The City of Flowers
Common wisdom in the cannabis-cultivation community has it that as growers scale up the size of their grow space, the quality of their product inevitably suffers. Indeed, it is quite difficult to produce A-grade flowers in a massive warehouse, but it certainly can be done.
Consider House of Cultivar, the largest marijuana-production facility in greater Seattle, at 40,000 square feet with the capacity for 852 flowering lights. Even with all of that space to manage, the expert horticulture team at Cultivar produces many pounds of connoisseur-quality flowers and top-shelf concentrates. Part of the company’s motto includes the statement “To do right by this plant—seed, root, flower and leaf—every step of the way,” and Cultivar’s clearly devoted to maintaining integrity and best practices throughout the process.
CEO and founder Jason Hutto explains that he and his staff are committed to growing great strains the right way—without pesticides, watered and trimmed by hand, and slowly cured to perfection. So much so that House of Cultivar recently won best indoor grow in Washington State at the 2017 Dope Awards. Cultivar’s commitment to excellence and genetic diversity differentiates it from many others, proving that craft-quality cannabis can be produced on a large scale.
Located in the heart of Seattle, in a previously derelict shipping facility in the SoDo neighborhood, House of Cultivar holds a Tier III indoor-production/processing state license. The company also maintains a strong focus on sustainability and lowering its carbon footprint. When it comes to lighting, water and waste, the House of Cultivar team is always looking for ways to diminish its impact on the environment. The company has even worked with the city to reduce its electrical load by 46 percent off baseline.
Passion for Strains
Another aspect that sets House of Cultivar apart is the team’s commitment to growing and stocking a wide variety of different strains. Between its mother-plant library and its tissue-culture laboratory, Cultivar possesses over 350 unique live genetic specimens. The company’s large stock of seeds comes almost entirely directly from the original breeders. The list of varieties that it grows is staggering, far too many to print here, but suffice it to say that it is vast and filled with gems including OGs, Cookies, Diesels, Chems, Lemons and Sherbets.
These aren’t watered-down versions of these varieties either. The crew that hunted these genetics down did their due diligence, because each and every one of the varieties represents the unique and robust terpene profile that matches its name. Whether it’s something gassy, fruity or earthy, the strains grown at House of Cultivar are the perfect rendition of their potential. Cultivar’s Chem Mint Cookies and Super Glue are two of the most fragrant, potent and amazing varieties I’ve ever sampled.
In particular, House of Cultivar prides itself on its archive of Chem Dog family strains—Chem D, Chem 91, Guava, Snowdog and many more—and the Cultivar staff has searched for the phenos that test high in THC and have the most essential-oil production. As a longtime Chem-strain fan, I was impressed by the quality and quantity of Cultivar’s archive.
Although it still employs traditional cloning techniques, House of Cultivar also maintains a completely sterile tissue-culture laboratory in order to preserve, improve and micropropagate its vast library of genetics. The facility has a magnetic locking-door system to avoid cross-contamination and state-of-the-art equipment for clean regeneration practices. House of Cultivar’s director of lab operations, Mike Hydro, gives me a guided tour and explains exactly what he and his team are looking to accomplish by using tissue-culture technology.
Think of tissue culture as cloning, but on the cellular level. A tiny fragment of an emerging node, a callus the size of a pinhead, is carefully cut from a plant and then suspended in agar inside a test tube. These disease-free plantlets can then be used for a variety of purposes depending on the needs of the laboratory.
The benefits of utilizing tissue-culture techniques include ridding plant stock of pests, diseases and pathogens. Mold- or insect-damaged genetic material that would normally have to be discarded can be cleansed and restored to its true original and robust potential. Topical issues such as pest damage can be handled in one generation while bacterial and fungal issues may take multiple generations of micropropagation to mitigate. In this way, House of Cultivar’s genetics can be preserved in vitro and stored for many years in its cryogenic freezer and even improved upon over time.
