When it comes to cannabis, there are thousands of cultivars each with their own unique blend of aroma, flavor, and effects but no matter what part of the country you’re from, the actual buds behind all of those strain names can be broken down into three easy categories – high grade, mids, and just pure trash weed.
As longtime growers from coast to coast, here at Beard Bros. Pharms we have spent countless hours popping seeds and running genetics in a recurring selection process that has led to the discovery and perfecting of some of our most iconic strains.
In much the same way, we have spent years sifting through the trash and mids of the hemp CBD industry hoping to find a high-grade manufacturer that we could confidently refer to friends and family across the map, regardless of their state’s cannabis laws.
We’re happy to report – We’ve found a winner.
When we caught up to Adam Vurek of Circle Labs out of Marin County, our first and lasting impression was, “Oh, right on, this dude’s one of us…” That fact alone instantly sets him and his company apart in the saturated hemp CBD marketplace, but that’s just the beginning of the story.
YOU AIN’T NEVER HAD A FRIEND LIKE ME
Moving from the rolling vineyards of Napa to the home of Tupac Shakur in Marin, Adam discovered a passion for two pastimes that he still thoroughly enjoys today: cannabis and skateboarding.
“When I started experimenting with cannabis, I found a real friend in it,” says Adam looking back on those highly formative years of his life. Following that passion, Adam and his friends experimented with various clandestine outdoor guerilla grows of their own.
“We had a few plants up on the mountain,” Adam recalls. “We’d backpack water up there for them and we had varying degrees of a lack of success.” Working at the time for a “funky little” landscaping company, Adam and his crew had a couple of clients task them with tending to their cannabis plants for them, further engraining his desire to know more. A voracious learner, and consummate perfectionist, Adam took the next logical step and soon found himself working in a small hydroponics store right around the end of 2000.
The owner of the shop, a man named Steve Stragnola, was one of those dudes that was ahead of his time. He is the founder of Diamond Lights, one of the leading manufacturers in cannabis cultivation lighting back in those days, and a lot of that hardware was being assembled right in the hydro store where Adam worked.
In fact, that was Adam’s initial duty – riveting reflectors and wiring ballasts day in and day out. He immediately recognized the trove of useful information surrounding him in the store and would quickly devour every issue of Maximum Yield that came across the counter as he soaked up as much knowledge as possible from every old school farmer who walked through the door.
“A lot of these people growing couldn’t talk to their friends about it, or to anyone about it, but they could talk to us, so I just picked everybody’s brain.”
Adam spent nearly seven years at the shop, working his way up into a management position while on the clock, and putting his newfound knowledge to work in his free time. What began with a single 1000w light, no fan, and a janky hydro setup in a spare closet soon evolved into a full room, multiple lights, and requests from store customers to help consult on their buildouts.
“It was all about getting in as many gardens as possible… seeing as many ways to do it as possible,” says Adam.
Looking to boost his own personal growth, Adam briefly took a gig with Advanced Nutrients, an experience he now says was rife with comedy and led to a quick departure.
Adam caught wind of a hydro store in Sonoma County being put up for sale and he jumped on the opportunity with a friend, becoming a 50/50 partner in “The Shop” as it was named. It was during this time that Adam learned the hard lesson of cannabis consulting as customer after customer would milk him for knowledge only to buy from a competitor to save a few bucks.
Adam knew what he had to do.
BACK TO THE ROOTS
For years, Adam had been growing his own weed underneath anywhere from two to eight lights indoors. Growing cannabis was still a highly risky proposition in those days and finding a footprint of land large enough to make the effort profitable while not drawing the wrong attention was a challenge.
That is why indoor hydro weed became so popular throughout the 1990s and 2000s was that growers had no choice but to hide their operations under a roof instead of under the sun.
Adam took his hard-earned knowledge back to the roots and back to the soil, spending a full summer camping and working on an outdoor cannabis farm in NorCal all week and driving down the hill to spend time with his son and daughter each weekend.
For someone who spent countless hours assembling high grade electric lights for growing pot, that summer was an awakening for Adam about the power of the sun, the moon, and the stars and the futility of trying to mimic it all with manmade hardware.
More summers, more gardens, more experience followed before Adam moved back to Lagunitas in Marin County where his love for cannabis had originally sprouted.
Taking a job at a local Prop215-era medical marijuana collective called Synergy Wellness, Adam’s new boss was a tough-as-leather sixty-something year old cowboy named Leonard Leinow whose main focus was on a lesser-known compound called CBD. He had avidly collected dozens of high-CBD cultivars and the shop had become known for its suddenly sought-after selection of cannabinoid-specific formulations.
