Ah Warner: 25 Years On The Forefront Of Hemp & Cannabis Culture And Commerce

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.

420MEDIA Trailblazers In Cannabis: Cici & Adam Dunn, Owners and Founders of HOODLAB

Trailblazers In Cannabis

Digital marketing agency 420MEDIA and the Marijuana Business Association (MJBA) have joined forces to create a series highlighting entrepreneurs trailblazing the cannabis scene. Each week, we profile a noteworthy business pioneer, and ask each 5 questions. This week’s featured trailblazers are Cici and Adam Dunn, Owners and Founders of HOODLAB Store & HoodLamb Colorado, a family owned and operated hemp concept store & world wholesale agent for Amsterdam clothing label HoodLamb hemp tailors.

HempWorksTell us about your Company

After 25+ years of “hempin’ it” together, we have an extensive portfolio of hemp brands and companies that we have helped establish, build and operate. Some of these brands we helped create and run together with our original Amsterdam team, including HEMP WORKS, Hemp HoodLamb and T.H.Seeds, Adam co-founded in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

In 2010, we decided to start our life together as a couple after having been good colleagues for 10 years. It was the evolution of a friendship that unexpectedly resulted in true love. We left Amsterdam for Colorado, which seemed to be the new hot spot for hemp. Our new endeavor HoodLAB was established in Denver, Colorado, in 2011 as the world’s first brick n’ mortar ‘HoodLamb Concept Store, Art Gallery & Wholesale Agent.’  At HoodLAB we promote all things hemp and embrace a sustainable, conscious and holistic lifestyle with hemp at the core. The latest creation coming out of HoodLAB is Doggylamb, an all-weather hemp coat for dogs, because dogs need good hemp gear too.

Being an active and authentic voice in the industry is important to us and ‘The Adam Dunn Show’ is our weekly cannabis podcast focussed on science, culture and industry knowledge. Adam propels the show with a cast of colorful guests and unbelievable anecdotes from his 25 years in the cannabis industry.

Our hemp journey started … 

Adam:  In 1989 I found myself in Amsterdam as a 19 year-old fresh off the boat, literally.  I just got off a TransAtlantic sailing trip that brought me to a ferry in the North of England when I looked at the ferry destination it said ‘Rotterdam’ in that moment I knew I had to go. The Netherlands had always fascinated me and being it was in the pre-internet days I wasn’t even sure if the stories of cannabis shops and hash bars were true.

With an ‘Emperor Wears No Clothes’ in my backpack, I headed off to the land of hemp and honey well at least hemp, right? On that first trip I found a shop called ‘Homegrown Fantasy.’  It was a great place that grew all its own cannabis.  I noticed there weren’t many English things to read and I was really into the EWNC at that moment, so I photocopied some key pages and made something like a ‘look book’ for the shop. This caught the attention of Henk van Dalen, the owner of homegrown fantasy and now Dutch Passion seeds. Henk told me his friend Ben owned ‘Sensi Seeds’ and the hash museum and that he would put in a good word for me.

Over the next couple of years working for both Sensi Seeds and the Hash Museum a definite need for a serious hemp store arose. Then in July of 1993, along with Doug Mignola and another American activist, we opened the first hemp shop in Europe called Cannabis in Amsterdam or CIA for short.

CIA quickly became the go-to spot for genetics and hemp products, putting us close to the movers and the shakers of the Hemp and Cannabis world. It gave us the chance to try to do the things that Jack Herer was talking about and put those words into action. CIA was an important time and place in the cannabis world, and it taught us tenacity every day, year in and year out.  From that point, we preached the gospel of hemp. CIA was a short blip on the radar, lasting only 2 years, but it evolved into the most exclusive and innovative hemp shop: HEMP WORKS.

Cici: I had always been an “all-plants” kind of person and my Green Path began with my first job as a 14-year-old at Stockholm’s first and oldest, and still-running vegetarian restaurant — a renowned place located in the ‘House of Health’,  with one of the most beautiful views over the city and the water. I had set my mind on beginning a conscious plant-based lifestyle and now nearly 3 decades later this is still my Green Philosophy,  one that I’ve expanded into the ‘Healing Arts’ where hemp has its place as superfood and herbal medicine.

In 1997, eager to see more of Europe, I decided to leave my motherland Sweden and randomly set my sails to Amsterdam. I can’t say I knew much about cannabis back then and I’m not even sure if I knew what hemp was, but that was soon going to change when I met Adam and Doug, two young American hemp entrepreneurs, the co-founders of HEMP WORKS, “Europe’s First & Finest Hemp Store”. We became friends and they introduced me to hemp and all its versatile uses. In 1999 I joined the team at HEMP WORKS that quickly became my new international family of friends in Amsterdam.

