trademark, Rixel said, "there are many generic foreign words which are used in the US as
trademarks. The other part is that trademark has been submitted as `Bhang: The Original Cannabis Chocolate. It is an enclosed statement.
"We have also filed for just `Bhang` as a single word, but since it is for a chocolate and candy submission, we are not trying to trademark the Indian word for Marijuana," Rixel clarified.
Rixel further clarified that he is "trademarking a brand name for a specific product. Other people can use the word `Bhang`, but not for a chocolate or candy."
Rixel said he will sell the white-label products across the US, while the black-label medical marijuana products will be sold only in the states that allow them. "In the US, the black label THC products cannot be shipped across state lines, so each state will have to have its own production facility.
The white label products can be produced anywhere and shipped anywhere," he added.
"We will be (also) producing in Canada and Amsterdam in the near future," Rixel said.
Asked about the chances for getting the trademark, given the context of marijuana-related products generally facing difficulty in securing the same, Rise said, "our trademark is under chocolate and confection (category)... Our trademark application has not been kicked back, so I have no concerns."