Recommended Listening: Tech Noir by Gunship
I get to see the next evolution of great concentrates getting settled into his new lab, and as it always has been; I am left speechless by not only the quality but also the hard work of their lead extractor, Lawrence Lawson. I met Lawrence about two years ago when he was extracting with The Superior Dispensary, and it has been my discovery of the highest quality medicine in Arizona. The lab space I had seen then was for Aeriz when it was first being built, years ago while touring with Midtown Roots, but has since been completed with Lawrence leading the build out along with their extraction team. The finished lab is a simple and easy to maneuver work space, with a streamline design that will showcase the efficiency to produce larger amounts of product without sacrificing quality, as I see every dispensary wanting to carry this recent Errl Cup award winning brand. Simply put, the difference between clean medicine and anything else will be outright.
Lawrence, originally from Alaska, moving to Arizona has been a role-model, as well as one of the few outright brilliant people I’ve met in the cannabis industry here. We arrive at the Aeriz complex, which as always, smells amazing, and we are greeted by Lawrence. We continue in and see Cactus friends like Jon Mojarro and Katie Radas, two of the best in the industry working to make Aeriz stronger every day. We are led down a different corridor than we would take for a grow tour. Instead we are led to the now completed lab, where operations are active with concentrates currently stocked for Errl cup, Lawrence takes time to tour us around the small but dynamic lab space. We first start in the C1D1 Explosion proof room, which is a key component in legal manufacturing of concentrates to protect the extraction team. The room is constantly moving air through and if anything were to go wrong, or if components were to spring a leak; everyone would be safe thanks to this room. The room contains an ETS Mini MEP, which runs a combination propane/butane extraction with an attachment that offers full de-waxing.
Aeriz is having Lawrence run mostly Live Resin, clean fresh-frozen nug runs, and these are done using the Mini MEP. He also makes the crude to make the distillate. He recalls some real success with Gorilla Glues, and I can say that the WiFi or Watermelon Gelato have been amazing. The room is a small work space with constant reminders of safety and compliance. I see a scale which Lawrence points out is explosion proof. We exit the C1D1 room back into the general lab space where we go through the other lab components utilized to make the Aeriz brand of concentrates. Starting in the back left, we have the Roto-Vap, which is an eco-friendly way to aid in the clean-up of work to separate fats, and removing impurities with alcohol which is done with winterization, and the alcohol is recovered using this machine. We move on to the BR Instruments Vacuum Distillation System, originally designed for the oil industry for analytical testing, but now adapted for cannabis.
The BR Distillation System isn’t seen everywhere, and it surprises me. It is almost fully automated, is needed for cartridge production, and can be programmed to handle most procedures on its own. The ease of making pure THC distillate comes down to a program with a set and forget style set-up, Lawrence is smart, so making more out of less is where he thrives. We move to a piece of equipment I haven’t had much experience with, a microwave assisted terpene distiller. Used in combination with the Cascade Dryer and decarboxylation system; after an ice bath, you can draw out the terpenes and other extracts using this system, and then dry it while activating the material using the Cascade Dryer. The lab is streamlined, so aside from some freezers packed with some excellent material, we make it to the opposite side of the room now. A line of vacuum ovens along with its pump take up this wall, and each oven contains something nice in it. The ovens have terpenes and other volatiles pumped out as the extractions are brought to temperature for stabilization. Lawrence takes the time to show us some of his award winning extracts, and talk about everything cannabis, the industry, and the future.
What is the importance of cleanliness in the lab?
If you want a pure medicinal product, you have to treat it like a pure medicinal product. If you go into pharmaceutical labs, you won’t see people with unwashed hair, wearing whatever; instead you have to fit the part. Take pride in the product, by taking pride in the process.
What do you think is the most overlooked side of concentrates right now?
I would say quality, you are going to have your Walmart, that provides a good amount of relief for cheap but the standards of quality don’t have their brand yet. Patients don’t have that brand that is always good, clean, the testing is on, the numbers are good, but I hope to get there.
What do you think about that clouded transparency that can exist between the patient and the products?
Clouded Transparency is a good way of putting it! It’s great that we’re finally requiring testing, it has been a dark spot in Arizona. You have labs out in Washington or Colorado with no regulations, and some that are getting in trouble for doing whatever they want and fudging their numbers. Those are state-licensed labs, so I advise patients to pay attention and trust their senses.
How would you advise patients to do that?
Hold the producers accountable, pay attention to what your body says. If you are having a coughing fit or feel like you’re on fire after a dab, it probably isn’t great for you. echo adrotate_ad(51);
What do you think of people who are exclusive to one type of concentrate?
It depends; some people have medical conditions that only allow for them to use an isolate or distillate. Opposed to that, are the people who benefit greatly from the terpenes, so a diamond with a minute amount of sauce can get full spectrum effects. I suppose everyone has their preference, and they will seek out what works for them.
As people explore their personal chemistry, would you advise them to keep a log?
Yeah, Absolutely! Find what works, and take note of it. I would remind people that if you are dabbing something for a month that’s a favorite, after a month it might not work the same for you. Find 2 or 3 strains that work for you and cycle through those three over time.
Can you help me identify some key components and identifiers of certain concentrates?
Sure, we’ll keep it simple for patients to identify their favorites and better understand how they differ.
Shatter – Resembles panes of window glass and is generally lower in terpenes
Sugar Wax – Texture is from high terpene content
Live Resin – Any extract made from fresh frozen plants
Sauce – Regular BHO extract that’s put into a container that can hold pressure, and as the crystals separate, you are left with terpenes in the form of sauce.
Diamonds – A filtered byproduct from when the extracts crash (separate) into sauce and their crystals (diamonds).
Rosin – A zero solvents concentrate made instead with heat and pressure.
Cured – Same as curing the plant, but the point is to develop cured flavors of the terpenes and alcohols within the extract.
Distillate – Exactly as it sounds, the distilled THC of a cannabis concentrate.
What are your thoughts on the current THC/Cannabinoid studies that exist?
Well, there aren’t enough of them, and many of the government run studies use really terrible product that’s not indicative of the products we use now. If we can get into the various medical benefits of terpenes, but that takes time and money.
Is there anything in the future that will really blow people away?
I’ve often thought about that, but I think it will come down to novel cannabinoids. Biochemists now can take CBG from hemp, and turn it into almost any other cannabinoid. It’s rare now, but it will be commonplace in the future, so people can pick their high.
What does Aeriz have in the future, what can people look for?
Isolates, Rosins, and we are working on our pen line; samples just went out, so you can look for those in the near future.My time spent with Lawrence is enlightening, and it pushes me to keep educating myself and always strive for more knowledge in regards to cannabis. I was able to check out and review some concentrates from Aeriz, and cannot wait for more people to try them. I think the overall idea of quality is about to shift in Arizona, with Lawrence and Aeriz leading the way towards something better. His advice and concern for patients is always practical and worth listening to. I hope to sit down with him again in the future to discuss more about concentrates, and work to provide education about concentrates or how they’re made. I feel, as quality concentrates along with the knowledge of those creating them are discussed, it will slowly reshape how people shop and concern themselves with concentrates. If you are looking for Aeriz concentrates, check out Curaleaf locations, The Good Dispensary, Oasis locations, or leafly for more information. I look forward to working with Aeriz more, and sincerely wish the best for Lawrence along with his new lab to make some truly amazing medicine.
by Adrian Ryan @drogado_del_gato