Another advantage of micropropagation is for rapid multiplication of plants. One healthy mother plant can produce thousands of explants, which are then coaxed into rooted cuttings ready for the vegetative stage of growth. Conventional cloning produces just a fraction of these amounts. I’ve seen tissue-culture labs in action all over the world, but this was the first time I’ve witnessed commercial cannabis production using micropropagated plants. Watching the team at House of Cultivar put this cutting-edge technology into practice gave me a glimpse into the future of cannabis cultivation.
The cultivation chambers at House of Cultivar are climate-controlled using a full dew-point-managed HVAC system with HEPA filtration and advanced biocontrol. Flowering plants are lit with a combination of multi-spectrum ceramic metal halide (CMH) lighting and double-ended high-pressure sodium (HPS) fixtures. The use of the CMH systems reduces energy consumption by over 50 percent!
The plants, grown in a blend of RHP-certified organic Cloud Coir coco and perlite, clearly love the mixed-spectrum lighting. They glisten with swollen glandular trichomes whose bulbous heads are filled with the essential oils. These terpenes, cannabinoids and flavinoids are what give the stellar strains their aromas, flavors and effects. Whether growing for flower or concentrate production, the proper preservation of these pungent and potent organic compounds is what separates the best from the rest.
The vegetative and flowering areas are in opposite areas of the complex to ensure that their environmental conditions are optimal for each individual stage of plant life. Water passes through multiple filtration treatments including RO (reverse osmosis). Facility architect and vice president of operations Matthew Gaboury takes me through the various parts of the House of Cultivar complex and explains how it all works together to produce high-quality cannabis and concentrates.
The eight 90-light flowering rooms are staggered at two weeks apart, allowing House of Cultivar to harvest perpetually. This ensures that a fresh product reaches the marketplace in a regular and timely fashion. The rooms are filled with plant beds on rolling trays. Plants in coco cubes sit on top of the coco-perlite mix, eliminating the need for individual plastic pots and reducing water waste due to runoff by over 20 percent.
Washington State cannabis regulations don’t allow growers to use pesticides of any kind. House of Cultivar uses a system of OMRI-certified organic IMP (integrated pest management) consisting of only biological controls including predator mites, nematodes and beneficial fungi that outcompete powdery mildew (PM) in the root zone. The predatory mites attack the larvae of fungus gnats, thrips and root aphids as well as full-grown broad, spider and russet mites.
All plants are flushed for 10-12 days from harvest with only plain water and natural enzymes. Plants are hung to dry whole and intact to preserve the “nose” of the flowers. Drying takes place in hermetically sealed chambers with antimicrobial wallboard and their own HVAC system to dial in environmental controls. At the perfect temperature and humidity levels, terpene preservation is at the maximum.
Leaves are left on the plant during the drying process to protect the fragile trichome glands. Humidity is kept at 56-60 percent to slow the process. The flowers then undergo a dry trim. No machines are used. All of the colas are hand-trimmed with scissors by a crew before being placed into containers to cure. Drying takes place for two weeks and curing takes one to two weeks minimum. At the moment, Cultivar is pulling approximately 75-85 pounds of dry flowers per room.
Products and Packaging
Only the premium nugs go into flower packages. Trim and smaller buds are saved for processing into extracts and Goldfinger pre-rolls, which are infused-flower joints painted with a sticky distillate/terpene-honey mix and then rolled in dry-sifted trichome glands. This results in a dipped and dusted slow-burning, flavorful spliff that can get a whole roomful of smokers quite high. They’re currently available in five different flavors with more soon to come.
House of Cultivar’s vice president and head of processing, Alex Parisi, shows me a few of the company’s processing and extraction capabilities. Cultivar produces hydrocarbon extractions for distillates and strain-specific CO2 vape carts using an Eden 20-liter CO2 machine. A hydraulic press also provides award-winning rosin squeezed from flowers and dry sift. House of Cultivar has become known throughout Washington for its flavorful and potent concentrates.
