In the famously pot-friendly surfer town known as Santa Cruz, California, a visionary young pot grower named Andy Genovese runs Day Dreamers Chocolate, a company whose innovative, eco-friendly, sun-grown approach to creating all-natural cannabis-infused chocolates earned HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cups for top edibles twice in 2013 — first in San Francisco and then again in Seattle.

As the child of hippie parents who valued ecological consciousness, Andy says he’s dismayed to see buyers at dispensaries turning up their noses at outdoor organic crops in favor of energy-intensive, chemically-laden indoor buds.

“Growing pot outdoors was the only way to do it as far as my parents were concerned,” he says, explaining his move from grower to cannabis chocolatier. “So I wanted to keep the outdoor scene alive, but I realized that to succeed, I had to turn my harvest into another product, since there isn’t that much demand for outdoor flower.”

At which point a chance meeting brought Andy a silent partner, a brilliant professor who’d developed a technique for making solventless extracts of cannabinoids without synthetic additives. Using all-natural, sun-grown cannabis and a proprietary process, the partners now “squeeze” fresh flowers to create “a highly concentrated oil, with upwards of 70% to 80% THC.” The Day Dreamers Chocolate team extracts about 60 grams of oil from one pound of flower in this manner, yielding a potent end product, with a highly pleasant taste.

In addition to the culinary quality of their chocolates, the team at Day Dreamers Chocolate also focuses on providing a truly medicinal product. A mission reflected in their first-place winner, the High CBD Bar, which boasts a one-to-one ratio of THC to CBD for a balanced healing effect. Ingesting CBD counteracts the panicky, anxious feelings people sometimes experience from eating too much THC, while ingesting an equal amount of each results in an edible experience that’s total bliss.

“We started establishing genetics about two years ago from the ground up, so we could come out with a CBD product,” Andy explains.

Day Dreamers Chocolate now offers five different chocolate blends in all.

“If someone wants an uplifting, psychoactive experience, there’s the Sativa bar, and for a heavier, more sedative effect, there’s an Indica bar,” Andy says, “We also created a Hybrid bar and a 360 milligram high-dose bar,” intended to replace pharmaceutical painkillers for patients with high tolerances to THC.

And based on patient feedback, they’ll soon offer a new sugar-free bar that’s very high in CBD and low in THC, designed specifically for cannabis-naïve patients suffering from cancer, IBS and diabetes.

To ensure their products are consistently dosed, Day Dreamers pairs its organic, earth-friendly cultivation philosophy with cutting-edge science, including sterile, tamper-proof packaging with individual doses of chocolates encased in a blister pack and professional labeling with clear dosage information, including lab-test results for cannabinoid levels in milligrams.

Distribution currently remains limited to about 50 dispensaries in Central California, including San Jose Patient’s Group, which entered the Day Dreamers Chocolate bar into the High Times Cannabis Cup competitions. Since winning two first place Cups, demand has grown steadily.

“The guys at San Jose Patient Group made this happen for us,” Andy says, describing how he felt after winning the marijuana world’s most prestigious honor. “I’m still hands-on producing the medicine. I grew the product for the bar that won the Cup. From making my alpaca compost to planting the seeds and growing the plants to assisting the oil guy and squeezing it… it took years of effort, including breeding those strains, so winning was very special to me.”

In the near future, Andy looks forward to scaling up his growing, so qualified patients all over the Golden State can access his chocolate. “People here have a lot of ambition and desire for whatever it is they enjoy and believe in…” he says, “And I strongly believe in cannabis and have a passion for it.”