Article by Daniel Oberhaus, Motherboard
About five miles from Denver’s dispensary district, otherwise known as the Green Mile, sits a small, unassuming building on the western bank of the Platte River. If it weren’t for the barred windows and keypad door locks, it would be difficult to tell that anything remarkable was happening on the other side of the building’s red brick façade. Pass through the door, however, and the building reveals itself to be a hive of activity: scientists in white lab coats bring beakers in and out of a door marked “DO NOT ENTER,” a honeycomb of cubicles house PR and sales reps typing with one hand and answering a phone with other, and a small army of technicians are busy using syringes to fill tiny glass vials with a viscous golden nectar.
This is the home of Organa Labs, the largest producer of cannabis oils on the planet. Every ten seconds someone in the US purchases one of Organa’s products, be it a dab, energy drink or gummy bear, but it is Organa’s ultra-pure cannabis oil distillates—the golden syrup being put into those vials—that really makes the laboratory tick.
In late October, Organa announced the release of Bakked distillates, a product line with cannabis oils that have cannabinoid contents with up to 97 percent activated THC. On the same day the Bakked distillates line was unveiled, I went to visit Organa labs to see how they turned Colorado’s favorite flower into the most potent cannabis oil on the market.
The key to making a potent cannabis distillate begins with the bud. Organa works with dozens of marijuana cultivators in Colorado and it isn’t uncommon to see upwards of 2000 pounds of cannabis pass through its doors in a given month. Although some of Organa’s products are a mixture of trim—the leaves of the cannabis plant—and buds, its top-shelf oils like the 97 percent Bakked distillate use only the flower. As Organa’s president Chris Driessen likes to put it, “we cut our weed with weed.”
The potency of the buds sourced by Organa determines how much extract they yield. On the best of days, Organa scientists can get a 15 percent yield, meaning 15 grams of flower produces one gram of distillate oil that pushing 90 percent THC. Given this relatively low yield, the quality of the flower really matters, which is why Organa turns to growers like Tim Cullen at the Colorado Harvest Company for their raw input.