Ultimately, I learned that the crew at House of Cultivar are true connoisseurs. As aficionado-level cannabis consumers themselves, they want the best pot products they can find. As committed cultivators, they’ve adapted to the challenges of growing big. What they showed me confirms that growers in larger spaces don’t have to sacrifice quality, as long as they emphasize strain selection, proper growing techniques and a passion for the plant, from seed to sale.
This feature was published in the April 2018 issue of High Times magazine. Subscribe right here.
The post Inside Seattle’s House of Cultivar appeared first on High Times.
1. What is CBD? What is CBD Oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring constituent of industrial hemp/cannabis. Its formula is C21H30O2 and it has a molecular mass of 314.4636. It is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, and is being scientifically investigated for various reasons.
CBD oil is a cannabis oil (whether derived from marijuana or industrial hemp, as the word cannabis is the latin genus name for both) that has significant amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) contained within it. Our CBD products and extracts are derived from industrial hemp, so they could be considered CBD-rich hemp oil, hemp derived CBD oil, CBD-rich cannabis oil, or plainly “hemp extracts” since they typically contain much more than just CBD. Again, cannabis doesn’t mean marijuana, but is the genus name, and general umbrella term which all forms of marijuana and hemp fall under. The form of cannabis we use for our CBD and hemp extracts is industrial hemp; we do not sell marijuana.
2. If a hemp extract is 40% cannabinoids, what’s the other 60%? What’s in your hemp extracts besides the naturally occurring cannabinoids?
Our Kentucky hemp extracts contain over 80 different phyto-cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), CBC, CBG, CBN, etc.. In addition to the cannabinoids naturally present in our agricultural hemp extracts, there are also many other types of natural molecules and phyto-chemical compounds such as amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins (including B1, B2, B6, D), fatty acids (including omega 3 & 6), trace minerals (including iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium), beta-carotene, chlorophyll, flavanoids, ketones, nitrogenous compounds, alkanes, glycosides, pigments, water, and terpenes. The most common terpenes in our hemp extracts are Myrcene, Beta-caryophyllene, Terpinolene, Linalool, alpha-Pinene, beta-Pinene, Nerolidol og Phytol, trans-alpha-Bergamotene, Limonene/ beta-Phellandrene (Co-elution), and alpha-Humulene.
3. What’s the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?
Scientifically, industrial Hemp and Marijuana are the same plant, with a genus and species name of Cannabis Sativa. They have a drastically different genetic profile though. Industrial Hemp is always a strain of Cannabis sativa, while marijuana can be Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis. The major difference is how industrial hemp has been bred compared to a marijuana form of Cannabis sativa. Typically speaking, industrial hemp is very fibrous, with long strong stalks, and barely has any flowering buds, while a marijuana strain of Cannabis sativa will be smaller, bushier, and full of flowering buds. However, newer industrial hemp varieties in the USA are being bred to have more flowers and higher yields of cannabinoids and terpenes, such as our Kentucky hemp we’re now using!
99% of the time marijuana has a high amount of THC and only a very low amount of CBD. Hemp, on the other hand, naturally has a very high amount of CBD in most instances, and only a trace amount of THC. Fortunately, the cannabinoid profile of hemp is ideal for people looking for benefits from cannabis without the ‘high.’ Hemp is used for making herbal supplements, food, fiber, rope, paper, bricks, oil, natural plastic, and so much more, whereas marijuana is usually used just recreationally, spiritually, and medicinally. The term cannabis oil can refer to either a marijuana or hemp derived oil, since marijuana and hemp are two different forms of cannabis.
In the USA the legal definition of “industrial hemp,” per Section 7606 of the Agricultural Appropriations Act of 2014, is “INDUSTRIAL HEMP — The term ‘‘industrial hemp’’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
4. Are hemp derived cannabinoids such as CBD as good as CBD from marijuana?
The short answer is yes. CBD is CBD, whether from marijuana or hemp. Most marijuana has a very low non-psychoactive cannabinoid profile (like CBD, CBC, CBG), so most of the time hemp would be much more preferable for anything besides THC. Marijuana is usually very high in THC (gives people the high) but usually very low in other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.
