FEBRUARY 21, 2019
THE EARLY DAYS OF EVOLAB | THEN AND NOW
Dream to Reality
In 2009, as Colorado’s medical cannabis laws began to change, Alex Cahoj tended to the plants in his basement, and thought about the potential cannabis held. With new regulations being put into place, he knew he needed to find a space where he could go after his goals.
As his first cultivation facility was built and he began to focus on the future, ever changing laws forced him to implement vertical integration which left him wondering how he would be able to rapidly add product manufacturing and/or a dispensary. After hours of brainstorming, he formulated a plan to buy a MIP (Marijuana Infused Product) license and a storefront located on Federal Blvd., in Denver, Colorado.
“As soon as we got into our processing space, we bought the first Apeks CO2 extractor because, back in those days, butane extraction was very dirty -- so we chose to go with CO2,” Cahoj says.
After acquiring the extractor, Cahoj became fascinated with the potential of this technology to revolutionize cannabis processing. As laws changed, he decided with his team to sell the grow and dispensary to solely focus on creating new extraction technology. Thus, Evolab was born.
In the early days, wax and shatter were popular throughout the industry. Cahoj’s products would eventually be classified as sauce, which was a new concept to consumers at the time. With limited resources, Cahoj and his team were challenged to go beyond the norm of creating concentrates focused only on THC percentages, to develop an extraction process that accurately represents the profile of the flower within the final extract. With the help of custom developed technology, Cahoj and his team were able to create the cleanest form of distillate paired with a full spectrum of strain specific terpenes, so that consumers could experience authentic flavors and effects that matched their favorite flower.
“There were a lot of late nights in the lab with the team figuring and refining our processes. We have evolved from crude extraction techniques to fractioning and isolating compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes,” explains Cahoj. “These days, we run a full analytical suite using GCMS and HPLC. The HPLC is what we use to test cannabinoids and the GCMS is what we use to test the terpenes. Now, we have data to compare flower to extract, so we can directly see that the profile matches the starting material.”
Evolab’s next innovation was solving the cutting agent problem. Cannabis concentrates that are very high purity are viscous, thick substances. In vape cartridges, these concentrates do not properly vaporize unless changed to a more liquid form. Many companies use cutting agents including PEGs (polyethylene glycols), glycerin, MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) and other chemicals to liquefy extracts.
The Evolab team created a process that was unique in the industry. As an alternative to these potentially harmful and understudied chemicals, the team developed a Cannabis Derived Cutting Agent (CDCA) so that consumers could enjoy a highly concentrated cannabis extract with no additives - nothing but cannabinoids, terpenes and plant compounds.
The Future of Cannabis
As the industry grows and becomes more competitive, operators will continue to be challenged by ongoing regulation and compliance changes, as well as an increasingly educated customer base that is learning more about the importance of trusted, clean products.
Colorado and other states have cracked down on pesticides used within grows and have caused many concentrate companies to pull their products off shelves. Meanwhile in states like California and Florida, many vape cartridges have been recalled due to testing turning up toxic levels of arsenic, lead and other heavy metals.
“We have always been extremely diligent in understanding not just what goes into our products, but what happens when those concentrates are vaporized,” explains Cahoj. “In addition to avoiding potentially harmful additives like diacetyl contained in many artificial flavorings and cutting agents that can degrade to benzene and formaldehyde, we have an internal R&D laboratory staffed by a team of chemists. We also work with multiple testing labs, both in the cannabis industry, and from other sectors, so that additional advanced testing can be performed. We strive to have the highest quality, most consistent products available to consumers, while maintaining absolute integrity and safety.”
For Evolab, the sky's the limit. In recent news, our brands and technology were acquired by Arizona based Harvest Inc., a vertically integrated company with an unrivaled national footprint. What does this mean for us? We’ve become a national brand overnight and are giving our ever expanding community the opportunity to buy our products in their hometown. No, this doesn’t mean we’re changing. If anything our morals and values still coexist with our process and technology more than ever. We’re just becoming a bigger family and you’re all a part of it. Like we’ve always said, this wouldn’t be possible without all of you.