LAKEWOOD RANCH (FOX 13) - A cool bowl of ice cream will put a smile on just about anyone's face. But a Manatee County creamery is taking its passion one step further, infusing ice cream with cannabis.
Heavenly Hash Creamery is churning gallon after gallon in an effort to help people suffering from cancer and other medical conditions -- and possibly save lives.
The creamery staff gave FOX 13's Haley Hinds a tour Tuesday. Their latest batch -- a creamy waterfall of fresh vanilla ice cream swirled with Plant City strawberry preserves -- was just one of the dozens of flavors produced at Heavenly Hash.
"There's something about ice cream. When you eat ice cream, you're happy," said Fran Fanning, an oncology nurse who also does healthcare sales for Heavenly Hash.
Co-Owner and COO Matthew Eastman's journey into the ice cream biz started at home with his wife and grew into Lickity Splits Ice Cream in Lakewood Ranch. In its first year, they churned out about 500 gallons.
"This year, we're on track for between 35,000 to 40,000," Eastman said.
After some sweet success, including deals with Amalie Arena and Tropicana Field, it was time for a new venture. So, Eastman teamed up with oncology nurse Susan Scherer to create Heavenly Hash Creamery.
"One of the big problems that cancer patients have is cachexia, which is their muscle waste and weight loss," Eastman said. "So, we put our heads together and tried to figure out if there's a way we could actually make ice cream high-fat, high-protein, and taste good. We are trying to make something that is healthy, in a way that you can add weight on but not have a lot of artificial stuff."
They've just begun producing a brand new type of gourmet ice cream that is high in fat and protein, infused with pure CBD isolate and marketed toward the medical community.
"It's a derivative of the hemp plant," Eastman said. "It's properly dosed, it's lab tested."
The ice cream doesn't contain THC, so it won't get you high, but Fanning said it brings much-needed comfort to those suffering from a range of conditions from cancer to Crohn's.
"It helps with the anxiety, it helps with the pain, it helps with the inflammation, and it also has this calming effect without them getting the high, so to speak," Fanning said. "You don't need a large amount of it to be able to get the nutritional benefit."
The products are now being sold in nearly 30 locations, from doctor's offices to vape shops. Having a successful business is sweet but knowing it helps patients live better, for them, is the cherry on top.
"Every week, you get more stories and more stories, and they're heartfelt and heartwarming," Eastman said. "Every time you get one of the stories coming in, it makes what we do a little more worthwhile."
As the business grows, Heavenly Hash is gearing up to build a larger, 20,000-square-foot facility so they can churn out even more ice cream.
LINK: You can learn more about what they do at https://heavenlyhashcreamery.com/.