Karen Dhawan of Slow Ride Bakery was never a cannabis consumer. Vik Dhawan, her husband, was, and he even had experience working with a licensed producer, where his colleagues would snatch up his wife’s baking which he brought in to their delight. However, when Karen had a bad car accident in 2001 and developed chronic pain, a doctor recommended that she try cannabis. It was a match that stuck like a rack of cookies on an ungreased pan. Her life, she says, was immediately changed.
“I went the opioid route for my neck condition and it was so awful that even though I wasn’t comfortable, at the beginning, with cannabis, it really did change my life,” says Dhawan, a master baker who began experimenting with cannabis oils while working retail and became an expert in dosing, and taste. “I made infused granola bars and found ways to medicate myself while Vik consulted with Health Canada and then worked at a licensed producer until one day, we both sort of said, ‘Wait a minute, this is something we can do!”
That something has resulted in the Slow Ride Bakery, named after the Foghat song and, indeed, classic rock fuels the small Ottawa kitchen where Karen Dhawan oversees and hand-prepares every cookie Slow Ride Bakery prepares. For the licensed cannabis producer Indiva, which has achieved tremendous success in the edibles market by importing popular American brands Wana and Bhang, having a Canadian producer in their stable made sense. However, their partnership with Slow Ride isn’t just a play for patriotism, says Indiva CEO Niel Marotta. The cookies are delicious and the Dhawan family are exactly the kind of people that the company aims to support.
The cookies are delicious and Karen and Vik are exactly the kind of high-integrity people that the company aims to support
“We would not have done this deal, or any other deal for that matter, without feeling like there was a strong sense of fidelity between the partners, and Karen and Vik are high-integrity people,” says Marotta, adding that, in the US, baked goods represent 10-15% of the edible category while in Canada it’s less than 1%, meaning Slow Ride represents a huge opportunity for growth. “We get a chance to support a microprocessor, which is similar to what we do with our Artisan Batch brand—supporting craft and micro-cultivators. The fact that Slow Ride Bakery is a home-grown Canadian brand started in Ottawa, Ontario, where our corporate headquarters are located, is also a source of pride.”
The pride in Karen’s cookies emanates in Vik’s explanation of his business. Currently, the couple produces three lines of cookies—spicy ginger, peanut butter and big chocolate—and there’s more in the oven as the Dhawan family, with the help of Indiva, prepares to expand. Vik says he’s glad to partner with Indiva and share Karen’s infused affordable delicious goodness with the world.
“Karen’s baking is so good and she makes so much that she can only fatten me up for so long,” he says, with a laugh. “In all seriousness, working around the industry for as long as I have, I knew it could stand for a change.”
Karen Dhawan, meanwhile, is keeping her eyes focused on her kitchen, creating new recipes, infused concepts and spreading her particular brand of home-baked love. To speak to Dhawan is to be awash in her general goodness. Her mom vibe is exactly the kind of warmth that cannabis lovers have been lacking, and deserve. “I’m the kind of person that never stops feeding people,” she says. “I want people to love my cookies for the taste and the flavour and when you get high on the side, that’s great!”