Laurie Wolf is to stoners what Martha Stewart is to WASPs. Both are lifestyle icons whose inspiring canons appeal to specific groups of consumers, regardless of their age. However, your average Portland pot smoker is likely far more familiar with Wolf’s work, which includes books like The Cannabis Apothecary (2020), Herb: Mastering the Art of Cooking with Cannabis (2015), and years of recipe contributions to High Times, Dope and Culture magazines to name a few.
Despite the fact that women make up half the owner-operators in the cannabis industry, there are precious few held up as idols. That makes Laurie Wolf all the more special: She continues to be a die-hard cannabis connoisseur, advocate, award-winning baker and producer of some of the finest edibles available in Oregon through her business Laurie + MaryJane.
“I feel like there are people making things who just have no fucking clue,” says Wolf of fly-by-night edible producers. “They’re like, ‘This is good enough.’ We never want to be just ‘good enough.’”
WW caught up with Wolf during Women’s History Month to ask her what inspired her to start an edibles company, how weed helped her through motherhood and why anyone interested in starting their own cannabusiness might want to think twice before pursuing that career path.
WW: Tell us about the first time you smoked weed.
Laurie Wolf : I was 15. Is that early? The first time I didn’t get high, but after that became completely in love with cannabis. From 15 to 20, I was a regular smoker. When I was 20, my mother died and it was a horrific time in my family. I stopped because I was super anxious. At some point, I ended up plummeting into the most horrific depression. I could barely function. I couldn’t smoke during the day because I couldn’t really accomplish anything. So I’d just be miserable. And then I would smoke at night, and it was like all those horrible feelings were gone. I was myself, my funnier self.
When you left New York City to retire in Portland, you established yourself as a go-to cannabis foodie. Why the hard pivot to pot?
When I was 30, I was diagnosed with absence epilepsy. I’ll become very flushed, nauseous and dizzy. It could be several minutes of me not knowing where I am. It’s really scary. The first two weeks we were here, we went to a Volvo dealership. I was sitting next to this old guy with white hair and a crazy-professor vibe. We started talking and I said, “I have epilepsy,” and he said, “Are you using cannabis?” He was a cannabis doctor! I didn’t even know cannabis was medically legal. He said, “Call this number. You’ll get your license, and I’m telling you with what you have, cannabis will take care of it.”
Did that interaction inspire you to found Laurie + MaryJane?
Yes, absolutely. I wanted people to have access to edibles that tasted good, because back in 2014, it was a whole different thing. My son Nick and his wife Mary decided to move out here from New York. I hardly knew Mary. I mean, I had met her maybe three times, but she asked, “Do you mind if I play around with your logo?” She started with the whisk, and it just completely changed the look. I asked her to be my partner and the rest is history.
How do you develop your recipes?
Many manufactured edibles taste nasty to me because they’re not using coconut oil or butter. They’re using a distillate. I think some people don’t mind, but I hate that chemical taste. While I don’t love the taste of cannabis, I understand the taste of cannabis. Our goal was to make edibles that led to a great experience and tasted great. Like, you would eat them even if you weren’t wanting to get high.
As a soon-to-be grandmother, what are your thoughts on motherhood and cannabis?
Once I had Nick, I didn’t smoke for a bunch of years. And then when we adopted Olivia, I was like, “Eesh, two kids. I really need to do something.” But I’m not a drinker. So I started smoking again. I had to be careful, so I would go outside and get high, and I’d come back in and the kids would be like, “Hey, how come Mom’s in such a good mood?” Because the stress just lifted off of me. It was wonderful.
What advice would you give to the entrepreneurial cannabis chef just starting out in their kitchen?
Don’t do it! [laughs] The better way to say that is that you better want it more than anything else in your life, because it is so hard.
Laurie + Mary Jane’s newest edibles, Bleublees gummies, are now available in dispensaries statewide.