At their peak during Adam’s tenure at the collective, Leinow had wrangled over a dozen very high quality Type 2 (balanced ratio of CBD to THC) and Type 3 (lower THC, higher CBD ratio) cuts into his stable of genetics including fabled cultivars like AC/DC, Ringo’s Gift, Harlequin, Remedy and Therapy, Cashy’s Honey, Cannatonic… like a Greatest Hits album of old school CBD strains all under one roof.
Adam was put in charge of both cultivation and the manufacturing of the shop’s popular olive oil infusions and alcohol-based tinctures – more invaluable experience for this already well-rounded and deep-rooted member of the cannabis culture.
“Leonard is a really cool dude, I have the utmost respect for him,” says Adam. “It was an awesome experience. It was a new thing, working with these CBD genetics that acted differently, desired different climates, desired different nutrients… it was an exciting thing to be a part of and it was amazing talking to the people that we were providing the medicine to. It was fuckin’ mind blowing. This was a whole new part of the plant that I was fired up about.”
Adam’s time at Synergy Wellness also introduced him to HPLC testing and the reams of data that can be collected from those results. This weed nerd soon found himself swimming in new knowledge gained from A/B testing each strain using different variables in the growth stages, or different infusion methods during the manufacturing phase, etc.
Appreciative then and now of his time and experience at Synergy Wellness, Adam could feel that California’s cannabis market was on the verge of a big change and he was ready to make a move.
HEMP WILL BE THE FUTURE OF MANKIND, OR THERE WON’T BE A FUTURE
– Jack Herer
Just as Adam was feeling that tug, he linked up with a CBD-curious businessman named Ron who, despite his intense commitment to his own personal health, had been afflicted with an auto-immune disease that left him at the mercy of western medicine and doctors that pumped him full of a dangerous and ineffective cocktail of prescription pharmaceutical drugs.
By then, CBD had hit the mainstream lexicon and Ron wanted to know fact from fiction, so he hit up Adam who he was told had seen every side of the cannabis plant and industry up to that point and would shoot straight with him.
After discussing just how wack a majority of the CBD market was at the time, Adam and Ron decided to partner up and make a run of their own at entering the new Prop64 recreational cannabis market in Cali, planning to launch a line of both CBD and THC-dominant tinctures to begin with. Of course, their story reflects so many other legacy operators who had hopes of continuing to serve the medical cannabis community that they had come up in and they found nothing but roadblocks and red tape when dealing with the state.
As we can absolutely relate to here at Beard Bros. Pharms, Adam was offered opportunities to wiggle into licensed operations but, he says, it never felt right. There are a lot of people working in legal weed right now who wish they had listed to that feeling when they had it a year or two ago.
As hemp-derived CBD rose in mainstream popularity, Adam felt conflicted knowing exactly how beneficial the healing cannabinoid can be for so many people but also knowing that, like all things cannabis related, how it is harvested, processed, and delivered to the consumer’s endocannabinoid system is of the utmost importance.
So, he did what he always has done – he began studying hemp. His search led him to the fertile fields of Oregon, where forward-thinking hemp farmers had been busy since the first time the Feds loosened the noose on the hemp plant back in 2014.
Adam landed on the story of Seth and Eric Crawford, brothers and co-founders of Oregon CBD out of Corvallis, Oregon. Adam, who had spent a significant amount of time around CBD genetics, was impressed with how some farms’ hemp appeared to stack up in all aspects to California cannabis. Like many old school heads, Adam had at one point disparaged all “hemp” as little more than ditch weed but what he was seeing from the Crawfords had him thinking twice.
BRINGING IT FULL CIRCLE
With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and the release of the “hemp” plant from the decades-long grip of federal prohibition, Adam and Ron saw an opportunity in producing the highest quality hemp-derived CBD products to the same ethical standards of compassion and effectiveness that Adam had been taught by his old friend, cannabis.
They created Circle Labs with a launch in January of 2019 as a perfect hybrid of Adam and Ron’s philosophies on both mental and physical health and wellness, honestly offering their line of CBD products not as a magical “cure-all” but as a useful supplement to a clean diet, adequate exercise, a regular sleep pattern, and natural stress management.
Seeking small scale, craft quality hemp farms that use the proven genetics propagated by the team at Oregon CBD, Circle Labs insists on using a single cultivar from one farm for their product line after each harvest. This single-source methodology not only allows them to support ethical, regenerative hemp farmers whose ethos aligns with their own, but it allows them almost unprecedented quality control over their main active ingredient, the hemp flowers, something still drastically lacking in the CBD industry as a whole. Now, when their product works (Spoiler Alert: IT WORKS), consumers can confidently reorder, knowing that they will realize the same uniform benefits from bottle to bottle.
