For our first installment in our Meet The Makers series, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Marcus Moates, the co-founder, and co-owner of Nature’s Lab Extracts.
We have been friends with Marcus and colleagues with Nature’s Lab since 2014. We both started out operating in the San Fernando Valley outside Los Angeles. Back in the day, we worked with Nature’s Lab because they were honest, trustworthy, and produced absolute fire concentrates, which is evident by their continued rise in the industry.
So set up your favorite rig, have your flavors lined up, and get ready to learn more about one of the real OGs in the hash game!
What is your company history?
I started Nature’s Lab Extracts right after college, in a garage in North Hollywood in approximately late 2007/early 2008. Before that while in high school & college, I was processing in the lab making RSO, ethanol hash, and bubble hash. Kristen, my now fiance, was running our kitchen operation as Kittys Munchies, which still operates today white-labeling edibles for many traditional and compliant brands. The lab moved to the west part of the San Fernando Valley and stayed steady on BHO for the next decade. I hired Ross & Obi, two friends because you couldn’t really put an ad out back then for job openings.
In 2013 we finally started competing in cups, which was a bit scary since I’m from Arkansas and laws were very harsh for cannabis. If you got pulled over by the wrong cop and had even 3 seeds, it was straight to prison. I was reluctant at first to do any events, talk to anyone, or put my name & face out there.
Fast forward to 2015, we swept the US High Times Cannabis Cup in Denver, CO. Of the nine trophies awarded in the solvent categories, we took home five:
- 1st & 2nd Place in Hybrid Concentrate- Crown OG & Nameless OG
- 1st & 3rd in Indica Concentrate- Mega Wellness OG & KushCo OG
- 2nd Place in Sativa Concentrate- Tangie
My good friend and SC Labs courier, Mike Smolka, started Rosin Technologies in 2014, so the lab bought a press and entered Chalice in 2015 with Spacewalker Rosin and took home 3rd place. We continued to enter & win in events all around the world, including in Jamaica, Spain, Colombia, and Chile.
We are not a single-source brand and never have been. I grow as well, but I prefer to hunt for the award-winning growers and the newest strains to have a rotating menu of strains & collabs. So reach out if you are reading this, we do love to work with everyone in the community!
After 58 awards at various events, lots of airplanes, and even more great people, compliant cannabis changed the format and layout. So we pivoted and opened a lab in Las Vegas in 2018, and moved the California operation to the Loudpack facility in Greenfield. Loudpack was definitely a learning experience, corporate cannabis 101 in short.
Las Vegas Cannabis in North Las Vegas was the first ground-up build we did. It still operates in Nevada with the same BHO and PHO line we installed. Nature’s Lab had a concentrate line offering pens, cartridges, jars, and beverages.
Ross & I wouldn’t be bought out, so we moved to Oakland & into a lab that was close to complete. We sealed the floors with epoxy, installed the closed loop, and started back up. Then the Genius Fund bought the lab partner and again, we wouldn’t sell.
Luckily we built a Type 6 lab with 3C Farms/Coast to Coast, so we moved back home to the valley and got back to our roots. Which was producing sick collabs with our old friends that weathered the compliant storm, and joining with some new farms that had been around, but we hadn’t had the pleasure of processing their material.
At this point, CRC tech in BHO had about ruined that market with so much trash being passed off as quality products, and tanking prices. We focused on solventless at our Type 6, in addition to solventless vegan gummies, beverages, sublingual tabs, hash holes, and disposable rosin pens. Recently we have opened up a lab in Ojai and have added BHO back into the line-up.
Where do you currently operate?
In 2020 we moved into Flower One in Nevada and revamped the lab space (45k sq ft), and offer a line of concentrates again in Nevada. Our solventless line will be operational by the end of January 2023 and will include pens/carts, jars, gummies, chocolates, tinctures, and sublingual tabs. We have recently added a new array of strains to cater specifically to the solventless division of the lab.
In 2021 we opened up St. Louis, Missouri lab with MACx. Initially, we fell one spot short of being awarded a license, until one license holder got caught stacking licenses. Due to that, we started about six months or later than everyone else, but we were the only solventless lab out of the gate. Since then we have upgraded facilities and are working on new flavors to start dropping in February and March ’23.
In 2022 we designed and built the Cookies Florida lab with TRP and in August ’22 we opened our first Florida store in Miami. Natures Lab is currently available only in Cookies stores in Florida per the state’s vertically-integrated regulatory model.
What is your “why” for first getting involved in cannabis?
I was selling weed (& mushrooms) in both junior high & high school. It was my medicine of choice, and it was never consistent in Arkansas. One week it’s the dankest weed you’ve ever seen, and the next week it was straight schwag. I sold weed and dabbled in hash in college, so when the opportunity came to move to California to grow and blow glass, I was sold.
Why do you love hash?
Hash entered my life late in high school when I got to college and had a source and a recipe. I love the functional effect of it compared to flowers. A proper dab and my tasks get knocked out infinitely quicker, as my mind isn’t racing and I can concentrate.
Hash has also brought a lot of the people in my life together and with it, I’ve been able to help countless people with chronic pain, anxiety, and sleep problems, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.
Who was your mentor?
When I started making hash, I had no mentor. I had books I bought with every Barnes and Noble gift card that I ever got from childhood. I’ve been a pothead since the tender age of 11 (shout out Taylor lol). I can say that I read Hashish by Robert Clarke, Cannabis Alchemy: The Art of Modern Hashmaking by D Gold, and Marijuana Chemistry by Michael Starks. Those real-world guides, plus college chemistry, gave me a focus. Ultimately though, I got handed a bag of material in 2007 and the grower said “you’re an engineer or something, figure it out”, so I did.
Years later in 2017, Mila Jansen taught me how she made hash, shout out to Dougie from Hitman for making that happen. Since then I try to always remember knowledge is power, and I would gladly sit with other extractors at any phase of their journey and pass on tech when I can. In that vein, I think Mila would really be my mentor, as she is the only one that showed me tech that wasn’t holding back. No one really taught classes much back then. I do regret missing Frenchy Cannoli’s class. I had a ticket, the opportunity, and messed up the travel times.
Where do you see the hash industry going in the next 5 years?
I think distillate is going to become more of an ingredient, and may almost vanish other than the very low-end cheap way to smoke concentrate. Plenty of the MSOs will go heavy on the distillate pen to the masses model.
Solventless is becoming stronger as an input for everything…from edibles to hashholes to pens. I think that’s going to continue, but I also feel like BHO is making its way back too. BHO has always been effective and like it or not, it’s how a lot of us fell in love with hash. Clean OG Kush crumble is still a staple to me in my lab. Fire in, fire out is the way in our line-up.
I think mainstream consumption methods will lean more and more toward edibles or smoking/vaping alternatives. However, the true connoisseurs will never stop demanding high-end rosin..and even BHO again soon.
What was your favorite part of the Legends Of Hashish II event? What would you want to see added next year?
The event was a great time overall. I got to see lots of hash makers I hadn’t seen in several years and some names that I was happy to finally meet in person. My favorite part was getting to hang out with a like-minded community.
The scoring methodology could be adjusted so everyone could see how they fare overall, but there was a technical glitch on the intended online judging, and I’m sure that won’t be the case for the 2023 Legends event.
What was your favorite Legends entry?
I’m an OG Kush fan, I like all the gassy strains and chem strains. So the best for me was Heritage Hash with their Queens Chem. Shout out to them for entering Chem!
Come chill with us every week at the Friday Sesh for a freshly packed bowl of the week’s best cannabis news!