I only had the opportunity and the pleasure to meet Frenchy Cannoli once. It was at Concentration 2019, and I was going to introduce Frenchy as one of our keynote speakers. I was already a fan of his work and relished the chance to meet him. I had no idea at the time what a lasting effect on me Frenchy would have.
Prior to the conference, I was reading through his bio and saw that Frenchy had lived as a nomad for a while, learning traditional, older ways of making hashish. I saw that he had spent much of his life chronicling, preserving the history of cannabis through making hashish at a time when the plant was foolishly outlawed. His passion for the plant never waned, and I cannot imagine the feelings he must have felt when cannabis finally became legal!
Before I introduced Frenchy, I was able to chat with him for a few minutes. He said some very complimentary words about our work at Terpenes & Testing Magazine and Extraction Magazine and those comments have served as fuel in our quest to propagate trustworthy cannabis science all the more. It was honestly one of the highest points of my life.
When Frenchy took the stage, the room was jampacked, standing room only. You could see the reverence in the faces of the several hundred people who listened to his words, even when the forecast for our future became more austere.
“It’s the only natural resource that can save the planet,” Frenchy said. “It’s the only plant that can clean the planet the way it does. It’s the only plant that can help us not cutting forest, not using petroleum, stopping to make plastic bags.
“If you want to make more money… and you don’t care how you do it, you’re not going to have the time to spend that money. We don’t have a future; we don’t even have 20 years in front of us if we keep doing the way we do. It’s like all the bloody packaging we use, there is nothing made from cannabis! They’re growing CBD in Colorado, they let the stalk rot in the field! It’s like CBD? It’s a byproduct of the fiber and the seeds that that plant can produce. It’s like shame on us if we don’t use that plant the way it should be used.”
I, and I assume many others, had chills. I wanted to shout out F-yeah, and I probably should have. His words drew an ovation. Later that evening, after the main events of the day, I chatted briefly again with Frenchy and his wife Kim. Everyone wanted to say hello or a few words to Frenchy, again, demonstrating the deep respect that these people have for his art.
On Day 2 of our conference, Frenchy gave a live demonstration of the elegant way that he pressed his hashish. It was a technique befitting a master, and I could only marvel at the artisanal grace he embodied, the hash his canvas, all the while chatting with the audience, making us laugh which seemed to break up the transfixion of watching him work. As I left the venue for my flight home, I stopped at Frenchy’s booth one last time. He and Kim each gave me a hug instead of a handshake. I was so fortunate to have met them.
For me, Frenchy Cannoli epitomizes everything that cannabis has been (because he focused on traditional preparations), is (because his craft showcases the magic of whole plant chemistry) and should be (because we must act sustainably to survive). While we have often become enslaved by technological advances, Frenchy preserved for us what once was, providing an industrial harmony akin to the homeostatic nature of Cannabis sativa.
Frenchy also exemplified the forever cannabis student, fully willing to teach what he knew, all the while knowing there was so much more to learn. Coming from a more traditional science path to cannabis and seeing a legend still ravenous to learn more opened my eyes to the magical fact that there’s plenty of cool cannabis science to comb through. Seeing his gentle techniques aimed at preserving vital ingredients like terpenes helped me better understand the importance of these molecules and the value of keeping the chemical family of cannabis together. And recognizing his passion for nurturing Mother Earth while we erected our long-awaited industry helped rekindle previous passions for studying environmental sustainability.
These are just a few of the details regarding what meeting and working with Frenchy meant to me. It is damn inspiring to watch someone hone their craft, marrying science with art in a stunningly beautiful hybrid. It’s downright mesmerizing to add to this Frenchy’s nomadic journey, living out the adventures he’d dreamed about.
It was easy to witness the charisma and class and happiness that Frenchy radiated, leaving those who encountered him better off than before. I know I can say that about myself, and I will always be thankful to Frenchy for this.
With my deepest respect,
Jason S. Lupoi, Ph.D.
July 20, 2021