EMERYVILLE, Calif. - A successful, all women run Bay Area Cannabis company is tickling tastebuds with their flourishing product, and a new location.
Longtime entrepreneur Jennifer Chapin and adventure travel writer Amanda Jones never envisioned their careers crossing paths through pot.
Together they founded a California based cannabis tea product called Kikoko.
Co TEA EO's as they like to call themselves, they owe their success to their dear friend Jan, who had been using medicinal marijuana for cancer treatment and pain management.
"She would literally be crawling to the bathroom on her hands and knees and that's when she had come to us and said I think there is a terrific idea with creating a low dose cannabis product," said Chapin.
That started the budding process. Research and development was underway but shortly after, Jan lost her battle with cancer.
It was a heartbreaking time yet it provided the motivation needed to continue fulfilling Jan's vision.
"We finally found a scientist that could crack the nut and that took us about a year working with this particular scientist so we actually delayed our launch probably three or four times," said Chapin.
No detail was too small. From the flavor and scent of the tea to the design of the can, even the UPC code on the back was made into a teacup.
"We care about absolutely every detail of this product. I think if you buy our tea I would like to think that you're really going to enjoy it it tastes absolutely wonderful and lovely," said Chapin.
Kikoko currently has four flavors: each with a specific purpose.
Positivitea is their party tea with 10 mg of THC. Then there's Sensualitea, a red hot relationship boosting tea.
"A lot of women were saying they needed help with sex, with libido that’s why we did this one. Turns out its also a fantastic tea for connectivity," said Amanda Jones.
Tranquilitea is for sleep, and their medicinal tea inspired by their good friend Jan is the one they're most proud of.
"This one Sympatea is a terrifically healthy tea, very high in CBD which does not get you high and very low in THC only 3 milligrams," said Jones.
Kikoko started sprouting up in Bay Area dispensaries before last summer and the response exceeded their expectations.
"A woman 80-years-old had cancer three times and she wrote about our tea. She was thanking us for our tea, she said it was the first thing in months that took the edge off," said Chapin.
For others though, the stigma associated with cannabis was still present. Chapin says they decided to host tea parties to explain the benefits of their product.
"We feel a responsibility to educate people because there’s a lot of misinformation about cannabis and think “oh I'm going to ride the crazy train”. There's a lot of medicinal benefits to cannabis but you need to understand it first," she said.
Demand picked up tremendously. Soon enough, the all women owned and run company needed a larger space in a marijuana friendly community. Lucky for them, the city of Emeryville is rolling out the red carpet for reputable cannabis companies. Kikoko was one of few selected to call Emeryville home.
"I'm very excited to have businesses come in town such as kikoko which have women leadership and women leading the way in an industry that’s going to be a big one," said Dianne Martinez, Emeryville City Councilwoman.
Right now the state has a 15 percent tax on marijuana. Next you factor in the regular state sales tax of six percent and Alameda County's 3.25 percent sales tax.
Then each city adds their own tax for profitability. Oakland and Berkeley, for example, have a 10 percent tax on recreational marijuana.
"Our rate will be lower than most of our neighbors, and my guess is significantly lower," said Emeryville Mayor John Bauters.
It's a win win for both the city and its new budding business.
"They're an innovative, creative company that is doing business and will revolutionize the face of the cannabis industry," said Bauters.
Boxes are still being unpacked, production of a new tea is already on the horizon and no goal is too large.
"We envision a future where we can have a lovely cannabis teahouse where you can come in and try our Kikoko tea in a lovely environment," said Chapin.