Secret Nature Brings Craft Cannabis Sensibility to CBD Flower
CBD is finding its way into an incredibly diverse array of products these days, from tinctures and capsules to skin care products and even empanadas. Most of the CBD isolate that goes into these products, though, comes from a source that’s the opposite of diverse—industrial hemp.
But with the 2018 Farm Bill opening the door for increased cultivation of hemp—defined as Cannabis sativa with a THC content of less than 0.3%–some cannabis companies are taking the opportunity to rethink what hemp can be. For California-based Secret Nature, hemp’s new lease on life is a chance to reinvent a plant that most consumers couldn’t have less interest in.
That lack of interest isn’t entirely unreasonable. To put it mildly, industrial hemp has not been a source of excitement in previous decades. While cannabis cultivators have spent years selecting for THC-rich plants with a variety of flavors and profiles, the makeup of industrial hemp has stayed largely static.
Secret Nature is aiming to change that by taking lessons in strain development that the cannabis community has been honing for years and finally applying them to hemp.
What Is Artisan CBD?
The goal of Secret Nature is to take the lessons of craft cannabis and apply them to industrial hemp. The company’s breeding team works to pair high-CBD cannabis strains with hemp strains in interesting ways, aiming to develop new phenotypes that remain consistently under the 0.3% THC limit while bringing other factors to the table—namely interesting flavors and high CBD content.
Founder Tyler Thorton, who got his start in California’s craft cannabis market, recalls that when he told his colleagues about his new business—making hemp hip—he didn’t get a whole lot of encouragement.
“In the beginning, even I kind of thought smoking hemp was a joke,” Thorton says. “But once I got a chance to taste some of the plants that had come out of this breeding process, which were expressing some unique terpene profiles and aromas and looked like any other top shelf flower, I was really intrigued.”
Building a Breeding Ground
Since the company started in 2017, The Secret Nature team has been hard at work developing new strains of CBD-rich hemp flower featuring terpene profiles that rival the plant’s THC-rich relatives.
“I’ve been breeding craft cannabis strains with hemp strains in Colorado since 2014, and at the start, there was a lot of guesswork involved,” says Secret Nature’s lead cultivator Eric Ramuzin. “In the years since, we’ve done a lot of experimentation with everything from breeding combinations to growing media and nutrients. That’s helped us regularly produce strains under the 0.3% THC limit that have unique and complex cannabinoid and terpene profiles.”
Among the most popular of the company’s new hemp strains is Cherry Cough, a hemp strain with a sweet and sticky flavor profile reminiscent of cherry syrup. It’s not just the taste that’s made Cherry Cough a hit with consumers, though—the flavorful flower also tests as high as 22% CBD content.
“The market for this sort of CBD-rich flower is exploding beyond our expectations,” says Thorton. “For consumers who are looking for some of the benefits of cannabis without the psychoactivity commonly associated with the plant, we’re able to offer flower that looks and tastes just like the sort of product you’d see on dispensary shelves—just without the THC.”
Breeding cannabis with an eye toward minimizing THC is also helping the Secret Nature team learn more about the plant. The breeding team reports that blending the genetics of industrial hemp with more traditional high-CBD cannabis strains has resulted in some unexpected results in terms of terpene profiles.
For instance, while Cherry Cough is just the thing for sweet-toothed CBD consumers, those with different tastes in mind can turn to Secret Nature’s Diesel Puff strain, which hosts more earthy and gassy notes.
Flower to the People
While the company is prioritizing scent, flavor, and CBD content—as well as a lack of THC—in their early strains, they’re also listening to what customers have to say. Going forward, Secret Nature’s new strains will be developed with feedback from customers all over the country in mind.
Beyond the new flavors and cannabinoid profiles that Secret Nature is able to breed into their plants, they feel that hemp flower is a great opportunity to introduce consumers to cannabis wherever they are. Orders of flower, vape cartridges, concentrates, and even hemp flower pre-rolls are shipped in discreet packaging, and customers can try new products for as little as one dollar thanks to the company’s frequent promotions.
“We’re one of the first companies that’s able to legally ship a true cannabis product nationally and internationally, the only difference being it’s beneath the 0.3%THC threshold that qualifies it as hemp,” says Thorton. “We’re excited to not only offer quality, boutique hemp cannabis flower to parts of the country where THC-rich flower is not yet legal, but also to introduce them to the other minor cannabinoids in the mix, like CBG and CBN.”