The Dunn Family

HEMP WORKS was truly an exclusive place in Amsterdam. On one hand it was a spot buzzing with counterculture and creativity for people that identified with more non-conventional ideas. On the other hand, it was an international and welcoming lifestyle store selling all things made from hemp. If it was made from hemp, we probably sold it. We carried crafts and handmade accessories from our Nepalese vendors, chic dresses from French surfer brand Kanabeach, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps next to handmade hemp oil soaps from a small family farm in Ohio, and so much more.

Our staff came from all over the world, everywhere from Kazakhstan to France, Israel, Italy, Great Britain, Scandinavia, Surinam and Poland.  The two things that connected us was our HEMP WORKS family and the hemp plant. In those times, most people that walked into the store didn’t really know what hemp was so our crew became 24/7 guerilla marketers educating Amsterdam locals and tourists from around the globe about hemp and how it can be utilized and made into consumer products.

Why did you choose the cannabis/hemp business? 

Adam: I feel that I did not find hemp, hemp found me, all these things happened organically. We never separated hemp and cannabis as they are one and the same and this gave us a wider sampling of products and services to be involved in such as breeding seeds, making hempcrete, making glass pipes, brand development and the list goes on and on. Hemp has so many avenues to explore and roads to walk. Clothing became a piece of a larger puzzle that we tried to complete, only to realize that hemp can go on infinitely: you just had to put your mind to the goal at hand and hemp could fill it. If I had any idea what world impacts these choices would make, it would have only motivated me more. 

Cici: The hemp plant always spoke to me as an environmental superstar with massive healing qualities for our planet and its people. So, you can say that my career choice evolved, organically guided by my green heart. Your job is so much more gratifying when you believe in what you are promoting. At the same time, parallel with my job at HEMP WORKS as store manager/stylist/marketeer (we all wore so many hats!), I was doing many other things during those Amsterdam years. I obtained a master’s degree in science & psychology, worked for a San Francisco advertising agency and their social justice branch,  and even got a year and some in at MTV Networks, in their Broadcasting Department where I quickly realized that television was NOT a passion of mine.  So as soon as I could I returned full time to the hemp industry and my counterculture tribe.

Our Hemp Journey Continues…

In 2010, we started a new chapter together as a boyfriend and girlfriend and left Amsterdam for Colorado. With us we brought our in-house brands and Amsterdam influences and opened up HoodLAB Store & Art Gallery. The idea was to bring all the things that we love under one roof: HoodLamb clothing, art, music, hemp education, events, movie nights and anything else radically creative we could think of. In those early days Colorado cannabis pioneer Derek Cumings joined our team and helped us shape HoodLAB’s creative space. In this crazy transition and flow of life events, we also got married and had the best Rock N’ Roll wedding with minimal planning in Las Vegas at the ‘Little White Chappell’. Exactly 9 months after the newest member of our hemp family, Nyc Orion, was born.

HoodLAB

HoodLAB 2.0 in the RiNO Art District in Denver

What has been the reaction to the Hemp brands you represent?  Does it address an unmet need?

Humbling and thrilling to say the least. People in the Colorado movement understood what we were about and during those first years (before hemp was legalized), HoodLAB quickly became a catalyst for hemp/cannabis culture in Denver. We had most of the intellectual movers and shakers and hemp enthusiasts coming through our place — skillfully documented for years by Denver photographer Kim Sidwell from Cannabis Camera. HoodLAB definitely filled a need for a fun and safe space to keep the conversation and culture going.

HoodLamb the clothing line was created to meet the need for well-tailored and sustainable hemp apparel. In the outerwear department, HoodLamb is still one of the few hemp brands out there with such attention to detail, thanks to our experienced design department in Amsterdam.

What change will your firm address in the industry?

We will keep echoing, “Be the Change you want to see in this world”. It’s not over yet. We need to keep fighting for a more sustainable future in every way we can. To keep pushing in the right direction, we can vote with our dollars and support sustainable brands and businesses. We often talk about the importance of staying authentic in this new digital era, so keep telling the truth, fight for this planet and opt for more renewable regenerative solutions.

Are there any upcoming milestones for your company? 

Last year was our 25th Anniversary for HoodLamb and T.H.Seeds. A quarter of a century in this industry is quite the milestone.

Where can readers learn more? 

