Q&A with Dahlia Mertens
Dahlia Mertens discusses the early days of topical cannabis products, the CBD bubble, and how she’s striving to improve people’s lives
Dahlia Mertens is the founder and CEO of Mary Jane’s Medicinals, one of the leading cannabis topicals companies in the U.S. With a passion for the healing properties of cannabis and a holistic approach to well-being, Mertens has been using a natural whole-plant infusion process since 2009 at the Mary Jane’s Medicinals production facility in Telluride, CO.
Over the past decade, her products have earned many awards and accolades, including the High Times Cannabis Cup and Dope Cup for “Best Topical,” and have helped thousands of people address their pain and health issues in a natural and holistic way. Mary Jane’s Botanicals features a full spectrum CBD hemp product line.
This interview was originally published in Nutraceuticals World
420AC: How did the Mary Jane revolution start?
Mertens: We were one of the very first companies to come on the market with a cannabis-infused topical product, so in that sense we were revolutionary for the cannabis industry. I started my company in 2009 and back then very few people had heard about cannabis being used topically. People thought I was selling snake oil, so I had to focus a lot of energy into educating customers about the benefits of topicals.
Consequently, Mary Jane’s Medicinals played a major role in getting the word out about cannabis-infused topicals and creating the topical niche in the cannabis industry. And now we have launched Mary Jane’s Botanicals so we can provide hemp-derived products to folks that may not live in a state that has a legal regulated cannabis industry.
420AC: Many CBD/hemp products say they are full spectrum. What is so special about your products?
Mertens: We bring full spectrum to the next level. Most cannabis or CBD infused topicals use distillate to add the potency to their product. When a concentrate is made it extracts some of the compounds in cannabis but loses many of the other beneficial compounds that are naturally occurring in the plant.
At Mary Jane’s Medicinals we employ a “Whole Plant” approach. Instead of using concentrates we infuse our base oils directly with the plant material. We utilize a very gentle technique that maintains the terpenes, the full spectrum of cannabinoids, the flavonoids, and the other beneficial compounds found in the cannabis plant. These compounds work together in a synergistic way known as the “entourage effect.” When the compounds can work together, they are more bioavailable to the human body and thus more effective.
420AC: Explain your formulation process.
Mertens: We make everything from scratch and in small batches at our lovely little production facility in Telluride, CO. My cousin Jeff is in charge of production. He really cares about our products and as a result puts a lot of love into every batch.
We infuse our base oils—grapeseed, avocado and sweet almond oil—directly with cannabis that is Colorado sourced and grown with natural methods. We are very particular about what we put into our products and only use all-natural premium ingredients. If you look at our ingredients panel on all of our products you will be able to pronounce every ingredient and know what they are. No synthetic chemicals are ever used at Mary Jane’s.
420AC: Is it unique that you make your products in small batches by hand?
Mertens: Yes. Many of our competitors use contract manufacturers to produce their products. At Mary Jane’s Medicinals we produce everything in house. We also come up with our own formulations, carefully selecting each ingredient.
For lotions or salves, other companies use pre-formulated bases that contain chemicals and other ingredients we would not select. Our process enables us to carefully curate our products so we can feel confident that our customers are getting a product that is aligned with our philosophy of a holistic and natural approach to health and well-being.
420AC: Are some of your hemp-based salve products made without lavender essential oil, peppermint essential oil and grapeseed oil? Some people are allergic to these ingredients.
Mertens: We have some products that do not contain these ingredients. However, lavender and peppermint work symbiotically with cannabis and boost many of the therapeutic properties of the plant. Grapeseed oil has many benefits for the skin, it absorbs easily and is packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Therefore, these ingredients are greatly beneficial in a cannabis product if you are not allergic to them.
420AC: What has been the overall consumer response to such high price points for CBD/hemp products?
Mertens: I have always tried to keep our products on the affordable side even though we use premium ingredients. Many people that use our products are older and on fixed incomes, but they need these products the most. So, in the interest of keeping these products accessible I am vigilant on keeping my prices competitive. I also regularly conduct competitive price analysis to make sure I am staying on top of market trends.
420AC: Are you seeing any significant trends in the CBD/hemp industry?
Mertens: There was definitely a CBD bubble. Many companies saw an opportunity with CBD and had dollar symbols in their eyes. As a result, there are a ton of CBD product lines on the market, and it can be difficult for consumers to distinguish between quality products and companies that are just out there to make a quick buck.
It seems as if the bubble is bursting though, and many CBD companies are going out of business. This may weed out some of the lesser players with lower quality products and will hopefully benefit the consumer.
420AC: In addition to sales, how are you able to evaluate company success?
Mertens: For me, the most rewarding aspect of this business has always been the testimonials we receive from our customers. Of course, we have to be profitable to sustain the business, but improving the quality of people’s lives keeps me and my team going on a day-to-day basis. When I envision our success moving forward, I first envision helping numerous people and then I envision abundant sales.
420AC: Presidents use an array of pens to sign bills into law. What type of pen do you prefer to use for your signed documents—ballpoint, gel, Sharpie?
Mertens: I prefer the Pilot G-2 medium point size.
420AC: What is one thing about yourself that most people do not know.
Mertens: When I have to make a big decision, I use my gut, and then I support it with data.