‘Clean cannabis,’ free of all pesticides or contaminants, has been something many health-conscious consumers have requested and many growers have strived for. But until recently, none have been able to fully achieve.
That’s because the traditional extraction process that turns raw plant matter into oil or concentrates also can concentrates pesticides as well, along with inaccurate amounts of THC, a natural compound that causes temporary mental and physical intoxication.
New Day Cannabis, a grower in Newport, has figured out a better way to remove any contaminants and even separate THC from CBD, another compound known to help with healing, pain relief and reducing inflammation.
The result is not only clean cannabis, but very pure cannabis, said owner Joe Rammell. It also gives New Day the ability to customize specific combinations of THC and CBD and other ingredients that may address certain health conditions.
The higher quality cannabis concentrate is due to new equipment used by the grower, including a European machine, which removes impurities and reclaims any ethanol. The European-built machine was originally intended for the pharmaceutical industry but can work well for American cannabis producers.
“We’ll be able to do this 24 hours a day,” said Rammell. “Minutes after we announced this, I had three growers asking me to clean their oil for them.”
The machinery also has led to the creation of a line of consumer products through New Day’s Medabis Labs medical brand, including a hemp-based CBD concentrate that can be sold anywhere; a high CBD/zero THC hemp/marijuana concentrate that can be sold at Washington cannabis stores; and customized blends of CBD and THC that are also available at licensed cannabis retailers.
New Day will extract and process the plants it grows along with assisting other growers that want their plants or extracted items cleaned, including products that may have failed testing due to the presence of contaminants.
While California requires pesticide testing for all licensed cannabis growers, Washington only requires testing through the Department of Health for products intended for medical use. Recreational products are typically only tested if there’s a specific complaint or investigation, although some retailers have begun performing their own testing as a service to consumers.
States that ban cannabis still allow the sale of hemp products, provided the items include less than .3 percent of THC. But commercial hemp CBD products don’t receive FDA oversight, so quality is often unknown. Some investigations around the country of hemp CBD products have found undisclosed additives, pesticides or higher percentages of THC or less CBD than stated on the label.
“It’s the Wild West out there for CBDs,” Rammell said. “But until federal oversight changes, the only places to get safe CBD products are really the Washington cannabis shops.”
New Day’s new equipment can not only produce different amounts of THC and CBD, but can be adjusted for different flavor/terpene profiles to better address possible health conditions, such as insomnia, anxiety or general pain relief.
Common extraction methods also remove terpenes, which are unique natural flavors in plants, along with cannabinoids, natural compounds that can cause different mental or physical effects. New Day has found ways around this.
Some growers are already experimenting with adding a specific terpene back in after the traditional extraction process strips them out. Rammell said this can work to some degree, but a strain will work better if it retains all the terpenes it’s naturally supposed to have.
“We’re able to isolate the particular profile and figure out ways to make it more effective,” he said.
Rammell is excited about being able to produce something especially for consumers who may have particular health conditions and want a clean product. New Day was the first Washington grower to produce medically-compliant flower as early as 2016.
Later this year, he said New Day also plans to add a line of tinctures to further appeal to consumers seeking pain relief without any of the recreational aspects.
New Day is also offering supplemental training for medical-certified budtenders to learn more about the medical benefits of cannabis and the company’s products. This way, store staff will be more educated when customers come in seeking products especially for health needs.
“We like to say ‘don’t be shy, you won’t get high,’” Rammell said, since some patients can’t or don’t want THC.