Veronica Carpio is on the cutting edge of cultivating hemp in North America. She tells how we can think about the hemp opportunity, the ins and outs of growing hemp and about her tasty hemp coffee, called Colorado Hemp Coffee.
[1:22] – Veronica explains how she became involved in the hemp industry.
[2:08] – The evolution of hemp importation to now domestic growing
[3:25] – How hemp seed is sterilized
[4:11] – Characteristics of hemp
[5:51] – Compare and contrast hemp and cannabis
[8:13] – How does hemp help restore the environment?
[10:20] – Federal guidelines on hemp
[12:24] – Extracting CBD from hemp
[16:33] – Most common questions asked by people looking to get started with hemp
[18:36] – Veronica explains hemp coffee
[22:27] – How to learn more about Veronica’s coffee and hemp farming
Our next guest is a hemp advocate and business owner. She’s the owner of Colorado Hemp Coffee and actively cultivates hemp herself. I am pleased to welcome Veronica Carpio to CannaInsider today. Welcome Veronica.
Veronica: Hi everybody, thanks for having me.
Matthew: Now Veronica can you give listeners a sense of geography, where are you in the world today?
Veronica: Yes, I’m located in Boulder, Colorado. I’m a native from Colorado, and I currently work and live in Boulder.
Matthew: A rare native. They’re elusive.
Veronica: Yeah it used to be everyone was a native, but that’s changed.
Matthew: Now what’s your background on hemp? How did you get involved in the hemp industry?
Veronica: Well my background came from the marijuana world originally. I was involved with dispensaries and stuff like this for quite a while. And then I would say I evolved to hemp. So I started doing hemp quite a while ago. I would say about three years ago, and I started that primarily for my hemp coffee product. So I wanted to try to grow the hemp instead of import the hemp seed I use for my hemp coffee, and it escalated from there.
Matthew: Great point. So a lot of people don’t know the background here with hemp and how you have to import it and so forth. Can you give us a little background on how you previously used to have to get hemp and how you can cultivate it now in the US?
Veronica: Sure. So basically you can only import viable hemp seed, that’s still the problem now because the DEA is currently in our way when it comes to importing viable hemp seed. So the only kind of hemp that can be really imported into this country is sterilized hemp seed and/or “hemp concentrate” that passes at 1% THC or below. So that’s traditionally the only ways that you can get something passed customs is having non-viable seed and/or a concentrate material of hemp that is 1% or below.
So that was, you know, the seed that is viable from Canada or is non-viable, I’m sorry, the seed that’s non-viable from Canada that I was using for my hemp coffee, it’s been sterilized. It doesn’t taste as good as fresh seed. Tasting fresh seed is just completely a different experience than a sterilized seed. It doesn’t taste the same at all. So that was one big difference why I tried to grow it.
Matthew: How do you sterilize seed? I’m totally unfamiliar with that?
Veronica: There’s a few different ways that they sterilize it, but it makes it so it can’t grow. It does seem to change some of the compounds too and definitely the taste I think is affected significantly as well. Nobody really is used to eating fresh hemp seed in this country for at least 80 years. So when you taste the difference between sterilized hemp seed and viable hemp seed, you can tell a significant difference.
Matthew: And, you know we’ve all heard this kind of factoid here or there about the strength and versatility and health benefits of hemp, but can you go into some detail about the promise of this plant?
Veronica: Oh yeah so hemp is like a super food, I would say like the super food of super foods. The seed itself has amazing super food qualities such as Omega 3, protein, insoluble fiber. This seed itself or the oil from the seed is a wonderful thing to put in your body every single day. It does also have small amounts of cannabinoids such as CBD or THC, but in those countries where the oil comes from, the hemp press seed oil, they consider those contaminants so they don’t list them or label them. In this country we don’t consider cannabinoids contaminants. So the hemp press seed oil is a really great product just for anyone in any country, at any age to take.
