Letters + Opinion » The Week in Weed

Hmbldt's Invention



In case you missed it, Time Magazine recently included a vape pen in its "25 Best Inventions of 2016." If this is big news through the cannabis world, it's bigger news here, as the company bears our name — albeit a vowel-averse version — and comes filled with an oil concentrated from marijuana grown on more than 250 "family farms" in Humboldt County.

Now, if you, dear reader, are puffing your Puffco Pro and wondering how in the hell Time dubbed a vape pen — for years a staple in cannabis circles — a 2016 invention, you need to understand the Hmbldt vaporizing pen is something different.

Derek McCarthy, chief marketing officer for Hmbldt, which officially launched a few months ago, said the product's premise is simple. The company's brain trust realized the biggest hurdle separating medical cannabis and average patients is consistency, or how to make sure a patient doesn't go from getting functional pain relief with one puff to being effectively comatose with the next. "The desire for a consistent, repeatable experience — that's where the device came from," McCarthy explained. To that end, McCarthy said Hmbldt honed in on crafting a controlled ingestion mechanism through which it could deliver a reliably consistent product.

First there's the hardware — the pen itself. McCarthy said the pen uses a specially designed microprocessor to control airflow, heating and time to dispense a 2.25 milogram dose, no matter how hard or softly you puff the thing, meaning Michael Phelps or your grandma can inhale and walk away with the same dose. But the "pen is really just a vehicle," as McCarthy puts it, adding that what truly sets Hmbldt apart are its extracts.

Currently, Hmbldt offers four formulas — "sleep," "relief," "bliss" and "calm" — designed for a unique patient experience that's been consumer tested for consistency. McCarthy said Hmbldt goes so far as to guarantee its products, meaning if you buy a sleep pen and it doesn't help you sleep, you'll get your $100 back.

The specific formulas are largely the work of Samantha Miller, who founded Pure Analytics, one of California's first and best known cannabis testing laboratories. McCarthy said Hmbldt uses Humboldt-grown marijuana to create mostly CO2 extracts which Miller tinkers with until she gets the perfect balance of THC, select cannabinoids and terpenes to fit the recipe. And, it should be noted, Hmbldt's formulas are designed to deliver targeted relief "without all the headiness that comes with getting stoned," as www.merryjane.com put it. (And, for those for whom "headiness" quickly morphs into paranoia, the company is currently testing "control," a formula designed to counteract the effects of THC for those who, say, have just eaten too many gummy bears.)

While the company is largely based in Los Angeles, McCarthy said its early founders and some members of the team are from Humboldt County, as is the source product. "It's a big part of who we are," he said, adding that the company is in the process of putting together a community advisory board that, among other things, will help Hmbldt invest in local projects and organizations.

As to how Time Magazine's mention has changed the company's trajectory, McCarthy said he was most excited by the headline the product received: "Cannabis That Could Replace Pills."

"It's amazing to see a traditional media outlet lead with the health and wellness benefit in the headline," McCarthy said. "It means we're helping to drive forward cannabis not as a drug or a narcotic but a legitimate tool for helping people's quality of life."

That's all well and good, but don't expect Sen. Jeff Sessions to try it anytime soon. The president-elect's nominee for attorney general, Sessions is a longtime outspoken critic of marijuana, from the early 1980s when he infamously quipped that he thought the Klu Klux Klan "was OK until I found out they smoked pot," to this April, when he said, "Good people don't smoke marijuana." Sessions has also dubbed the Obama administration's relaxed stance on marijuana enforcement in states with recreational or medical laws a "tragic mistake," causing many to fear a federal drug war escalation is on the horizon.

Add a comment