The CBD industry is not slowing down anytime soon-- and the evolution of the industry as it continues to expand, thanks in part to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, will bring with it new challenges. Discover CBD has been operating in some capacity or another in Colorado Springs since 2015, growing into a complete manufacturing facility with an ISO 7 cleanroom, a bustling ecommerce site, and brick and mortar stores in several states.
Our franchise director Corey Hartley has been with the team since the very early days. He worked his way through different positions within the company and shares his thoughts on the evolution of the cannabis industry, how cannabinoids work with the body, and how to find high-quality products.
Q: Where did your journey with Discover CBD begin?
A: I started with Discover CBD as a customer service representative in our first store, and I now help manage our franchise and vending machine programs. I have had an interest in cannabis for over half my life and am fascinated by the biological mechanisms that enable cannabis plants to produce the myriad of benefits they provide. When I am not working, I prefer to be hiking the peaceful mountain meadows and thrilling peaks around Colorado.
Q: What do you think is the key to success in the cannabis industry?
A: A passion for the cannabis plant should be the first requirement to be involved in the industry, and I think it is necessary for success. By sharing a connection with the plant, it drives you to create higher quality products, to overcome all the difficulties encountered in the industry, and helps you relate to your customers and the rest of the cannabis community.
Q: What makes Active CBD oil products different from others on the market?
A: Honestly, a high quality CBD oil from one brand should be very close to a quality oil from another brand. The industry needs more consistency so consumers can develop trust in CBD products. That being said, there are numerous products that have unique features which help bring out the full potential effectiveness of the CBD or other cannabinoids, such as CBG or CBN. We manufacture the brand Active CBD Oil in Colorado Springs and offer a full range of options for different routes of administration which really determine how the CBD will interact with the system. Swallowing a supplement or medication is extremely common for the benefits of long duration, such as with vitamins or an NSAID. However, we know fat soluble cannabinoids are absorbed very poorly and inconsistently when swallowed. My favorite products are our water soluble CBD, CBG, and CBN options, because they overcome this drawback to swallowing cannabinoids. Our water soluble formula consistently produces significantly increased CBD absorption compared to oil based delivery. I have seen data from a double blind pharmacokinetic study in humans for our formula, which I cannot say for many other formulas on the market.
Q: Do you have any specific approaches in producing Active CBD oil products?
A: We strive for transparency, which in my opinion should be more common in the industry. We label our products as clearly as possibly, so the customer has no questions about what they are receiving. The customer can easily find the total cannabinoid content and the concentration per dosage. Each product batch contains a unique identifier that links to a third party lab report for that batch. Customers can easily find and access lab reports with a QR code on the bottle or via our website. Along with our goals of producing the highest quality product possible, we utilize an ISO 7 certified cleanroom for making products. We also happen to be lucky to be based in a state that is willing to support the hemp industry, so we have a distinction unavailable in some states thanks to our facilities being certified for food grade manufacturing by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Q: Discover CBD stores are located in several states outside of Colorado. Were there any difficulties in opening up new locations?
A: The cannabis industry is a challenge from the very beginning! There are substantial hurdles in the cannabis industry throughout the process of opening a store. One of the main roadblocks for the cannabis industry, even for us on the hemp side, is banking. The 2018 Farm Bill helped the situation but significant issues still exist. Landlords often refuse to rent to CBD businesses. Many people don’t fully understand the difference between hemp and high-THC cannabis, so more education is necessary in many parts of the country. Also, since there is no consistent federal regulation for the industry, each state or even city is left to interpret the farm bill differently, which has added to the difficulty of operating stores throughout the country as laws swiftly change.
Q: What does CBD actually do to a person’s body?