The potential with hemp is so diverse. I would say that the industry is going to be much bigger than like for example marijuana which is a thriving industry right now here in Colorado. The ability to use hemp in fiber is really promising for example. Hemp fiber less like to hold on to germs and viruses unlike cotton. The fabric itself is much more durable. We can make biodiesel out of hemp. We can, you know, do some animal feed. Theirs is really an unlimited potential using the whole plant in hemp. It’s super diverse. So the opportunities are just unlimited.
Matthew: Now you’ve grown cannabis and you’ve grown hemp. How do they compare and contrast?
Veronica: Okay well first of all cannabis would incorporate hemp. So you have cannabis, the species cannabis, and then under that you have marijuana and hemp. So marijuana and hemp are kind of like you could say cousins or sister and brother maybe. But cannabis describes both hemp and marijuana. So the difference between growing marijuana and hemp is actually quite significant. You don’t really want to use your marijuana cultivating skills and use them, apply them to hemp growing.
So hemp takes less water. It has an extensive root system. Usually the biggest difference with hemp is you’re growing male and female plants. So you have pollen. And in marijuana you usually only have female plants and there is no pollen. So the pollen is basically a marijuana grower’s worst nightmare. But to the hemp people we love it. So, you know, in Colorado it’s important that marijuana growers and hemp growers become educated and learn how to work together versus a future hemp/marijuana war because of the pollination issues.
Matthew: So for a typical crop that you would be supervising of hemp, what was the last crop? How long did it take from germination to harvest?
Veronica: Well you can cultivate all year round. So when people ask me, you know, that question I say it can vary especially when you’re doing indoor cultivation. When you’re doing outdoor and you’re going solely by the natural environmental factors of the sun and nature itself, then you know, I plant anywhere between April and May, and then I will harvest in October. So that’s usually kind of the life span for hemp here in Colorado outdoors. Although we are able to also cultivate year round and part of those cultivation efforts, I would say the majority of the cultivation efforts for indoors is solely focused on production of more seed.
Matthew: Now I’ve heard hemp referred to as a restorative crop that can help the soil and the environment. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Veronica: Oh yes. So hemp is a great soil reclaimer. It’s been used in the past for toxic disasters to kind of clean up the environment. It’s really important that people do understand that hemp does this especially with soil remediation because for example if a Kentucky farmer acquired some seed from Colorado, they could have soil that is really not ideal for the first few harvests, and the soil itself will start being reconditioned by the hemp itself.
So people may not have the best soil to work with, but the hemp itself will start fixing that problem, and it may also reflect in their harvest. So harvest may be affected by conditions of the soil while the hemp is doing its thing. So when you leave hemp in the ground, like the hemp roots and stuff like this even over the winter, it actually will become more nitrogen rich. There’s not a lot of work to do for, you know, getting your soil ready every year once you’ve already started growing hemp. The hemp is actually quite amazing when it comes to soil restorations or fire damaged areas or if there’s been like a Chernobyl situation with radiation exposure. So hemp is an awesome plant that can do all of that.
Matthew: And you mentioned that you can only have sterilized seed come across the border. Can you give a snapshot of where we are at the federal level and at the state level on hemp because I know there’s people in other states that will be curious, you know, how they can get involved with hemp, what the regulations are and are those regulations loosening.
Veronica: Sure. So hemp has been quite easy to get through different legislative levels, both state, local and federal. Federal there is a farm bill that was passed that basically allowed research and development in the states to develop hemp as well as some other actions that have went recently saying no more Department of Justice money can go into, you know, enforcement or raids. Like stuff like this into legal hemp states.
So regarding the importation of the seed, unfortunately the DEA is still in our way. They don’t really want to let go. Last year when the Kentucky Department of Agriculture tried to bring in seed and they seized it, they decided to sue the DEA. DEA came back to Kentucky and Colorado and said that we would be able to import seed under special circumstances with the DEA approval for those individual applicants. Most people do not want to go through the DEA. They don’t believe they should even have legal authority over seed. So until something changes at a federal level which it will but what will happen is that it will change it on an interstate into an interstate commerce level so we can start shipping it in the mail. The oil can kind of go back and forth as long as it’s a hemp extract. So this probably will be our first step federally to kind of allowing interstate commerce between the different states that are legal. But federally importation of seed is not gonna probably happen for quite a while.
