4 Interviews with Colorado’s best concentrate makers

4 Interviews with Colorado’s best concentrate makers

VicesMay 08, 2018 By Spencer J. Ward

No matter what legal state you're in, cannabis concentrates see the largest growth of any other category by a long shot year over year. According to BDS Analytics, Colorado consumers last year bought enough of the stuff to push growth up 37.5 percent compared to 25 percent for edibles and a mere 1.8 for flower. People love dabs.

And we know this all too well. Last month, our THC Classic grew to over 16 categories, much of them hitting concentrates from shatter to vapes, solvent to solventless. But what exactly makes the best concentrates, and whom? 

We linked up with four of Colorado’s best concentrate makers to answer those very questions — two of the best solvent producers in the game, CRX and Harmony Extracts, and two of the best solventless producers in the game, Dablogic and Ken Wall. This is how they do it.

Dan Romao — CRX (Solvent)

How long have you been an extractor and what drew you to the profession?
Dan Romao: "I’ve been doing professional extracting and processing in Colorado since 2014. I came to the industry because of a passion for all things cannabis and concentrates. It’s rewarding to create a product on daily basis that you are proud of, can stand behind, and and know is helping and providing positive experiences for thousands of people."

What is your unique impact on the extraction game?
"CRX has been at the forefront of live resin because of Kind Bill and our great team. I’m very proud of our concentrates, especially our Live Budder."

What’s the hardest thing about staying competitive in today’s market?
"Falling prices and market saturation."

What’s the next big trend in dabbing?
"Live resin cartridges."

What are a couple musicians you're listening to now?
"We listen to everything, punk rock to hip-hop to bluegrass. NOFX, Neutral Milk Hotel, Chrome Sparks been playing."

What’s your reaction to mom and dad telling you they dab?
"Cheers! Let me torch that for you."

Who are your idols in the game and why?
"Anyone in the industry who is doing their thing and taking care of their employees and communities. And cannabis extractors before me, like Kind Bill and Ry Prichard, who helped pave the way and build our foundation of knowledge."

Why'd you choose the solvent camp?
"Yield, flavor, and consistency. Butane live resin extraction best represents the natural flavor and smell profile of a freshly harvested plant."

Will Big Pharma dab?
"My understanding is that Big Pharma is already lobbying against cannabis out of fear it’ll hurt their profits. On the other hand, pharmaceutical companies are making their own cannabis-derived products. If there is money to be made, Big Pharma will be involved."

It's your last Dab in this life. What is it?
"Clementine Live Budder"
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Jeremy Johnson — HARMONY EXTRACTS (Solvent)

How long have you been an extractor and what drew you to the profession?
Jeremy Johnson: "My first extraction was back in about 2005 with a wasp catcher, which is a far cry from today’s closed-loop machines we use. I wanted a quality product with robust flavor that gave a true expression of the plant. Thus hydrocarbon extraction."

What is your unique impact on the extraction game?
"I have been in it since the beginning of the medical boom and have progressed the equipment being used and the legislation that we operate by. I have helped improve the equipment we use from multiple companies including Emotek, Extraction Tek Solution, and Precision. I have traveled the world setting up facilities and ensuring they are set up to operate safely and properly. Bringing the joys of extracts and traveling the world to do so has truly been a blessing."

What’s the hardest thing about staying competitive in today’s market?
"Today’s market is oversaturated creating a ton of competition. That combined with the falling price of cannabis makes it hard to maintain in an ever-changing market."

What’s the next big trend in dabbing?
"I personally believe the portable pen cartridges. The convenience factor and now the purity and potency we have brought to it literally makes dabbing portable."

What are a couple musicians you're listening to now?
"Kevin Gates, Berner, Tom Petty, Prodigy, Hell Yeah, just depends on the day and the mood."

What’s your reaction to mom and dad telling you they dab?
"I’m all for it and have been smoking with my stepdad since I was 18."

Who are your idols in the game and why?  
"I give most of the credit in this business to the growers as they are the ones who make it happen every day. The plants never take a day off and neither does a good grow team. Some of my favorite growers are Ryan Buffkin, Peter Dobson, Karma, and TruCannabliss."

Why'd you choose the solvent camp?
"For the production of quality concentrates hydrocarbon is second to none. You get the highest quality with the best terpene retention possible. Its is easily scalable and can be operated safely if designed and set-up properly."

Will Big Pharma dab?
"Yes, to an extent. I believe their focus will be on terpenes and formulations. Terpenes are one of the true medicinal aspects of the plant that don’t get the full attention they deserve. They are what is the driving force behind the THC and what contribute to your 'Sativa/Indica' effects. They are what will make you want to take a nap or mow your yard. They are also what will help with sleep apnea, headaches, appetite suppression, just to name a few."

It's your last Dab in this life. What is it?
"Papaya ALL DAY! My personal favorite flavor in our garden. It is one of the most special plants I’ve had the luxury of being around."
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KENN WALL (Solventless)

How long have you been an extractor and what drew you to the profession?
Kenn Wall: "I have been been doing cannabis extractions professionally for about 6 years. I started with my best friend Jibs (Trichome Heavy Extracts / THE MELTS) and we processed here locally in Colorado and in California. What drew me to this amazing profession was the lack of happiness I had in my current career at the time (being a Chef) and the lifestyle was wearing on my physical and emotional health. I made a complete lifestyle change, quit smoking cigarettes, quit drinking alcohol, and took the leap for better health for me and my family. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made in life. Don’t be scared to make that plunge."