A: There could easily be a full college course answering this question, and it would still be an incomplete answer due to the fact we do not yet fully understand the mechanisms underlying CBD’s activity. Based on the available research, CBD’s main effects within the classic endocannabinoid system include 1) binding FABP to inhibit endocannabinoid reuptake and
2) producing negative allosteric modulation of CB1 (which reduces THC’s psychoactivity). However, most of the molecular targets and effects of CBD actually occur outside the endocannabinoid system. There are too many possible mechanisms to mention, however the best evidence currently suggests that CBD: induces activation of the serotonergic receptor 5-HT1A (which also could modify glutamate signaling and may produce an antidepressant effect), causes inhibition of adenosine reuptake (possibly producing anticonvulsant, cardiovascular, and neuroprotective effects), desensitizes TRPV1 channels (implicated in seizures, pain sensation, and anxiety), alters gene expression through the nuclear receptor PPAR-gamma (impacting metabolic processes), and blocks the little understood receptor GPR55 (which is being investigated for involvement in a range of mechanisms from osteoporosis to pain to seizures). CBD also alters the activity of a number of enzymes in the liver which metabolize many common medications, changing the way they affect the body when taken with CBD.
Q: What hemp is used for ?
A: Hemp is such a versatile plant. To mention only a few options, it is used for fiber in textiles, for building materials like pressed hemp boards and hempcrete, as food for humans and animals, to extract cannabinoids, and to remediate soil.
Q: Is hemp legal?
A: Based on the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp, hemp extracts, and hemp derived cannabinoids are legal federally in the US as long as the concentration of delta-9-THC does not exceed 0.3%. Legality can still vary based on state and local law.
Q: Is hemp a drug?
A: No, hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant. It may produce a molecule, delta-9-THC, that is widely considered to be a drug, however the law defines an allowable concentration of THC in hemp that is so low it is unable to produce intoxication. Hemp can also produce CBD, which arguably could be called a drug under many common usages of the word, just as you could call any biologically active molecule or plant, such as coffee or ibuprofen a drug. Amazon lists CBD and rich hemp oil under their prohibited drug and drug paraphernalia page. However, “drug” often possesses a more negative connotation than medication or supplement, so in other ways the word drug does not fit well even for CBD.
Q: What is your view on nutrients/chemicals used in growing and extraction?
A: We like to see zero chemicals used and if that’s not possible then we like to see things minimally processed and solvents purged as low as physically possible. Clearly no chemicals in any concentration that could cause bodily harm should be contained within any product
a human is meant to ingest.
Q: What’s your attitude toward THC? Why?
A: I am really grateful for THC. It was the first cannabinoid I learned about and had the opportunity to try, and THC still remains the cannabinoid I use most frequently. Nothing I have found helps nausea and appetite like THC. However, THC also has unfortunately overshadowed the other components of the cannabis plant for the entirety of its modern usage, and it is very exciting that other cannabinoids are now available such as CBD, CBG, and CBN. THC has some concerning potential side effects when used in high doses (such as anxiety, seizures, memory loss, and psychotic effects), but amazingly CBD may reduce these same concerns based on preliminary research. I’d go so far as to say if you are using very high doses of THC, it might be worthwhile to consider balancing it with a small ratio of CBD, such as 20:1 or 10:1 THC:CBD. Products containing THC that also have other components of cannabis, such as minor cannabinoids and terpenes, are often better balanced products with broader benefits due to an interaction known as the entourage effect. As a personal example, I prefer strains that have 15-20% THC, up to 1% CBD, and a distinct terpene profile, rather than a strain that was selected to produce 30% THC at the expense of other desirable traits.
Q: If you could smoke with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would it be and why?
A: We would all love to have a chance to sit down with Mary Jane Rathbun. Lovingly known as “Brownie Mary,” she was an inspiring cannabis activist and hospital volunteer who we appreciate for her role to initiate changes in cannabis law across the country. In the 1980s, Mary Jane became known for baking hundreds of pot brownies each day which she would then provide for free to patients suffering from AIDS. Multiple arrests of this grandmotherly figure due to producing the brownies into the early 90s were highly publicized and highlighted the benefits of cannabis and the plight those trying to access relief faced. Fortunately, all charges were eventually dropped and the public attention helped garner momentum supporting the first laws allowing medical marijuana in California in 1992 and 1996. Rathbun was driven to increase access to the benefits of cannabis in order to help others regardless of the risk to herself, and we continue to be inspired by her legacy.