About 50 miles northeast of Lansing, a family-owned cannabis company is building an edible empire. Thousands of marijuana plants are blooming. More greenhouses are being built. And a steady stream of chocolate, gummies and other confections are flooding the statewide market.
Ben and Vinnie Celani moved from Michigan to California — and Colorado in between — to start High Life Farms in 2014. Three years later, they came back to their home state to launch another processing and cultivation facility in Chesaning. And this year, business is still booming with more than 200 employees, 250,000 square feet of growing facilities and an extensive product lineup stocking shelves at virtually every recreational and medical pot shop in Greater Lansing.
The company doesn’t operate any of its own provisioning centers. Instead, the Celani brothers — for now — are focused primarily on processing, manufacturing and distributing their own lineup of decadent edibles, as well as dank products for Kiva Confections and Wana Brands from both California and Michigan.
“There’s just an incredible opportunity in the industry right now. Especially in Michigan, with hitting that reset button four or five years ago, it’s just blowing up,” Ben Celani explained. “It’s also getting competitive. Now is really a good time to see who is in this for the long-term.”
High Life Farms — Royal Chocolate Bar (Blueberry Cheesecake)
Price — $20*
THC content — 100 mg
If mouthwatering flavors are any indicator of chances at long-term success, High Life Farms is probably poised to become the Coca-Cola Classic of cannabis. Regular readers know I don’t drop this word too often, but this is truly the best cannabis-infused chocolate I’ve ever tasted.
I’m a bit biased because cheesecake is my all-time favorite dessert, but I’d probably buy these chocolate bars even if they didn’t get me high. That said: This chocolate got me incredibly high. Decadently creamy white chocolate (apparently dyed purple) was blended with natural blueberry cheesecake flavors. The underside was coated in a crunchy, salty, pretzel-like crust. The ingredients are simple and the bar divided nicely into 20 bite-sized (5 mg THC) pieces — perfect for dosing at whatever specific level suits your needs. For me, it was the whole bar.
An hour later, I was blissfully zoning out into a few new vinyls, finding peace in mundane house chores and wondering whether I could DoorDash a full-sized cheesecake to my house. Total relaxation but not total sedation lingered for hours before I eventually crashed on the couch.
High Life Farms — Nuggies
Price — $20*
THC content — 100 mg
Nuggies are the latest product from High Life Farms, released just in time for the 420 holiday. Staff there told me they currently rank as the third best-selling chocolate product in Michigan.
These little balls of dankness kept me just as baked as the cheesecake chocolate — perhaps with less attachment to my couch. I spent most of my four-hour high on the Lansing River Trail, soaking in the overcast skies and that weird burnt toast smell that permeates Gillespieville.
These crunchy bite-sized pretzel cores are loaded with peanut butter and dipped in THC-infused chocolate. They’re also lightly dusted in salt for that penultimate combination of salty and sweet.
Nuggies also allow for easy dosing with a manageable 10 mg of THC in each piece.
The Celani brothers said they plan to roll out some more flavors of Nuggies later this year. Here’s hoping they saved the recipe for that cheesecake flavor used in their chocolate bars.
Kyle Kaminski is City Pulse’ managing editor and a cannabis enthusiast who has been smoking marijauna just about every day for the last decade. Almost weekly, Kaminski samples some of the best cannabis products available in Greater Lansing, gets real high and writes about them.
*Prices may vary and are estimated based on availability at multiple retailers in Michigan.