Nowadays in the USA, many farmers are growing industrial hemp flowers that are just as beautiful, odor-producing, and terpene rich as the best marijuana strains, such as our partnered farmers in Kentucky.
5. Why don’t you source your Hemp and CBD from within Colorado?
We feel that the hemp program in Kentucky is more well suited for our company in regards to growing hemp, and that because it’s 100% compliant with Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill (and the 2016 Agricultural Appropriations Act), procuring it from there is perfectly legal at the federal level. Kentucky’s ecology is perfect for hemp just as it is for tobacco. The growing season is longer than in Colorado, and the soil is richer, so the quality of the hemp and the yields are better.
6. What’s the percentage of cannabinoids and CBD in your product?
Our raw extracts have varying percentages of cannabinoid and cannabidiol (CBD) content, the range being 10%-99%. Each product has a unique formulation and uses varying ratios of our extract types. Our CBD Isolate is over 99% pure CBD.
7. What is the best method of use?
For our dietary supplements we can only recommend them for internal consumption. Our CBD isolate is for research purposes only. If you don’t like the flavor of the oil supplements, you can mix with something sweet like apple sauce or honey to cut through the flavor.
8. What’s the ideal serving size for me, and how often should I take it?
There is no easy answer to this. Our starting recommended serving size is 15 drops but we generally recommend experimenting to see what feels best to you. Some prefer 5 drops, some prefer over 50 drops per day.
9. What is the safety of your hemp extracts? Are there negative side effects?
Hemp is considered by many to be generally safe. We’ve never seen or heard of any significant or negative side effects in our years in the industry. That said, we can’t rule them out. Please consult with your physician before using any dietary supplement including Hemp extract supplements.
10. Which of your CBD and hemp products should I get?
As a company who sells various dietary and food supplements, we can’t suggest any of our products for the prevention, treatment or cure of any disease or ailment.
When considering our different dietary hemp products, know that they all come in two strengths. Our Original Hemp blends (Classic Hemp Blend, Hemp Complete, Brainpower oil, & Signature Blend) all have 250+mg of cannabinoids per fluid ounce, and our concentrated blends have 1,500+mg per fluid ounce, six times the potency of our traditional oils. We’ve found that sometimes less is more, but nevertheless, some people like to take very large serving sizes of our hemp extracts.
The main difference between the four Original Blends is the additional herbal ingredients besides hemp. We suggest you research the separate components of each blend to determine which product may be most appealing to add to your dietary regimen. If you know it’s solely the hemp extract that you are looking for, with no additional ingredients, then Classic Hemp Blend or Classic Hemp 6x is what you’re looking for.
For dabbing and vaporizing or for research you can try our CBD Isolate.
THOSE WHO SUSPECT THEY MAY HAVE A DISEASE OR ARE SEEKING HELP FOR A DISEASE SHOULD CONSULT A QUALIFIED MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.
11. Why do people use Hemp Extracts and CBD? What are the benefits and uses of CBD?
In accordance with federal regulations we cannot make health claims regarding our dietary supplement products. We can only recommend our products for general wellness.
12. Is a standard hemp seed oil the same as a high-CBD hemp extract?
Absolutely not. Standard hemp oil, which can be found very cheaply at a grocery store, is a much different product than our CO2 hemp extracts (not from seed). Standard hemp oil is produced by cold pressing the seeds, whereas our hemp extract is a supercritical CO2 extraction of the hemp plant itself, not the seeds. Hemp seed oil is considered to be a great nutritive food, but it doesn’t have the naturally occurring terpenes, cannabinoids and other components that our extracts do have.
