Our company takes pride in supplying only top quality products. We spend a lot of time first researching and then ultimately meeting any farmers with whom we work. We consider our farmers like-minded partners. To ensure the highest quality of phytocannabinoid rich hemp extract, we consider many factors throughout the entire process from seed to shelf:
- Seed Genetics
- Country of Origin
- Growing Region
- Outdoor / Indoor
- Farming Practices
- Organically Grown
- Extraction Material
- Extraction Method
- Full Spectrum Isolate and the Entourage Effect
It all begins with the plant strain / seed. There are over a thousand strains of hemp (cannabis) and three subspecies, sativa, indica and ruderalis. The differences between them boil down to their resin content, levels of THC, CBD, other cannabinoids and terpenes, and also how difficult each is to grow.
Unfortunately, much of what is on the market comes from large commercial farms who use plant strains that are easy to grow and suitable for mass production. These strains have short flowering periods, high yields, and non-specific feeding requirements. This approach is great for making rope, fabric, paper or building materials, but suboptimal for cannabinoid production. Our farmers tend to their plants with love, use high quality CBD strains, that are rich in cannabinoids, terpenes and other phytonutrients.
Country of Origin
We only source within the United States from farms that we have personally visited. The U.S. imported $67m of hemp in 2017, China being one of the world's largest producers. Hemp from overseas is not overseen as diligently as hemp grown in the United States, which is why we prefer to use home-grown sources.
Hemp grows across the world in many different climates, but only thrives in a few. Colorado's abundant sunlight and dry conditions provide ample energy and limited mold activity. The Northwest coast of the United States is another ideal region for both wine and cannabis production as it offers a temperate climate and fertile soil. Soil quality is especially important when growing cannabis, as cannabis is considered a bioaccumulator, meaning it pulls environmental contaminants out of the soil. CBS aired a story regarding farmers in Italy fighting soil contamination with cannabis.
Outdoor / Indoor
While the evidence is anecdotal, we have a personal preference for cannabis grown outdoors naturally under the sun, moon and stars. Outdoor growth lowers the carbon footprint, complements the plants' natural cycles and provides ecological benefits. Alternatively, plants grown indoors -often in a warehouse- may provide growers year-round cultivation and greater yield, but possibly at the expense of quality, and also require artificial light.
Agriculturally grown hemp is farmed similarly to corn or soy, across hundreds of acres to produce very large quantities. There can be up to 100 plants per square meter. It is machine harvested and processed, and often involves non-organic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. The entire plant is used to make rope, paper, building materials, textiles and food. The strains are usually low in phytocannabinoids, so larger amounts of plant material are required to produce medicinally effective products. The combination of larger quantities and farming practices raises the risk of contaminants. This is great for profitability, but not so great for hemp CBD consumers. Unfortunately, much of what is on the market today comes from industrial hemp because it is cheaper and easier to grow.
We prefer to use horticulturally grown plants. Horticulturally grown cannabis that is intended for human consumption uses a high resin CBD strain. There are only a couple of plants per square meter, and it is hand harvested, trimmed and dried. This helps protect the delicate trichomes (tiny sticky crystal-like stalks that cover the flower /bud) that contain most of the cannabinoids and terpenes.
There is a very limited supply of organically grown hemp / cannabis. Our farms carry an industry organic certificaton. They are passionate stewards of our planet and believe in the healing power of cannabis. "Natural growing practices" or "We use some organic practices" are phrases that just don't mean the same thing.
We use only the flower (bud) and leaves of the plant, which have the highest concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes. They are clipped off by hand to ensure the trichomes are not lost. We throw out the stalks and stems, as they are thought to be less beneficial.
It is very important to understand how your hemp oil was extracted. The extraction method has a major impact on the quality of the end product, not to mention on your health. The purpose of extraction is simply to remove and concentrate the beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, minerals and other phytonutrients from the flower. There are three common extraction methods:
CO2 extraction uses carbon dioxide which is a liquid gas that extracts the oil soluble chemicals (cannabinoids and terpenes) from the plant. What is does not extract are the water soluble compounds such as chlorophyll and other phytonutrients. It is generally considered safe and effective, and in our opinion a good solution for non-organic and / or isolate products.
Olive oil is the most natural extraction and least processed method. First the plant material must be decarboxylated by heating the biomass to 250 degrees for 30 to 60 minutes to activate the plant’s chemicals. Then it is soaked in olive oil, heated and agitated for a few hours, before the plant material is filtered from the oil. It is a great at home method, but limits the potency.
Solvents such as ethanol, alcohol or butane are used in another extraction method. There is a debate around butane's environmental impact, effectives and safety, but ethanol and alcohol are both commonly acceptable. The solvent liquid is added to the plant material to strip away the cannabinoids. The mixture is then heated to evaporate the solvent leaving the hemp extract oil.
Alcohol is the solvent of choice by many purists who would never consider using non-organic flower for extraction. It is made from plant fermentation and is a by-product of plants themselves, a solvent made by the plants for the plants. In short alcohol helps extract both water soluble and oil soluble components - providing the only true full spectrum product.
Full Spectrum, Isolate and the Entourage Effect
The "Entourage Effect" is what many believe makes full spectrum cannabis so effectively therapeutic. It's the synergistic effect of CBD, other beneficial phytocannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and minerals working together to make them optimally effective. In short, the sum is greater than its parts. Industry experts and researchers overwhelmingly recommend full spectrum.
In contrast, isolate products only contain CBD. All of the other compounds including THC have been stripped away. Although isolate is not our preference, CBD carries a myriad of benefits on its own. It provides utility for those who are seeking a zero THC product or for pets who are highly sensitive to even very small amounts of THC due to a large number of endocannabinoid receptors in their brains.
Not all full spectrum is the same. All hemp that has not gone through the process of isolating CBD is technically full spectrum. However, poorly grown hemp will look a lot like isolate from an analysis perspective. It is important to look at the certificates of analysis (COA) for the cannabinoids and terpene profiles.
We favor minimally processed natural products, limiting science and steps. There are plant strains that supposedly have 85% CBD, super concentrated 4000mg tinctures, nano technologies, fortified tinctures, full spectrum with zero THC, etc. We don't get it, and don't want to put it in your body or ours.
Testing is a critical part of our process to ensure safety, potency and a robust cannabinoid and terpene profile that only full spectrum quality hemp products provide.
Motivations matter, and wise intention was a step on The Path. We know our vendor partners and have visited their fields and facilities. They respect the environment, are active in the local community, believe in phytocannabinoid rich hemp extracts and want to help. We do, too. Enjoy!
If you have any additional questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.