Auntie Dolores, a gourmet cannabis edibles company, was founded by Julianna Carella in 2008. The idea was hatched in the ever popular Dolores Park in San Francisco during a time when the cannabis industry was still in its infancy. Except for the ubiquitous home made ‘pot brownie’ and the odd gummy bear, Julianna was hard pressed to find other edible choices in the marketplace. Inspired by the gourmet foods movement in her hometown, Julianna surged forward to provide gourmet edibles to a sophisticated crowd of cannabis patients and enthusiasts. Auntie Dolores took off quickly and is now represented by hundreds of dispensaries across California with big plans for future expansion. HelloMD spoke with Julianna to get to know more about her company and the philosophy behind it.
When you launched Auntie Dolores, what were your first products offered?
The first unique product that became very popular was the savory pretzel. They are vegan and low glycemic. After the pretzels became popular, we developed our chili lime peanuts and the caramel corn. We’ve always had brownies and cookies, which are a staple in most dispensaries. Yet our brownies are vegan, low glycemic, and made with coconut oil and coconut sugar. We wanted to make something that not only tasted great, but was healthier than other products out in the market. We wanted to appeal to a wider clientele with both great flavors and new savory products. At the time we started Auntie Dolores, everything was made with white sugar and white flour and with extremely unhealthy ingredients.
I read on your website that the Latin root of Dolores is ‘Dolore’ which means pain. Naming your company Auntie Dolores is meant to represent anti-pain. When you created your company were you thinking about targeting the medicinal community?
Absolutely, there are many, many people who are using cannabis as medicine and we wanted to reach those people. However, we also want to appeal to a wide array of people, whether they are using it for pain management, anxiety, epilepsy, or just to feel good.
Is it fair to say that you are aiming to create gourmet foods that are also healthy?
Yes. The first thing we always start with is the flavor of our foods. Cannabis can usually be tasted so we are interested in finding ingredients that can mask the flavor of cannabis really well. We have found that the savory products do a great job of that. We also include super-foods in our products because it is a way of making edibles an overall healthier experience.
Coconut oil, which is a common ingredient for us, and cannabis have a lot of the same health benefits and they work well together. A lot of the super-foods, like cacao for instance, are really good for you and have a strong flavor that helps to mask the cannabis flavor, so that is an example of how we might select an ingredient. Almost all of our products have coconut oil in them. We love coconut oil!
It sounds as if you were ahead of the coconut oil movement which is so popular now.
Coconut oil used to get a bad wrap as a saturated fat, but it has a lot of health benefits, as we all know now. It also does a great job of extracting cannabinoids because of the high fat content. We use CO2 extracted cannabis oil infused into coconut oil to bring cannabis into our products.
What is good about CO2 extracted cannabis oil?
It is so concentrated so you can really achieve a better flavor with that product, because you are using such a small amount. You end up with high potency, without the flavor of cannabis, which is ideal. With CO2 cannabis oil, you’re using a lot less oil because it is so concentrated which creates more consistent potency and an overall better flavor.
Elderly patients are beginning to discover cannabis as a form of medicine for a variety of ailments. How do you educate a less experienced patient population on how to use your products effectively and safely?
Over the years we have gained insight into the elderly community and how they use our products. For instance, I recently heard from an elderly woman who told me that she eats one caramel corn a night right before bed to help her sleep. A lot of elderly patients choose to use our products for arthritis, and they tend to only need one or two savory crackers at a time because their tolerance is fairly low.
Our products are designed so you can eat a little bit or a lot, but it also depends on the person’s tolerance level. The dosage is on the package, each pretzel has 3 mg so you may only need 3 or 4 of those pretzels to give you a 10 mg dosage, which is often enough. You can experience the analgesic effects without feeling high, if you know how to regulate your dosage. I think people who have had difficulty with edibles, who have had a bad experience with them, find our products a lot easier to work with because they can eat 2 pretzels and have the effect they are looking for. It’s important to start slowly as everyone is different but we do state dosages on our packaging very clearly.
You have some new CBD (cannabidiol) products coming out, can you tell me a little about that?
We have secured a great source for CBD and it took us a long time. Now that we have a consistent source, we are in the process of developing new products. We hope to sell our CBD edibles worldwide.
Is the CBD hemp derived?
Yes, the CBD we use for our international products is derived from Hemp. We chose to use hemp-derived CBD so that we can sell this product outside of California, being that it is below the legal THC threshold. That way, if someone is interested in the CBD products, you will perhaps have better access to those products. Also, you can independently mix them with THC if you want. Our 50mg CBD brownie and our 10mg THC brownie combined will create a 5:1 ratio (CBD:THC) or you can take a 100mg THC brownie and our 50mg CBD brownie for a 1:2 ratio (CBD:THC). The brownies are small and low in calories and many patients combine to get the effect they are looking for. There are many different combinations you can create or you can just have the CBD brownie on its own.
Are the hemp derived CBD products as effective as cannabis derived CBD products on the market today?
Yes, CBD is CBD. There are a lot of misconceptions about CBD. We have sourced a superior form of CBD that is free of heavy metals and other contaminants. Usually the concentrations of THC in marijuana are going to be hard to take out, but if you start with CBD in hemp, where there is no THC present, it is easier to get a pure CBD product. It is advantageous to have both CBD and THC in a product, but that is not something we can ship it across the country.
What is most exciting development within Auntie Dolores right now?
We are extremely excited about launching our line of CBD products. We’ve only had the CBD brownie out for a few weeks and the response has been overwhelming. We are also looking forward to when the price of CBD comes down to the price of THC. CBD has a lot of great applications but it can be 4 times as expensive as THC, so we are having to charge so much more for our CBD products. We look forward to the day when we can give access to everyone who wants CBD products at a fair and balanced price point.