After working with Bluebird Botanicals this past year, it’s clear as to why the company has quickly emerged as a world-leading provider of hemp extracts and CBD products. The mission-driven, health-inspired company culture, combined with the highest quality cannabinoid-rich products, has created a loyal, customer community across the globe.
Bluebird Botanicals team, 2016
CEO and founder, Brandon Beatty, launched Bluebird Botanicals in 2012 to help others achieve optimal wellness through various holistic products and healthy superfoods. The following year, the company introduced its flagship hemp-CBD oils – which seemed like a natural fit – and within six months experienced a 2,000% sales growth.
This motivated Beatty and the Bluebird team to shift all focus on developing CBD wellness products, making it one of the first privately owned CBD companies to sell nationwide. Since then, Bluebird Botanicals continues to set industry standards – from trade language, to quality testing and laboratory analysis – through its commitment to fair business practices, philanthropy, sustainability and the well-being of others.
Bluebird Botanicals Kentucky hemp greenhouse clones, 2016
We are particularly excited to announce that Bluebird is now sourcing Kentucky hemp, and is working with farmers in the Kentucky Hemp Pilot Program to advance the U.S. industry through research and development. This is one of many progressive steps the company is taking to remain a leader, and strong advocate, for hemp companies nation-wide.
Last week, we had the opportunity to catch up with Beatty and the Bluebird Team to learn more about the company’s progress and goals moving forward:
As the market becomes more flooded with CBD companies hoping to branch into the U.S. hemp industry, how does Bluebird stand apart from its competitors?
There are multiple aspects about Bluebird that set us apart from the crowd. First off, the genuine inspiration and love for cannabis. We try to only hire people that really care about Bluebird and its mission, and that raw passion seeps into everything we do. Not surprisingly, there are many companies in it just for the money and they don't really care about what they are doing, and customers can feel that.
We were one of the very first privately owned companies to offer CBD products nationwide, since October of 2013. As we see now, the industry has become relatively huge and sophisticated in such a short amount of time. We truly helped pave the way, for example by developing much of the lingo used in the industry, and the types of products, standard serving sizes and concentrations typically offered by other companies. We have the most stringent quality control system in the industry and intend to continue to set standards. We conform to CGMPs (Current Good Manufacturing Practices), and use a 3rd-party for "Dietary Supplement Audits" to ensure all our procedures are compliant with the FDA. We also use 3rd-party laboratories to analyze all our ingredients and products, and have a batch system that includes testing every final product for cannabinoid potency and impurities such as heavy metals, solvents, pesticides, bacteria, and mycotoxins. And even more so, the results of all those tests are available on our website and are always kept updated for our customers to see. We're not aware of one other hemp extract company, or any marijuana company either, with a quality control system quite like ours.
We have three different assistance programs we offer to people in need- a disability program, a low-income program, and a veterans program. We donate to over 10 (non-hemp related) non-profits and are active members of multiple hemp associations. We are very politically involved and have contributed over $50,000 to supporting positive cannabis legislation. We were original members of a U.S. hemp coalition formed in early 2016, which is mostly focused on passing hemp legislation. Currently, Bluebird is drafting a letter on behalf of the Hemp Industry to be distributed to Congress and President-Elect Donald Trump and his Agricultural Advisory Committee, in parallel with a letter of industry support signed by Senators and Representatives on both sides of the aisle. Just last month The Cannabist (a division of the Denver Post) and six unaffiliated judges awarded Bluebird as the number one hemp-CBD company, determining that we most epitomize the spirit of the industry, are moving the cannabis industry into a positive future with innovative solutions, are making the most impact in our industry, are doing the most unique work, and have the best understanding of the cannabinoid CBD.
Bluebird Botanicals is located in Colorado, so why source Kentucky hemp?
There are a few reasons, but the main one is that Kentucky's whole hemp program is fully compliant with section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014, better known as the 2014 Farm Bill. Kentucky was quick to act, and had over 4,000 registered acres this year. The conditions here are amazing for growing hemp (and tobacco), and that was well known hundreds of years ago when Kentucky was king of the US hemp industry. The growing season is much longer than in CO, the soil is richer, and the yields are better.
What kinds of obstacles or difficulties have you faced (if any) from sourcing your hemp extracts from a different state? If so, what could be done to alleviate these issues?
We used to source from Europe, so this is actually easier than before! It would be nice to touch the plants every day and be able to admire them, and there's a marginal shipping cost to ship across the country, but those aren't really difficulties per se. We're genuinely very pleased with the relationship we have with our partnered farmers in Kentucky.
Do you have any new developments you’re currently working on? What can customers anticipate in 2017?
Yeah, we have a lot in store for 2017. We'll be releasing a hemp food line that includes hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, and hemp protein powder. We'll also be releasing an equestrian blend, isolated terpenes like myrcene and limonene, isolated CBG and other cannabinoids besides CBD, and a flavored vaporizer line. We have a vape blend now but it's unflavored. We plan to launch all these products in the next six months, some much sooner.
Can you comment on the recent rule shared by the DEA and how, if at all, it has effected your company? Or, do you foresee it causing any issues for Bluebird in the future?
Sure. It hasn't affected the legality of our products, and we are happily continuing business as usual. The DEA has always considered cannabinoids in marijuana Schedule I, but there are exemptions to the Controlled Substances Act that still stand today, including hemp grown pursuant to section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill. Specifically, federal law allows for the state-monitored cultivation of industrial hemp, defined as "the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis." Clearly this means the flowers - and cannabinoids, terpenes and other molecules found in the flowers - are federally legal when grown pursuant to this bill. Additionally, naturally occurring cannabinoids in certain forms of imported hemp are exempt, and in 2004 the DEA was prohibited by the federal judicial system from attempting to regulate the cannabinoid-containing products being imported by American companies. Also worth noting, the DEA can't add things to the CSA on a whim, but is required by law to follow a protocol which has never been carried out for CBD or any other cannabinoid besides THC. That said, there will be lingering questions and nervousness that will affect the industry if not addressed head on, for example when dealing with banks, credit card processing companies, when seeking investors, etc. Just a few days ago the Hoban Law Group filed a lawsuit against the DEA in regards to this issue, so in time we'll get a clear and final ruling on this. I'm confident and hopeful that HLG will win the case because the law is clear. In the event that HLG wins, that will surely take pressure off the industry.
What do you see in store for the future of the cannabis-hemp industry as a whole, and how does Bluebird fit into this vision?
I see a very bright future! I think in 2017 we'll have a real shot to pass legislation that would expand upon the 2014 Farm Bill. Once current regulatory hurdles are of the past, I think the hemp industry is bound to become one of the largest industries in the world, and that many of the world's biggest existing industries will adopt this incredibly versatile plant into their business operations. In time I think the whole cannabis industry, hemp and marijuana combined, may become literally the largest industry in the world, surpassing oil and gas, food, pharmaceuticals, etc. In Colorado alone, in less than a year, marijuana sales exceeded one billion dollars. When the federal government and most other countries legalize it, we can expect that number to rise into the hundreds if not thousands of billions. And that's just the marijuana side of things, which has much fewer applications than its cousin hemp. As you hempsters know, growing hemp can help with climate change, pollution, radiation and soil contamination, so it will be a very beneficial industry to the whole world. I hope to see Bluebird remain at the forefront of this amazing movement.
For more information about Bluebird Botanicals, visit www.bluebird-botanicals.com