Matthew: Now extracting CBD from hemp is something we do with the cannabis plant with either CO2 or butane hash oil. Can you talk about that process a little bit, why someone would want to extract CBD, what it is and how you extract it from hemp?
Veronica: Sure so hemp is a plethora of different cannabinoids sometimes not often found in marijuana strains. So in marijuana we call them strains and help we call them cultivars. There are cultivars that are dominant in CBD that are hemp cultivars that are meeting 0.3% or below in dry raw material. So the CBD some people seem to be confused that CBD from hemp is different than CBD from marijuana. That’s not the case. The compounds are exactly the same. CBD is CBD.
So now the levels of CBD in hemp tend to vary. Some people want high CBD like 30% and it’s almost impossible to find that realistically in hemp. The levels of hemp and CBD are much lower, and what happens is when you concentrate the material that’s when you start raising that potential or the actual amount of active CBD, CBDA, sometimes CBDV if you’re lucky.
So extraction, I’ve never seen anyone successfully extract hemp with a CO2 machine so far. I do know one person who has been successfully using butane to make some hemp concentrate CBD dominant, and then I use alcohol process. I run big batches and do an alcohol extraction process because that seems to be the cleanest, safest, healthiest way for someone who’s ingesting CBD, especially if they’re sick or they’re immune system’s compromised, to get quality intake versus other contaminants perhaps.
Matthew: That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of the alcohol extraction method.
Veronica: Yeah that’s an adjustable version. I only do a pure concentrate. There’s no, you know, other solvents or emulsifiers or there’s no dilution in my concentrate. You can dilute it if you choose, but when I make concentrated it’s the core raw concentrated material CBD dominant oil.
Matthew: And I know sometimes when you look at some of these concentrates they’ll say, you know, tripled filtered and so forth. What does that mean exactly?
Veronica: Well so all of the products on the market are primarily imported. I would call them imported crap material from other countries that has been reprocessed here in this country or comes in some kind of paste. Dixie Elixir kind of was the first one to do this back in the day. So all of this material coming in is imported and then either reprocessed here in this country. So when they filter it, they filter it because they probably use different solvents and they do filtration of different solvents so it can become consumable and not poison people. Al though unfortunately a lot of confusion has happened with all these CBD companies that are importing with labeling or really discernment of what it really is or what’s in those containers or those syringes because there’s no real quality control and no testing or over sight for any of this right now. So they’re kind of free to label whatever they want. So there’s a big lawsuit actually going on right now regarding some of these CBD oil companies and misleading the public about the truth regarding contaminants and toxicities and other stuff that has been found in them.
Veronica: Yeah so it’s really important, you know, buyer beware. Do your best to educate yourself. You know, CBD oil should not cost $500, it’s not realistic.
Matthew: Now I’m sure you get a lot of emails and phone calls from people that are interested in getting involved in hemp. What are some of the most popular questions you get asked?
Veronica: Well the number one question is where do I get hemp seed. And then the other question is where do I get medical hemp seed. Well there’s no such thing as medical hemp seed at all. This was a definition that the Stanley brothers made up. It’s not recognized anywhere in this country at this point. So no such thing as medical hemp seed. I do get the call all the time for hemp seed. Then people also want to, you know, know how to grow the hemp. They want to know the laws behind the hemp. They want to know how to sell their hemp. That is probably one of the other biggest questions. If I grow the hemp, can you help me sell it. So, you know, people want to get involved, but since it’s such a new industry there’s a lot of other considerations.
Matthew: Sure. Now do you have one or two recipes that with hemp seed that you could recommend to people that are just trying to get started consuming it as a health food or super food?