13. Do I need to move to Colorado to get your Hemp Extracts and CBD? Where do you ship?
No. We actually source our hemp from Kentucky, as it’s legal to ship across state lines. Many people are under the impression that the only way to acquire hemp extracts and CBD for themselves or a loved one is to move to Colorado or another cannabis-friendly state. Many major news outlets are misinformed and are unfortunately spreading the idea that you can only get CBD oil in the states where medical marijuana has been legalized. This is simply not the case though. Because our extracts comes from hemp instead of marijuana, we can and do ship to all fifty states, and no medical marijuana card is needed. There are some exceptions, like with Indiana, Missouri and South Dakota we can’t sell our concentrated products due to state legislation.
We also ship to Japan, Australia, the EU, Switzerland, and Brazil. For all EU orders contact our exclusive distributor there, Cannawell.
14. Is your Hemp Extract Oil similar to Rick Simpson Hemp Oil?
Not quite. Ours are from hemp and RSHO is usually using marijuana, a different form of cannabis than industrial hemp. Our industrial hemp extracts are more standardized and will usually have a much higher content of non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD than one produced through the Rick Simpson method. And oils produced through his method will usually have a much higher THC content, as it’s typically marijuana that is used for RSHO.†
Generally speaking, most marijuana producers and sellers (especially on the black market) don’t test for contaminants (metals, pesticides, bacteria, etc.). Rick Simpson Hemp Oil is actually more a method of extraction than it is a specific product. People use the Rick Simpson method with hundreds of different strains of marijuana, so the THC, CBD and other cannabinoid content of the final oil is always varying greatly, depending on the cannabis the consumers are acquiring. Usually what’s used for Rick Simpson oil is a strain with an inferior CBD content (and high THC), because that’s what the vast amount of marijuana is nowadays.
15. Where do you source your hemp and CBD from?
We have partners in Kentucky who grew a dedicated plot for us this year (2016) which is being used in our products now. We also currently source from Europe but we’ll be changing that soon.
16. What kind of testing/analysis is performed on your products?
We have an industry leading quality control system, and we have third party laboratories analyze all of our hemp extracts and our final products for cannabinoid potency, heavy metals, bacterial and microbial life, mycotoxins (fungus), and pesticides.
17. What is CO2 extraction? What’s the difference between subcritical and supercritical CO2 extractions?
CO2 extraction is an extraction process that uses pressurized carbon dioxide to extract phyto-chemicals (such as CBD, CBG, or terpenes, flavonoids, etc.) from a plant. CO2 at certain temperatures and pressures acts like a solvent, without the dangers of actually being one. It is the most expensive extraction method, and is widely considered the most effective and safest plant extraction method in the world.
Many hemp and CBD companies boast about their supercritical CO2 extractions, but that’s actually only one (and perhaps an inferior) method of using a CO2 extraction machine. There are also subcritical CO2 extractions, and ‘mid-critical’, a general range between subcritical and supercritical. Subcritical (low temp, low pressure) CO2 extractions take more time and produce smaller yields than super-critical, but they retain the essential oils, terpenes, and other sensitive chemicals within the plant. Supercritical, on the other hand, is a high pressure and high temperature process that damages most terpenes and heat sensitive chemicals, but can extract much larger molecules such as lipids (omega 3 and 6), chlorophyll, and waxes. A truly full-spectrum CO2 extract includes first performing a subcritical extraction, separating the extracted oil, and then extracting the same plant material using supercritical pressure, and then homogenizing both oil extracts into one. In the essential oil industry, an extract made using this specific process is referred to as a CO2 Total.
18. What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?
“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the mammalian brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, consisting of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors.” Wikipedia
There are two main types of receptors in the ECS, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the central nervous system and brains of mammals, and CB2 are generally found in the peripheral nervous system. There are two main cannabinoids mammals produce- 2AG and Anandamide (named after the Sanskrit term “ananda” which translates to “peace”).
For hundreds of millions of years every vertebrate on Earth has been equipped with this ECS, a crucial system in the body, and it has been known about in the scientific and medical communities since the 1980’s. However, it’s still not taught about in most medical schools.