Some infused edible companies cater to the novice, with bite-sized candies as low in strength as 2.5 milligrams, a popular trend known as microdosing. At Korova, you might say they go in a different direction. The Black Bar brownie packs in 1,000mg of THC—so potent that it is “recommended solely for those with extreme pain and a high tolerance.”
The Oakland, California-based company is clearly onto something. Since launching in 2011, it has become one of California’s largest edibles companies, with 55 employees and selling 25,000 edibles each week.
“It’s really dosing you can rely on. When you eat an edible from Korova, you’re going to feel it.”
The motto is “unrivaled potency,” with the three-eyed cow logo you’ll see in more than 1,000 California medical cannabis dispensaries.
Korova’s success is further proven in New Frontier Data’s report “Cannabis On-Demand: Evolving Trends in California’s Medical Market.” The company’s famed Black Bar is listed as the number one edible product by unadjusted retail value in the entire state of California.
“Dosing You Can Rely On”
The company was founded by Joe Gerlach, who saw something lacking on dispensary shelves.
“It was people making their own [edible] and putting it in plastic baggie written on it with a Sharpie,” said Steve Adkins, Korova’s CEO. “The quality of the products, the inconsistency of dosing, was something [Gerlach] thought he could do better.”
The name Korova came from the bar where hooligans drink drug-laced milk in the film A Clockwork Orange, a favorite of Gerlach’s. It’s also Russian for “cow.” The cow in the logo is wearing the hat from the movie. And the third eye, well, maybe you should eat some Black Bar, give it a while and then ponder that.
“We don’t encourage people to eat the whole thing. It says on the package you can always eat more but you can’t eat less.”
From the beginning, the cookies and brownies were made from scratch, with professional packaging and lab testing to ensure the product met the hefty potency claims. “It’s really dosing you can rely on. When you eat an edible from Korova, you’re going to feel it,” said Adkins. That said, the company does sell edibles with potency as low as 150mg, which is still sure to knock the socks off most cannabis enthusiasts.
Medical to Recreational
In some states, edibles makers are required to have products divided into pieces by potency. California does not, so a consumer eating a Korova bar decides how much to break off (assuming, of course, they’re not interested in ingesting 1,000 milligrams in one sitting.)
Adkins said Korova’s customers will eat the 1,000mg brownies in small pieces and put the rest back in the freezer, stretching their $50 over days or weeks. It’s why the Black Bar is the most popular product, followed by the 500mg Fifty One Fifty Bar.
“We don’t encourage people to eat the whole thing. It says on the package you can always eat more but you can’t eat less,” he said.
Whether Korova will continue to be able to make them like that is up in the air as California draws up its first cannabis regulations. Will edibles have to be divided into 10mg doses? Will something as potent as the Black Bar even be allowed?
Amid the uncertainty, Korova is plunging ahead on new initiatives. The company plans to be part of the recreational market, even as Adkins hopes for an exemption to allow Korova to continue to sell the 1,000mg bars in medical dispensaries. Korova has licensed its product to manufacturers in Nevada and Arizona. The company even plans to launch its own line of cannabis flower next year.
“We definitely have a lot of work we’re doing inside to get ready for this, with the idea of continuing to have a premium position within the cannabis industry, but knowing to do that we need to make some changes in a way that’s going to benefit our company, consumers and dispensary owners,” Adkins said.
“With the regulations in California, however they end up, we’re looking at positioning ourselves as ‘potency you can rely on.'”