Veronica: Oh yeah hemp seed is like the best, easiest thing to integrate into any food you have and really the best way to trick your kids to eating healthy. So we use hemp seed at my household for every recipe from eggs, to our salads, to our pulled pork, to our enchiladas and tacos. So I literally add hemp seed in either the hemp hearts or the crushed whole hemp seed and use it in almost all my recipes because it brings out the omega 3s. It gives us fiber, protein. You can’t even tell it’s in there half the time. My kids never know. So it’s a great way to kind of trick them. They’re eating of healthy stuff. So you can implement hemp really into almost any recipe you currently, you know, is your favorite or you utilize often at your home.
Matthew: Now switching gears to your coffee. What is hemp coffee?
Veronica: Hemp coffee is a special blend of organic free trade coffee beans and now Colorado hemp seed together. So it’s a special blend. I also have a mushroom blend and hemp seed which is kind of cool because mushroom has different health effects. But the benefits from the coffee primarily is some Omega 3s. It also helps kind of to help people with their acidity when people have a hard time drinking coffee or it upsets their stomach. The hemp seed kind of counteracts that so they don’t usually get like upset stomachs or have that reaction, and it gives a little bit of a nice flavor. So those are the benefits of the hemp coffee.
Matthew: Now you said mushroom coffee. I know, what kind of mushroom do you have in some of the coffees?
Veronica: It’s ganoderma mushroom so it’s real good for, you know, I would say outside cancer, some other inflammation issues. You know in America we can’t cure for things like this, but that’s commonly what this mushroom is used for is anti-cancer properties and anti-inflammation, stress.
Matthew: Do you taste the mushroom or does the coffee pretty much over power the mushroom and it’s just an additive?
Veronica: Yeah it pretty much overpowers, sometimes there’s like a slight kind of taste, almost chocolate. Most women tell me that for some reason. The men, you know, they just like the coffee, you know for the coffee drinkers or people who aren’t coffee drinkers. I also supply a hemp leaf tea. The hemp leaf tea is more dominant, is dominant in CBD. So that’s a different kind of product for people who aren’t coffee drinkers, want to drink tea and also get some CBD.
Matthew: Right. And so we’ve talked a lot about CBD, but the people who use it generally are looking for relief from a lot of should we say autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, those type of things. Is there some others that I’m missing?
Verionica: Sleep, a lot of people yeah they experience good rest off CBD. Like on the hemp leaf tea, a lot of older people will tell me that they sleep better when they drink the tea. So that’s been great, great news. You know, the CBD is really popular right now, but again hemp has a lot of other cannabinoids that people aren’t familiar with such as CBDV or THCV. These will be big, big down the road. There’s just not a lot of information on them right now.
Matthew: Right, I’ve kind of joked that CBD is the Justin Bieber of the cannabinoids right now. It’s so popular, stealing all the headlines.
Veronica: Oh yeah exactly, yep that’s a good way to put it.
Matthew: So any other hemp related products you have coming out down the road?
Veronica: You know I am pretty much focused on my hemp tea, the hemp coffee and the oils and then whatever special remedies I kind of make for people or special blends. I do a lot of wholesaling, people do private labeling. You know, hemp stores are becoming kind of popular either online or physical storefronts. So people are looking for inventory like this to carry. My biggest focus is providing seed, cultivating more seed and really, hopefully working on seed certification to become, you know, one of the first few people to actually have certified seeds in this country.
Matthew: Oh great. And how can people learn more about you Veronica and follow your work and get your coffee?
Veronica: Sure, they can go to either www.coloradohempcoffee.com and check out kind of that product list, or they can go to www.growhempcolorado.com. That site is currently being revamped and it will be up at the new version in about a week. So that www.growhempcolorado.com is a free open source website that has tons of information on hemp and videos and audio and a bunch of new relevant information if you really want to stay updated.
Matthew: Great, well Veronica thanks so much for being on CannaInsider today. We really appreciate it.
Veronica: Thanks for having me.
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