What is your unique impact on the extraction game?
"I believe my team and I make an impact by always sticking to our ethics and morals. We want to provide a product that we ourselves would partake in and we only work with the absolute best fresh frozen whole plant cannabis cultivators we can find. We stay true to the art and science of Solventless extraction."

What’s the hardest thing about staying competitive in today’s market?
"I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily hard to stay competitive in the market. I’ve seen so many extraction companies come and go because they were trying to be like brand A or band B. Stay true to what you believe is the right product and believe in yourself."

What’s the next big trend in dabbing?
"Next big trend in dabbing? Solventless revolution!"

What are a couple musicians you're listening to now?
"If you know me, I listen to almost everything. Right now I’m super into Chord Marauders, Geode, Bukez Finezt. All time favorites Circa Survive, Converge, Action Bronson, Wu Tang."

What’s your reaction to mom and dad telling you they dab?
"You better be dabbing Solventless!"

Who are your idols in the game and why?
"When I was first entering into High Times cups all over the world I met Aaron from DNA. He directed me and let me knew what was good from the start and he’s always been there and picked up the phone when i call. So if I had one idol in the industry it would be him for sure."

Why’d you choose the solventless camp?
"Honestly, hydrocarbon extractions never excited me. In life, I tend to stick the the natural way."

Will Big Pharma Dab?
"I hope so. Big pharma needs to chill."

It’s your last Dab in this life. What is it?
"OG / Gassy 6 Star Full Melt all dayyyyy."
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Julian Casellas — DABLOGIC (Solventless)

How long have you been an extractor and what drew you to the profession?
Julian Casellas: "I’ve been interested in plants and their properties since I was a kid. My grandma always had me in the garden showing me different plants and telling me about their uses. This got me started on a life interest in growing, caring for and listening to the plants. In junior high I had my house raided and I was caught and charged with manufacturing THC. This made everyone in my family aware that I was a 'stoner.' One day I was helping my grandpa clean out his garage when all of a sudden I came across all this cool looking equipment, not really having any idea what it was used for. But by the end of the day we finally got to talking. He started telling me about how all the weed was so bad back then that they had to extract it with hexane, or ether, and do a process which he called reverse isomerization, essentially converting delta 8/other cannabinoids into delta 9 thc. This sparked my interest, which lead to a lifelong obsession. Solvents were much too dangerous in my eyes, and probably not the best for my health. So I started digging into dry sifting, ice/water separation, and dry ice separation."

What is your unique impact on the extraction game?
"Solventless hash hasn’t always been what it is today. Through the millennia, processes and techniques have been refined to allow for fairly pure resins to be separated from the plant. My goal is to create the purest resins possible, while maintaining the truest profile of the particular strain to deliver the most spiritual, medicinal concentrate available. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with some of the brightest minds in the cannabis industry, which has given me an edge by constantly being able to adapt and develop new techniques, to achieve flavor-rich, highly medicinal forms of solvent-less cannabis concentrate."

What’s the hardest thing about staying competitive in today’s market?
"Today recreational and medicinal markets are still ruled by the underground cannabis scene. Many amazing breeders, growers and hash makers are still on the black market due to the crazy high regulation and money it takes to be a part of the growing legal realm. That being said, finding legal cannabis companies with true love and passion for the plant and planet is a very hard thing to come by in an industry ran by people trying to make a quick buck, cutting every corner possible."

What’s the next big trend in dabbing?
"The next big trend in dabbing is going to be more focused on synergies with cannabis and other plants or fungi."

What are a couple musicians you're listening to now?
"Right now I’m into music that moves the soul. One guy that I can’t get enough of is Porangui. His music is spiritual, tribal, and extremely inspiring. Always have to give a shout out to Phish. A band that I’ve been seeing since I was a kid and their music has been integral in shaping who I am today. We used to throw on shows from the '90s and wash by the jam. The songs and sets calling the washes."

What’s your reaction to mom and dad telling you they dab?
"I believe in everyone's right to dab including mom and dad. We should protect everyone's right to access quality, tested cannabis."

Who are your idols in the game and why?
"I look up to those in this industry trying to unravel misinformation and bring common sense and knowledge. Jeff Lowenfels in particular really had an impact in my broader understanding of plants and how they interact with the soil. These ideas opened me up to a whole new world that I had never paid attention to or had seen."

Why'd you choose the solvent camp?
"I chose to work without solvents because I knew that if I were to really understand and interact with this plant on an in-depth level, I wasn’t just going to need to grow it but I was also going to need to create a powerful medicine which had the potential to change my life or anyone else’s who encountered it."

Will Big Pharma dab?
"Big Pharma does NOT want you to open your mind to all the messed up things going on right under our noses. The dosages and types of concentrate pills that the pharmaceutical companies shell out as ‘medicine’ are laughable. We started the cannabis revolution in order to free ourselves from Big Pharma, from the establishment."

It's your last Dab in this life. What is it?
"Give me some Chem, any chem and I’m set for life."

[cover photo provided by Harmony Extracts]