HoodLABstore.com

Adamdunnshow.com

Facebook.com/Doggylamb

Thseeds.com

HoodLamb.com

 

 

 

Larry Reed Tours SoL Reno

By Larry Reed, Man On Weed

I was recently invited to tour the SoL facilities in Reno, NV.  The vertically integrated cannabis company is a sponsor of The 4th Annual Jack Herer Cup in Las Vegas, NV.  Named after the man who racked up hundreds of  thousands of miles crossing the country for nearly 40 years campaigning to restore the hemp plant to American agriculture, The Jack Herer Cup is different from the normal cannabis cups you might be familiar with. It’s not three days, there is no vending, and you won’t find $5 dab stations. This Cup is a very respectful way to say thank you to someone who has in some way shape or form taken care of your family by helping his family.

 

Sol_logo_withsocialLocated about 15 minutes south of Reno, “The Biggest Little City In The World,” SoL’s location is easy to get to from anywhere in the area and worth the drive even if you’re not, because what you will see there is that epic!  After signing in at the welcome desk, and entering through the security door, I turn left and whamo: a continuous span of 20 foot high windows, over 100ft long,  that provide a view into the field of mean green goodness! The complete view of the working garden is right before your eyes: 1,000 cannabis plants all in bud cycle producing an amazing landscape of colas super swollen, trichomes glistening in the light and the aroma of Mother Nature’s finest bouquet of cannabis.

Are you familiar with the term “hog leg?” Pungent with distinctive terpene profiles pack in the 23,000 square foot greenhouse! All grown in natural sunlight. I’m no scientist but it would seem to me that 1 Sun is greater than however many lights you want to try and emulate the most powerful light source in our universe.  No corners were cut in the creation of SoL, the greenhouse is on the forefront of technology in the under roof organic cannabis farm. There is even a 3 foot riser that allows you to see over the canopy. Think Bob Ross after he paints happy autumn trees. All of this is in the lounge area. Yes a lounge area, a kin to a common area in library or office, a place to decompress, perhaps grab a beverage from the coffee bar (yes there really is a coffee bar there) and go view what is happening in the commercial kitchen. Commercial Kitchen? Yes, the row of windows that permit you to see in the farm terminate into the side of the kitchen that is also behind windows.  Transparency, that is what is happening here: from the transparent garden roof to the see through walls, the glass windows of the kitchen, all in full view. And for good reason, SoL has an amazing chef ready to create and everyone gets to watch his culinary creations.

If you’re able to pull yourself away from the cannabis carnival going on in your ocular sockets, there is still the state of the art dispensary to visit.

A wonderful combination of high tech meets hands on.  Digital menus drape the walls giving you the luxury of strolling and shopping while being able to see the menu from any place in the dispensary.  Between the menus, the walls are adorned with helpful information and an innovative way of helping you decide which cannabis fits what effects you are desiring.  It really will help you, if maybe you have a hard time deciding over 100 different medical and recreational cannabis products.

How did this gregarious garden of ganja, the Taj Mahal of THC transparency, this kingdom of kindness ever to come into existence.  It was the brainchild of Ed Alexander and his partners; each facet of the facility has been well thought out and implemented to provide a very warm and welcoming experience to all that visit.  Two things really jump out at you when you meet Ed, first, he puts the effort in to do it right.  When I asked about his timing into the market he replied. “SoL could have been known for being first. but we would rather be known as the one(s) that lasted”.

SoL’s sponsorship of the Jack Herer Cup fits into the company philosophy. “Jack was all about making cannabis transparent, seeing what was actually behind all the misinformation, it is our plan to keep that going,” Alexander told me. “That’s why SoL is better.”

After you’ve reached your buying limit and have tickled your THC bone so much that you just gotta get going, you exit onto a 2,000 sq ft deck, complete with comfy couches to relax and enjoy the mountain air.  Look to the horizon and you see the largest ski mountain in the area. The trails are visible from the deck and with adult use facilities on the horizon, this space is going to be a favorite for weeders world wide.

From the moment you walk in to the last moment you walk out, the motto repeats itself, SoL is better. SoL provides you with the most unique experience in the emerging dispensary market that can be found today.  SoL’s grand opening celebration kicks of October 26/27/28, lots of good times and great cannabis, make it if you can, tell them Larry Reed sent ya.

A Weed-y Reading List for Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN

Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN has decided that marijuana is not a dangerous drug, but one that should be embraced by the medical establishment — something authors have known for years.

As with anyone who has recently converted, Gupta may want to immerse himself in his newly-discovered culture.  The Los Angeles Times has come up with a list of books that celebrate the wonders of weed — because some authors have been with the pot program all along. [Read more…]

A Weed-y Reading List for Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN

Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN has decided that marijuana is not a dangerous drug, but one that should be embraced by the medical establishment — something authors have known for years.

As with anyone who has recently converted, Gupta may want to immerse himself in his newly-discovered culture.  The Los Angeles Times has come up with a list of books that celebrate the wonders of weed — because some authors have been with the pot program all along. [Read more…]