This summer, Minnesota became a unique spot on the THC-legality map. Businesses of all kinds are selling CBD-based Delta-9 products that purport to give consumers a marijuana-like high. Now that people are settling into their new dazed reality, knowing where to get quality Delta-9 products is still a word-of-mouth activity.

Enter Baja Ontario, the newest THC product business that seeks to stand out amongst an influx of Delta-9 products in Minnesota.

“The new [Minnesota] cannabis policy is an opportunity for all of us to have a nice, safe way to chill out after a hard day or week of work. Our hope is to make that experience as easy, fun, and carefree as possible,” the Baja Ontario website reads.

As new Delta-9 products continue to pour into the Minnesota market, consumers are faced with a lot of options without precedent. A product’s quality, or how that product’s quality compares to others on the market, can feel like a mystery.

Baja Ontario’s plan to stand out amongst the crowd is by producing high-quality chocolates and gummies that people would want to eat even if there wasn’t THC involved. The attention to detail and flavor profiles also adds distinction to the products. Take, for example, the seasonal Pumpkin Spice Soft Caramels made with organic white chocolate and topped with black lava salt. Or the Peach Cobbler White Chocolate Bar with a graham cracker crust. Baja Ontario also has gelatin-free gummies.  

From left to right: Baja Ontario's Milk Chocolate Covered Cherry Bar, Pumpkin Spiced Soft Caramels, and Peach Cobbler Which Chocolate Bar.

“A high-quality product for a high-quality high,” Mike Norton, of Baja Ontario,  said. “We want to be special.”

Baja Ontario is currently a ten-person venture including the owner of Lyn 36 Refuel Station, Lonnie McQuirter, and former Ward 13 City Council candidate, Mike Norton. Both McQuirter and Norton have previously been in Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s “Fast 50” list that recognizes the owners of the fastest-growing businesses in the Twin Cities. Alec Sawyer, Shubham Teotia, Rachel Gluk, Drake Powe, Jason Schilling, Meg Jenson, Justin Baker, and Derek Murashige make up the rest of Baja Ontario’s team.

Eight of the ten Baja Ontario team members. Mike Norton is top far left and Lonnie McQuirter is far right in the middle row.

I sat down with Norton and McQuirter last week to talk about the launch of Baja Ontario.

“I’m ready for the hardball questions,” McQuirter said as we started chatting at Norton’s office in South Uptown. “The zingers.”

So, I started by asking them about the racial dynamics at Baja Ontario amidst Black men’s high rates of incarceration for marijuana possession and distribution and the overwhelming white-ownership of cannabis companies across the country.

Norton is white, McQuirter is Black. Baja Ontario is majority-white owned but is racially and gender diverse.

“I think we are definitely due for reforms,” McQuirter said. For “people that have been unjustly targeted and victimized by some of the laws.”  

Even though cities like Minneapolis have decriminalized marijuana possession, wealth inequities perpetuate the dearth of Black-owned THC businesses across the country.

“You can’t just go get a bank loan,” Norton said about opening a THC-based business. “So you already have to have access to capital to get started. You’ve seen that in other states where it’s a lot of white, private equity guys starting cannabis businesses,” Norton said.

“That’s a very good point,” McQuirter responded. “In Colorado, there’s only a handful [of dispensaries] that are Black-owned.”

Baja Ontario being partially Black-owned makes the company “pioneers in this space,” McQuirter said.

Deliveries of Baja Ontario products will include a “good time guide” that will walk customers through ingesting Delta-9 products. Norton’s goal for the guide is to keep people from getting too high, lest you stumble into a bodega for multiple Snickers bars.

Baja Ontario products will initially not be available in retail stores. McQuirter and Norton explained the restrictions embedded into the ordering process including verifying a buyer’s age, including at the time of delivery, and restricting the volumes of sales per address (to avoid illegal distribution and sales).

Customers can set up a delivery subscription for Baja Ontario products. One month and three month options are currently available.

People may already be familiar with Baja Ontario-esque products without knowing it. The production company that Baja Ontario uses for its gummies, Cannesota, produces CBD and Delta-9 products sold at numerous Southwest businesses including Cal Surf, Clown Glass, Legacy Glassworks, and Urban Tails. Loon Labs produces Baja Ontario’s chocolate products, which has products at Legacy Glassworks and other Minnesota retailers.