Cannabis activist, educator, and renowned hashmaker Frenchy Cannoli has sadly passed away, according to a social media post from his wife Kimberly.
“It’s with profound, heartbreaking grief that I share with you due to complications from surgery Frenchy left us on Sunday, [July 18th],” Kimberly, AKA Madame Cannoli, posted. “I’m sorry I couldn’t share this with you in person. This seemed like the best way to let you know directly from me.”
Frenchy was born in the Mediterranean town of Nice, France in 1956. Throughout the ’60s, most Europeans in this region consumed cannabis in the form of top-quality hashish imported from Morocco or Asia. Frenchy fell in love with hash in his early teens, and these initial experiences inspired him to travel the world to expand his knowledge.
“I always wanted to travel when I was a kid,” Frenchy told MERRY JANE back in 2019. “Then, when I smoked my first spliff, I was tasting and smelling and experiencing parts of the world that I wanted to visit. And I couldn’t wait to be 18 and to travel. And I dedicated my first 18 years of my adult life to traveling. That’s all I did.”
Cannoli led a nomadic lifestyle for nearly two decades, traveling to India, Morocco, Nepal, and Pakistan in order to learn each region’s unique tradition of hash production. In India, Frenchy lived in caves with hashmakers in the Parvati Valley for eight full growing seasons. During this time, the young nomad learned how traditional farmers massaged the resin out of live cannabis plants and rolled it into balls or logs known as charas.
After years of traveling, Cannoli eventually settled down with his family in Northern California just as the Golden State was legalizing medical cannabis. During the “grey market” years of Prop. 215, California’s relaxed medical marijuana law, Frenchy began producing hash and shaping it into the form of the popular Italian dessert that ended up becoming part of his nickname.
“People call French people Frenchy left and right. So, I’ve been called Frenchy for a long time,” he told MERRY JANE. “And then, at that time, when I pressed my resin, I put it in the cannoli shape. And that made some friends love it a lot and I thought, Oh, wow, Frenchy Cannoli, it’s perfect. And I’m actually half-Italian half-French anyway. My roots are Italian, too.”
Eventually, Cannoli transitioned his business into the state’s fully-legal adult-use market. And while most legal cannabis companies are focusing on modern concentrates like BHO and wax, Frenchy and his wife continued to produce hash in the traditional way.
“You have whole generations of young Americans, probably anybody under 40 [years-old], who don’t even know what traditional hash is,” Kimberly explained to MERRY JANE. “I can’t tell you how many people today come by and I say, ‘We made traditional hash.’ And they go, ‘Oh that’s nice. What is it?’”
Instead of keeping all of his experience for his own personal use and profit, Cannoli set up a Youtube channel to share his knowledge with cannabis lovers all around the world. In 2015, he also began hosting a series of workshops called the “Lost Art of the Hashishin” to help people learn to make their own top-shelf hash.
“It’s not about being the best,” Frenchy explained. “It’s sharing my years of knowledge of something that has been really precious all my life. With the next generation, you can bring the game further. I want them to become better than me. It’s like the goal of all these people that I’m teaching. I will mentor you until you’re bigger and better than me. That’s what I really want.”
In an Instagram post, Kimberly asked friends to share happy photos of themselves with her husband. “His passing was unexpected and leaves his family with a gaping hole of emotion where his smile and energy usually filled us so completely,” she wrote. “I think what we all appreciated about Frenchy so much was his authenticity and passion. It would give me great solace to see his face lit up with a smile right now.”