(This is the first in a series of articles from MJ Biz Con in Las Vegas so stay tuned!)
Dahlia Mertens has been building her cannabis topicals business Mary Jane Medicinals for 10 years and has seen a lot of change in the industry.
Mertens was initially involved in the theater until she moved to the small town of Telluride, CO in the southwest part of the state, and became a massage therapist. After a few years, she visited her friend’s cannabis farm in California to help trim and while there she offered Mertens a neck rub with the infused oil. Mertens noted it felt very good since it relaxes the muscles really well.
Thus, when she returned to Colorado, she started making infused massage oil, making her business one of the first to sell cannabis topicals. When she started using the oil on her massage clients, they came back raving about how much better they felt afterward.
Mertens built her cannabis topicals business from the ground up with a mere $1,500 investment. She said $500 went to her friend for branding and the rest went into ingredients and containers for the cannabis topicals themselves.
She initially went door to door around the state in her car alone seeking to sell her product to medical dispensaries giving out samples before one company wanted to make a deal. People at first were quite skeptical. But the product’s effectiveness led many to call her back interested in making a deal.
Big Cannabis Topicals Business
Mary Jane’s Medicinals’ cannabis topicals are now being distributed in medical and adult-use dispensaries in Oklahoma, New Mexico, and looking to enter the New Jersey market.
Her best customers are baby boomers and seniors since they have the most aches and pains. They are not interested in getting high smoking or edibles but this is especially effective for them. This is especially interesting since a great deal of opposition to cannabis comes from older individuals. Athletes also like its healing power after working out.
“Old folks love it,” she noted, adding that her hometown mayor used the cream to heal a large, ugly scar from brain surgery to the point where it was barely visible after a month using her oil.
Mertens said her cannabis topicals are good for arthritis, chronic pain, injuries, and skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Mary Jane Medicinals now has a range of cannabis topical products to address pain including salves, aloes, lotion, soap, topical tinctures, and massage oil.
Her cannabis topicals contain both THC and CBD together which makes her products more effective. While it does have THC, it is important to note that you can’t get high off a topical.
Mertens believes topicals are wonderful ambassadors to those skeptical of cannabis. Conservatives who were wary have begun to like and it helps with those seeking to deal with opioids.
Mertens said a lot has changed since she started in the business.
“The environment is changing. When I started back in 2009, it was just small business owners that were courageous enough to dive into the industry or had a good idea,” Mertens said,
“None of us knew what we were doing,” Mertens said regarding the industry and regulators. “Sometimes I thought I knew more than they did.”
This being her first enterprise, Mertens said she has grown along with her business. She added that big money has changed the culture in Colorado. “It’s good that small businesses are able to access funding easier,” she said.
Mertens said that the highly regulated nature of some of the new state markets and would have made it difficult for a small entrepreneur such as herself to compete. She espoused a belief in free markets and the power of a small business dominated that leads to a range of products.