All of their 2019 products were made from ultra-high-quality Lifter grown by AlpenGro (founded by another true head). The intention was to return to that farm for the fall harvest but a freak hailstorm in August decimated the AlpenGro crop. Adam was heartbroken for the friends he had made at that farm and was forced to look elsewhere for a crop that could meet his high standards.
Today, Circle labs is working with East Fork Cultivars whose name you may remember after they basically gave Phylos a giant middle finger by backing out of a massive joint research project once that whole controversy came to light. They too grow Lifter, and so it remains the foundation for Circle Labs’ formulations.
East Fork is USDA certified organic and just got their SUN + EARTH certification which, if you are not familiar, is a progressive and strict program to adhere to and further lends to the credibility of Circle Labs for sourcing such an eco-friendly ingredient.
Now for the tech.
Adam can talk for ages about cannabinoid carriers and terpene retention, but one of his secrets to success is really no secret at all, it’s just not as cost-effective so it may as well be Martian to most CBD companies.
Adam and Ron focus on tincture-based products because they know, from experience, that not every patient can, or wants to, smoke or vaporize hemp or cannabis to reap its medicinal benefits. Not only that but inhaling or eating cannabinoids are the two most inefficient ways for our body to absorb those cannabinoids. Tinctures, however, when absorbed sublingually, avoid the metabolism that occurs in the liver that so drastically reduces the efficacy of the compound.
Adam refers to his process as a “Low Temperature Whole Flower Infusion” in which the connoisseur grade olive oil being used is never heated as it is in most tinctures on the market today. Adam’s research revealed some disturbing qualities of olive oil when it gets heated over 90 degrees. He concedes that the impact that can have on the oil may be minute, but ‘why sour it at all?’ is his philosophy and that’s why we like him.
This process of decarbing the flower before infusing it into the oil is smart. It preserves and conveys a much wider and truer cannabinoid profile than traditional infusion methods and has opened the door to a whole new realm of wellness by unlocking formulation options with the acidic form of CBD known aptly as CBDa.
You see, Circle Labs has a refreshing take on the term “full spectrum” that is so loosely and inaccurately tossed around the mainstream CBD market. They prefer the term “True Spectrum”.
To Adam, the goal is always as wide and varied a profile of cannabinoids and terpenoids as possible, but only if the ratios of all the above are as true as possible to what you’d find in the raw flower itself. He has run side by side lab tests to compare the Lifter flower to the infused oil that he creates from that flower and has been pleased to see them sync up so closely thanks in large part to his cold infusion process.
“I love seeing things that have been looked over and finding the value in those things. I believe that Nature is the best chemist. I have seen the value of cannabis in its natural state, so I trust the plant more than anything, but then I back that up with research.”
To the casual reader, the word “terpene” may sound like stoner gibberish. To those a bit more tuned in, they may recognize “terps” as the aroma and flavor of a certain strain. Studies have proven, though, that terpenes absolutely play an expanded role in the combined Entourage Effect on our wellness that we seek and benefit from the most.
This is why we really appreciated the choice that Circle Labs offers between “acidic” products and their standard CBD line. Anytime hemp or cannabis goes through a decarboxylation process, it causes it to lose almost all of the terps (except beta-caryophyllene) but it does retain the cannabinoid profile and ratios of the original flower.
The “acidic” CBDa preparation does not go through any pre-conditioning and goes raw into the “Low Temperature Whole Flower Infusion” process, retaining all acidic cannabinoids and the original terpenes for the flower.
Adam boils it down perfectly with the joke that we all used to think “Well, only THC matters” then CBD came along and we say “Ok, only THC and CBD matter” then we discover terpenes and we’re like “Alright… Only THC, CBD, and terpenes matter…” You’d think we’d learn. From human migration to space exploration, every horizon that mankind has ever discovered has revealed a new, larger horizon.
“Just because something doesn’t show up on the HPLC doesn’t mean it isn’t important,” Adam says, “I’m trying to carry over things we can’t even see yet!”
That is such an important point.
Labs can only “see” what they have previously isolated and prepared a standard for. This is precisely why a true full spectrum product like you find at Circle Labs is so much more ideal than, say, 99.9% CBD isolate harvested from who-knows-where.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
We picked up a variety pack of Circle Labs products to try them out for ourselves here at Beard Bros. Pharms including their regular and extra strength tinctures, their topical balm, and a product that they call a Pain Stick that looks like deodorant but spreads on smooth and melts minor aches away like butter.
Their flagship product, the tinctures, are so simple they’re brilliant. Two ingredients… you ready?
