Now that cannabis dispensaries are as ubiquitous as liquor stores, it’s going to be harder and harder for cannabis care providers to differentiate themselves. With more than 200 dispensaries in Puerto Rico to choose from, how does a patient or consumer know which dispensaries are truly looking out for their health and well-being? What if patients don’t know what they are looking for when they come in to buy medicine? What should they expect? What if they don’t completely know what options are available?
When it comes to cannabis as medicine there can be a lot of trial and error – figuring out dosages and which strains work best for you and your condition take time – and often budtenders don’t have the luxury of getting to know their patients on the level that’s truly needed.
It’s not easy wading through hundreds of options in a new market, but by asking around we were able to shortcut our journey. We asked locals, “If you were in need of quality medicine, where would you send your family? Who would you trust to make sure they got the care and compassion they deserve? Who would make them feel comfortable and show genuine interest and provide exceptional care?”
That was our mission and here’s what we found…
Caramor, one of the island’s most reputable dispensaries. So many people led us to this location we knew they couldn’t all be wrong. We had an opportunity to speak with CEO Brett Daniels about what it means to him to treat customers like family, with the same type of treatment he’d give his own grandmother.
Within minutes of meeting him it was apparent there was genuine care, interest, and love touching every aspect of his business, starting with the love of his family, down to the plants providing the medicine he puts on his shelves.
For Daniels, it all started when his then girlfriend and future wife came asking for help. Her father was suffering from the debilitating effects of colon cancer and was in a lot of pain. He’d given up on chemo and wanted relief but had no access to plant medicine.
With a grower in the family, Daniels knew firsthand the benefits cannabis could provide and so he became a de facto supplier for family and friends. Helping family members find relief from debilitating pain was very satisfying to his heart. He knew this would be a mission. He knew he needed to learn more, to understand all the ways cannabis medicine could help where western medicines were failing.
It wasn’t long before a fraternity brother heard how Daniels was helping others, and so he came asking for help for his wife battling the early stages of breast cancer. Daniels offered gummies to help with the chemo side effects and tincture to help her sleep. Armed with the experience of knowing that he could help his family and friends find relief with cannabis was a huge motivator for starting his cannabis business.
Around the same time, Daniels soon-to-be business partner, Andre Diaz, who now runs operations and Caramor’s dispensaries in Puerto Rico, also stepped into the role of cannabis caregiver when his mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Watching her suffer through the different treatments, Diaz began researching different alternatives to help his mom heal even though medical cannabis wasn’t an option at the time.
Watching the cannabis industry explode in Colorado had Diaz thinking he would move there to start his own business, but just at that time, the government decided to bring the industry to Puerto Rico. “To have the opportunity to build the business here in my own country and not have to move my mom was just the biggest blessing,” says Diaz. “It was also lucky meeting my business partner Brett here and starting the conversation.”
Daniels and Diaz shared the common vision of helping others by producing and distributing the best possible cannabis medicine. From the start they were only thinking of a cultivation license, but their ambitions quickly grew to include two dispensaries (one in Condado and the other in Las Piedras), including a 20,000 square-foot grow operation, a manufacturing facility, and a transportation system – all grown and built from a place of love and compassion for others.
“From the beginning we wanted to express Caribbean love,” says Daniels. “We always put our patients first at Caramor and treat them with care, so in creating this word to represent our business it made sense to combine Car from Caribbean with the Spanish word for love, Amor.”
Care and compassion go into each and every product they produce. With a full manufacturing facility at their disposal, Caramor is creating some of the island’s cleanest and best concentrates. What sets them apart from other manufacturers is their use of the whole plant.
Their Caribbean Love Live line is all about using living plants and flash freezing them within minutes of harvest. Flash freezing the whole plant locks in all the living terpenes to dramatically improve flavor and taste. The cannabinoids and terpenes attribute directly to the quality of the extract whether it’s live sugar, live resin, or live sap. Daniels is confident that this method preserves all the natural properties of the plant, just as nature intended. “You know exactly what you’re getting from the whole-plant medicine. Most manufacturers on the island are not freezing the whole plant at the time of harvest — using cured flower or trim instead of a fresh frozen method,” he says. “With our fresh frozen whole-plant process, time and time again, you’re going to get a more consistent, tasty, and beneficial terpene and cannabinoid profile, which are going to help you feel better, and be better for you.”
Caramor is selective with the strains they grow. “We want our strains to have very high terpene profiles regardless of THC, and if they’re not producing, we eliminate them from rotation,” says Daniels. “What we want to do is educate patients. It’s not just about THC. It’s the terpenes that will help produce the healing effect that a 30% THC strain may not provide. That’s the knowledge we have to share.”
Daniels knew that in choosing the Las Piedras location he would be able to infuse his future cultivation site with pure spring water from the surrounding rainforest basin. “We specifically chose this property and community knowing that we were bringing local jobs and could give directly back.” The plants that would care for his future patients would be nourished locally from their own pure water sources.
With premium, reserve and special reserve top-shelf products that consumers can access and trust, Caramor’s flowers and concentrates are found in other dispensaries across the island. “We want to reach out to communities who need quality medicine,” says Diaz. “We are always working, it doesn’t stop. We’re always improving for our patients.”
That mission couldn’t be any more apparent for one of Condado’s regular patients, WeedqueenPR, who told us she’s constantly feeling spoiled by their close attention, care, and excellent customer service. Raving about the budtenders, WeedQueenPR says they’re always very friendly, warm, and accommodating. “When others were out of products, they were always there helping me with the alternatives and not telling me to go somewhere else and find it,” she says. “They take their time to really help. You get used to being treated in a nice way.”
Going above and beyond for their patients became such a norm that WeedqueenPR refused to shop elsewhere for her medicine. “Being in high pain and having to drive to the middle of Condado for my medicine is hard, but they have made it easy for the customers. They take care of our parking costs with a lot nearby, and we don’t have to pay,” she says.
Feeling like part of the Caramor family is definitely part of the ethos and experience. Every customer who walks through the door is treated with the same respect that you’d want for your loved one. Family, and being treated like family, is so important to Daniels that he’s created a reminder for himself in a specialty strain that he named after his departed, older sister Michelle.
“She had a big personality. Michelle was always the life of the party,” Daniels fondly remembers. “She was a ball of energy, very outgoing and personable.” As the first person in his family to go to college, she paved the way for him to go too. To that end he named the strain Schelle, short for Michelle, to honor her and “always keep her memory close,” says Daniels. “She loved the beach, so naming this strain was the perfect fit for her.” Of course it makes perfect sense that this Indica-dominant hybrid has so many healing properties; it is the perfect medicine for easing pain, nausea, and stress. A winning formula for love and care.
Our quest for care and compassion seems to have been fulfilled. In Puerto Rico it’s called Caramor. If you find yourself in need of medicine and want to be wrapped in a family-like experience, we definitely urge you to stop in. According to our many sources you won’t be disappointed!