Garyn Angel has invented an appliance that, in some circles, is making serious waves. It gets "high" marks in 420 magazine, raves on Toke City and Cannabis Culture forums. It even created a stir at the recent Fancy Food Show in New York, winning the popular vote in the "My Story, My Ad" contest.
It is Magical Butter, touted as the world's only botanical extractor, pulling plant nutrients directly into butter, cooking oils, alcohol and lotions. Need a decoder? It's helpful in making pot brownies and late-night pizza with that extra little something. With medical marijuana use legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia and nonmedical use legal in Colorado and Washington, tools for extracting THC and cannabinoids have become big business, even in states like Florida, which is thought to be far from getting the requisite 700,000 signatures necessary to get medical marijuana onto the November 2014 ballot.
Angel, 36, a University of South Florida finance graduate, is among the savvy entrepreneurs getting in on this new round of reefer madness. With prototyping complete for a third version of the Magical Butter apparatus, Angel has sold tens of thousands around the globe (he declined to give exact numbers as the company is exploring going public) with large-scale production under way in China and 15 employees in Port Richey.
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His journey hardly reads like a Cheech and Chong skit. In February 2011, a friend with Crohn's disease was kicking around alternative treatment options. Long thought to be a remedy for digestive problems, marijuana seemed like a promising option, but how to extract the medicinal properties without the telltale scent permeating the house? Angel, a financial planner, envisioned a double boiler that worked on an outdoor grill. He had a machine shop in Brooksville put together a prototype.
It wasn't quite right, not precise enough. It needed to do more than function as a slow cooker. He went back to the drawing board, thinking about how to calibrate the heat and mixing speed necessary to extract the maximum nutrients from any plant. He began designing an automated cooking appliance with an embedded microprocessor, a sleek stainless-steel contraption that looks like a fancy coffeepot.
The first shipment of Magical Butter machines arrived at Angel's Port Richey office a year ago. The company's website (magicalbutter.com) went live that next month and by Jan. 7 the products were sold out at $149.95 a pop. Angel started tinkering again, both refining the technology and broadening his goals. MB2 ($174.95) launched in March, with a third iteration in the works that's light years away from a stoner gadget from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
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On a recent visit to his office, with Magical Butter's general counsel, Vincent Pazienza, glowering nearby, Angel explained the nuances of the new machine, for which nearly a dozen patents are pending. MB3 functions as a combination blender, slow cooker, food processor, mixer and even ice cream maker (it gets both hot and cold). For the home cook this could mean a clutter-free kitchen counter; for the professional kitchen it might usher in more automated recipe execution. Angel's animated explanation began sounding less like the latest, greatest alternative to the bong and more like, as Angel described, "the Tesla of kitchen appliances."
Look around the Magical Butter headquarters and the free-spirited psychedelia associated with pot culture bubbles up: A foosball table at the entrance and a bucket of wiffle balls stave off mental blocks, and a row of bright green fright wigs and "Mr. Butter" costumes stand at the ready for festivals. A Magical Butter limousine and VW van are lavishly painted, and employees wear lime green Mr. Butter T-shirts (a character like a trippy Casper the Friendly Ghost wearing a Bluetooth headset). At trade shows, Angel and crew wear board shorts and set up laser light shows. And in fact the Magical Butter apparatus itself offers a kaleidoscopic LED light display while it cooks.
Magical Butter's Facebook page, 61,000 fans and growing, has become a clearinghouse for botanical extraction know-how as well as medicinal and recreational marijuana use information.
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Western Washington resident Ted Rude, 56, uses cannabis oil made in the Magical Butter machine to treat kidney failure, Crohn's disease and bladder cancer. He has limited use of his right hand, so ease of use is crucial to him.
"I go to my dispensary and pick up the herb of my choice. I put the machine on the counter. I take a 24-ounce bottle of certified organic canola or flaxseed oil and pour straight out of the bottle into the machine. I pour the herb straight into the machine and put the top on. I hit the temperature button and timer button and I walk away."
In two hours, he has a finished product that he strains and incorporates into Rice Krispies treats. He says that without his MB2 he couldn't control potency or dosage.
"Medical marijuana is expensive, so it's also important to know I'm not going to burn it or ruin it. I'm off all of my hard medication since I started doing this, and my health is now stable."
Angel considers Magical Butter a think tank and sees numerous applications beyond cannabis, both in day-to-day meal preparation as well as other medicinal plant extracts with applications from skin ointments to treatment for mood disorders.
"We are creating revolutionary technologies that help people with many medical ailments."
Laura Reiley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.