Meet the Female Entrepreneur Who Is One of the First to Secure a U.S. Cannabis Trademark

Published on September 23, 2015 · Last updated July 28, 2020

Cannabis Basics, which is owned and operated entirely by a female staff, just received one of the first trademarks ever for a company that specializes in cannabis and hemp-infused products. Not only is this the first trademark logo issued for a company with “cannabis” in the name, this marks an achievement for women in the highly competitive cannabis industry.

We had a chance to chat with Ah Warner, owner and operator of Cannabis Basics, about this groundbreaking accomplishment for the cannabis community, how cannabis legislation is changing, and how women in the cannabis industry have the unique opportunity to support each other as allies rather than as competition.

Leafly: How did you skirt the legal waters of patents and trademarks?

Ah: Well, this is a process that normally takes nine months, but, with us, it took 18 months. This is the first registered trademark of its kind – that contains both the cannabis leaf AND the word cannabis. We’ve never seen anything like it in modern times, it’s very exciting.

Leafly: Your products have both CBD and small amounts of THC in them. How does that work with the new trademark?

Ah: Our hemp seed oil products are absolutely legal and we can sell them internationally and across state lines without any problem. Although we can only sell the products that contain small amounts of THC (less than .3%) within the state of Washington, by default, our trademark will now protect ALL of our products. The trademark logo is based solely on our hemp products (and we have no intention of shipping any products that contain THC out of the state), but the same branding for both products affords the same legal protections.

Leafly: Tell us more about the legislation you helped author – Senate Bill 5493, the Cannabis Health and Beauty Aids (CHABA) – that was recently signed into law.

Ah: Well, first, I must give credit where credit is due. Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles was our champion, for medical marijuana and really for CHABA. We wrote this legislation to mirror what was happening in the mainstream market. We also worked with Kari Boiter, a political activist and analyst, and Doug Hiatt, previously a criminal cannabis lawyer who has now transitioned into a cannabis business lawyer in Washington State. We knew that the medical market would not survive the recreational legalization and we also realized that I-502 (Washington’s recreational legalization law) would not allow Cannabis Basics to apply for a license.

The end goal of CHABA was to get our products into the hands of health-conscious consumers and we need mainstream retailers in the mix. These products should be accessible to everyone – available at Whole Foods or PCC or health spas. We’ve always said that our “holy grail” would be to have products on the shelves at Bartell’s Drugs, as it’s a Washington-centric store and it’s been in business in Washington for 125 years. We want to be the modern-day birthplace of cannabis health and beauty.

CHABA really did two things for us:

  1. It defined our products for the first time from a legal perspective – from medical-grade topicals with less than .3 percent THC for regulations.
  2. It also defined cannabis health and beauty products as “not usable marijuana,” differentiating them from many other cannabis products on the market. This could not have been achieved without the brilliance of Doug Hiatt and Kari Boiter. The legislation was the first chipping away of Washington’s Controlled Substances Act. Cannabis health and beauty aids were redefined before industrial hemp.

Leafly: What’s next for you and Cannabis Basics?

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Ah: Next? My law is written. The challenge now, well, I used to consider myself the only topical producer who produces topicals where nothing is above .3 percent THC. What we need is the Liquor and Cannabis Control Board to legally source cannabinoids without the use of collective gardens. After 2016, we won’t be able to source cannabinoids from collective gardens as we do now.

We can’t go through I-502 licensed producers under current law. We’d like to be able to source cannabinoids from newly endorsed medical marijuana gardens or I-502 producers. Cannabis Basics wasn’t allowed to apply for I-502, but we’d like to be allowed to apply to be a medical marijuana processor, if the licenses become available.

Also, we just started a new group, the International Cannabis Health and Beauty Aids Producers Alliance. I love alliances, and I’d much rather have allies than competitors. Any producers that need support are welcome. We’re paving the way in this industry and we’ve already covered some amazing ground!

Leafly: Any last thoughts?

Ah: It’s been a crazy journey. I finally feel comfortable saying I’m an activist! It’s a heavy title to feel comfortable with and I don’t say it lightly. But I’ve done some things and achieved some goals. It’s no small thing.

No small thing, indeed! Congratulations to Ah Warner and Cannabis Basics for these awesome accomplishments. We look forward to seeing Cannabis Basics products available on the shelves of Washington’s drug stores soon, and if you’re a Washington local, you can already find these products on shelves locally.

Curious as to how Ah makes her cannabis-infused topicals? Check out our tour of her topicals manufacturing lab, where we get a step-by-step process.

How are Cannabis-Infused Topicals Made? Leafly Tours a Manufacturing Lab

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Lisa Rough
Lisa Rough
Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.
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