By David Rheins
WASHINGTON: “It’s been a crazy twenty-five years,” Cannabis Basics founder Ah Warner tells me via Zoom this Sunday afternoon. “The word that I really relate to in this journey is tenacity. I am tenacious, and without that I would not be around.”
Tenacious is an understatement. Since 1994, Ah has been a true pioneer on the forefront of hemp and cannabis culture and commerce. Her Cannabis Creations, established in 1994, predates the legendary Dr. Bronner by 5 years, selling hemp products “back when people still thought hemp was marijuana – I guess some people still do,” she told me.
Inspired by Jack Herer’s seminal book “The Emperor Wears No Clothes: Hemp and the Marijuana Conspiracy”, which she calls the Bible of Hemp, Ah’s journey began with a love of all things hemp, migrated to a passion for medical marijuana, and then in 2012 when Washington State legalized adult-use, Ah felt the recreational market left inadequate place for her hemp-centric and low THC body products, so she went mainstream. She now vends her Hemp Basics line all over the country; while her Cannabis Basics products, which contain small amounts of THC, are sold in grocery stores and specialty retail only in Washington State.
Cannabis Basics is allowed by law to sell on mainstream retail shelves due to the landmark CHABA (Cannabis Health and Beauty Aids) law that Ah Warner along with activist Keri Boiter and then State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles passed in Washington in 2015. When I asked her what had changed in the five years since that CHABA legislation was passed, Ah explained “The law that is five years old now still only exists here in Washington State. No other state has replicated this. No other state has said ‘if you have a little bit of marijuana in your product, and it is non-intoxicating and a topical it can be sold in grocery stores.’ What that means for me is that I have two lines – one is hemp seed oil and CBD, called Hemp Basics that is sold all over the country. And then my CHABA line, Cannabis Basics, which has the marijuana in it, sold here in Washington State in grocery stores. Now people don’t have to go to pot shops to get full-spectrum topicals. And that has changed a lot for people, especially the older generation who don’t want to go into a pot shop for a topical.”
By taking her hemp and cannabis brands mainstream, Ah has unlocked a whole new marketplace. It has been necessary to “pivot, pivot, pivot” Ah notes, as the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the shutdown of her core buyers — massage therapists, and boutique retailers, resulting in a 50% loss of business.
But, always the innovator, Ah discovered a need in the marketplace, and has created a new product line to address it. She believing that in the age of COVID-19 everyone that wears a mask is a hero, but notes that wearing a mask poses it’s own challenges. “Unfortunately, masks are uncomfortable and may cause irritation, redness, and inflammation around the nose and mouth,” she noted. “Many masks are made from synthetic materials and dyes, and when combined with sweat and hot breath, can clog pores and create havoc on our sensitive facial skin. This new phenomenon is called maskne.”
“I really wanted to create something that would be helpful and comforting to our frontline workers and dedicated mask wearers in these challenging and stressful times so I formulated the Masked Hero Face Rescue System, harnessing the best that cannabis has to offer. The product blends organic hempseed oil, hemp hydrosols and cannabis extractions and infusions, with many other powerful botanicals, like tea tree, neroli and witch hazel. This skin care system is a three-step process: a cleanser to bathe and detoxify, a toner to balance and tighten and lastly, a moisturizer to nourish, hydrate and protect your face.”
What’s next for the energetic entrepreneur? Ah will be introducing a new online retail store (Ah’s Cannabis Couch) and a new YouTube channel. To learn more, watch the entire video interview, presented exclusively on Marijuana Channel One, part of the MJNews Network.