The ‘green’ rush at ExtraktLAB
Driving through rural Wisconsin, signs are beginning to appear at storefronts that would be illegal only a short time ago. Those signs might read, “Organic CBD products here,” or, “Locally grown hemp products.” Now, those signs are commonplace, and CBD products are sold everywhere from pharmacies, to grocery stores, to gas stations.
ExtraktLAB, one of the leading cannabis extract companies in the industry, has manufactured one of those products, Holus CBD, in Osceola since 2018. The Sun took the opportunity to speak with CEO, Dr. Jon Thompson, about the realities of the CBD industry boom in Wisconsin.
“Right now, it gets a lot of scrutiny because at this time last year it was Schedule One,” says Thompson. “If I didn’t have a license then, and I was outside with these products, I could have gone to federal prison… It kind of blows your mind.”
Until 2014, Cannabidiol (CBD) was federally illegal under Schedule One by the DEA. Other drugs on that list include marijuana, heroin and LSD. These drugs are listed to have among the highest abuse potential with no accepted medical use. After research revealed that CBD was not psychoactive, and did not create a “high” like other drugs, it was removed from Schedule One.
Despite that action, the FDA has imposed strict guidelines for companies like ExtraktLAB in how they produce and market their products.
“With a company like ours, the FDA has really hemmed us in on what we can say about our product,” says Thompson. “We don’t put anything on our labels other than what’s in them. If I were to put on the web that, ‘this can help with your pain,’ that, ‘this can cure your anxiety,’ that would be a claim which could get us in a lot of trouble. So, what we do is just allow everyone else to talk about our products.”
This “word of mouth” marketing is often a successful one in the CBD industry. Many testimonies say that CBD is a successful treatment for seizures, anxiety, depression, pain, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other illnesses. However, due to the very recent legal status of CBD, the amount of research needed for the FDA to support these claims has not yet been conducted. Even with further research, however, Thompson thinks that there will always be limitations.
“I think there will always be restrictions, but they will be well defined as to what can and can’t be said,” he says. “There are some things that we just don’t know about it yet. For example, if you’re pregnant, maybe you shouldn’t take it. There’s no evidence to say that there are any negative affects, but why take the risk? Or, let’s say you take tremendous amounts of it- gratuitous amounts of CBD –the FDA has recently pointed out that you could have liver issues. These are things that need to be investigated. You have to have science behind it, otherwise it’s nothing.”
And science seems to be at the forefront of ExtraktLAB’s CBD products. Where many “gas station” CBD companies are using “old school” methods of extraction that could lead to contamination, or an adulterated product according to Thompson, ExtrakLab has attained Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) compliance in the state of Wisconsin for safety, quality and efficacy of products like Holus CBD. ExtraktLAB is also certified organic by the USDA and ISO certified for the equipment they use.
Not only do these dedications to quality create a product that is superior to their competitors, it also ensures that the product is safe to use. Because of the rising boom in this industry, other companies are not dedicated to safety and quality making products questionable at best.
“A lot of people are doing this, but they don’t have a clue – they’re just trying to make a buck,” says Thompson. “We bought some from the gas station and tested it – it doesn’t have anything in it. It says ‘CBD’ on it, but it has maybe one-percent of what’s on the label… That happens at the beginning of an industry and that’s why the FDA is going to make moves to regulate and rein it in. Those brands will go away as they can no longer comply with the laws that are being put forth.”
Those interested in trying these products should always consider the source from which they are purchasing, and do their own research before trying them. As CBD and hemp products become more readily available in Wisconsin, the industry will likely continue its fast moving upward trend.
“It’s definitely growing,” says Thompson. “It’s definitely going to get bigger. There are going to be larger players, but a lot of people are just making money while they can, any way they can. We’re in this industry for the long haul.”