Lifter whole flowers and olive oil.
That’s it, fam! An all-natural double whammy of phytonutrients available in both CBD and CBDa varieties.
I have been skipping my essential nightcap cannabis sesh for the past five evenings, replacing it instead with an easily portioned dose of the neutral CBD tincture (regular strength) that I hold under my tongue as I read myself to sleep. Not only am I sleeping just as soundly without inhaling three bowls of smoke, but I am truly waking up more refreshed even though the amount of time asleep has remained the same as always. I often get mild panic attacks when I ingest THC before bed. Nothing serious. I usually laugh at myself in the midst of them, but there is not even a hint of that feeling when taking in this tincture from Circle Labs. I can see that being very beneficial to those with lower tolerance levels.
A recent expansion to their product line introduced the topicals mentioned above. If you have made it this far into this read, you obviously realize we go deep when we write! That has led to some pretty serious carpal tunnel for this writer. Like the tinctures, the topicals from Circle Labs have minimal ingredients and spotless lab test results but the star of the show is the 3x infused CBD oil that goes into each unit. This provides localized treatment for the acute pain in my wrist, forearm, and elbow.
Instead of just masking the pain, as prescription drugs would do, the active ingredient in Circle Labs products works to reduce the inflammation at the root of the pain. It seems to have a cumulative effect between the topical balm and the dropper-full of tincture that I have been taking each night and each morning as I am noticing marked improvement each day. My wife even says that my arm does not feel as tight this week as it has recently.
“I have always consumed cannabis, among many other reasons, to help me sleep,” says Jeff Levers, co-Founder of Beard Bros. Pharms. “It has never failed but years in the garden combined with the stress of trying to make it in this industry has given me a chronic pain in my back that flares up terribly at times. There have been times in recent weeks when I toss and turn throughout the night, trying to alleviate that dull ache. For the past week, though, that restlessness has been shut off at night. I still experience some discomfort during the day, but it is far more manageable after a full night’s sleep.”
Bill Levers, the other Beard Bro, agrees, saying, “There is a subtle ‘grassy’ flavor to the tincture but it is not at all unpleasant. Their instructions advise that you hold the dose under your tongue for 30-90 seconds, but I like to just leave it there as long as possible before swallowing it. Those capillaries in your mouth are an expressway for cannabinoids to your receptors so I saturate those suckers!”
Regarding the rest of the product line, Bill says, “Their topical products have distinct aromas, but they are not weedy whatsoever. You can confidently slap on some of the balm or the pain stick anywhere you go without turning heads. They also adsorb quickly and efficiently into your skin so there is no greasy residue as I’ve seen with so many other canna-based salves and balms.”
This is why legit CBD products like the ones from Circle Labs are so popular. Not only can seasoned heads like our crew here at Beard Bros. Pharms use it to supplement an ungodly amount of cannabis consumption, but someone who has little or no interest or experience with marijuana can still find a benefit from it as well without the need for a dispensary visit or the fear of saturating one’s body with THC.
Knowing what we know about the company itself, and now having tried their products, referring Circle Labs to family and friends who are seeking out hemp-derived CBD is an easy decision. In fact, we have already been doing so!
PAYING IT FORWARD
In June of 2019, Circle Labs began its most heartfelt collaboration to date by becoming an official sponsor of the American Cannabis Nurses Association. This is a group of nurses nationwide who have decided that mainstream medicine is behind the curve on cannabis and they have taken it upon themselves to educate themselves and pass that knowledge along to any patient who they feel may benefit from it.
The vibe between Circle Labs and the ACNA is so strong that the organization’s sitting president, a lady by the name of Eloise Theisen, now has a role on the Circle Labs advisory board. Eloise, Ron, and Adam are working together to create an affiliate program for ACNA member nurses that would give them access to heavily reduced margins on Circle Labs products that they could either pass along as savings to patients in financial need or use to supplement their own income and continuing education on the healing power of cannabis and hemp.
Too many people who may be able to find real benefits from legit CBD products are instead walking blindly into the market with no advice, no education, and no clue on how to separate the snake oil from the CBD.
Nurses are on the front lines of health care in America and they deal with the full spectrum of society. Collaborative efforts like this one between Circle Labs and the ACNA will help to clear the smoke surrounding CBD.
Research-driven, quality-controlled manufacturing.
High-grade products that work.
Compassion based community outreach.
Jeez… is this a hemp CBD company or an old school cannabis company?
That’s the beautiful part, Circle Labs is both.
Learn more about this ‘Beard Bros. Approved’ brand and immerse yourself in the collection of useful information they have amassed on their website at www.CircleLabs.co