From forensic lab to CBD gummies – tracking the journey of ‘Candy Afterdark’
After watching her mother struggle with insomnia for more than 20 years, Raksaranrak “Candy” Choong, 34, decided to start looking for a solution.
A medical graduate from Naresuan University, Candy had
learned about cannabis and its therapeutic properties and
kicked into action as soon as the herb was decriminalised
Her aim was to come up with something tasty that also
provided the medicinal benefits of cannabis, and through
much trial and error, she eventually came up with the
The result was more satisfactory when her mother – the
key target of all her efforts – managed to get a good night’s
sleep for the first time in two decades.
Candy then began sending samples out to her friends, who
responded by saying her CBD-spiked gummies were
delicious and should be put on the market.
So, she launched Candy Afterdark cannabis gummies in
June 2021, which became a huge hit almost immediately.
She said her products became very popular among foreign
expats in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Phuket and Surat Thani.
She added that most customers come to her seeking
solutions to their problems.
“People often want something for insomnia, epilepsy,
Parkinson’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder [ADHD] among children, etc. Some customers
have also relied on cannabis to deal with pain caused by
surgery,” she said.
“It is these people who need help, and our cannabis
gummies work well because they are easy to take.
“Normally, I start with a low dose, but this does not mean
the product will suddenly start working. Actually, it
gradually eases the symptoms and the patient will slowly
recover,” she said.
How did it all start?
Despite spending more than two years experimenting and
developing her product, Candy still puts her success down
She said she spent most of her life working for others, and
despite wanting to become independent with a business of
her own, she never really succeeded.
Her real dream was to work with Thailand’s famous
forensic scientist Khunying Dr Pornthip Rojasunan, and to
make this possible, she enrolled at Princess Chulabhorn
Science High School in Phitsanulok to study science.
Thanks to her good grades, Candy was offered a place in
three universities, but she only wanted a medical degree
from Naresuan University. The main attraction was that
Dr Pornthip had written textbooks for this faculty.
While in university, Candy was given a chance to join the
“Work and Travel Project” in the US, where she could
work and study as well as improve her English-language
skills and gain experience working with foreigners.
After completing her degree on medical science in 2011,
Candy joined the Central Institute of Forensic Science to
do an internship with Dr Pornthip. There she was trained
in crime-scene investigation and collecting evidence.
After completing her stint as a forensic scientist, Candy got
jobs in many places, including the Department of Health
Service Support and the Health Systems Research
Institute’s “Helping Patients with Non-Communicable
Diseases” project led by Siriraj Hospital.
She also worked with the Thailand Centre of Excellence
for Life Sciences (TCELS) in producing cosmetics, helped
develop a masters’ degree curriculum at Naresuan
University and produced the “ThailandToday” show on the
NBT World TV channel.
Apart from full-time jobs, Candy also tried her luck as a
“gig worker” long before working from home became the
norm in Thailand. Her “gig” job was to summarise news
and evaluate the content of websites.
Candy dabbled in import-export, but unsuccessfully. She
did not achieve much success when she began selling food
with her mother, who had closed up her nursery school in
Chiang Mai and moved to Bangkok. However, Candy was
taking a wellness course at that time, which would prove
to be very useful later.
She also built a network of non-Thai friends while working
for a Malaysian real-estate broker, and later began an
online lingerie business called “Candy Afterdark”.
However, she eventually gave it up due to low profits and
the Covid-19 crisis.
How opportunity presents itself
Then, in the middle of the pandemic, she decided to study
the potential of cannabis, especially in Thailand’s medical
tourism market. This inspired her to do an online course
on cannabis offered by the Northern Michigan University,
which taught her how to extract oil from cannabis leaves
and start making “gummies”.
Cannabis gummies are a new concept in Thailand and
restrictions on which part of the plant can be used made it
difficult to create an effective health-enhancing
supplement, she said.
However, Candy said, she continued studying the plant to
find out exactly what can be extracted from its leaves and
flowers. In fact, she said, she was ready to start producing
edibles as soon as the plant was decriminalised in
Her Candy Afterdark gummies are soft, chewy and do not
taste of cannabis. They were an immediate hit when she
began selling them online for 800 baht for every 100-gram
The gummies became so popular that she began to branch
out by expanding her range to cover gummies that also
included THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), cannabis-oil spiked
brownies and cookies as well as cannabis flavoured fruit
juices named Uni Drink.
Eventually, Candy hopes to train others and share her
knowledge with those interested in sharing the benefits of