Jamie’s team will be in Park City, Utah during the Sundance Film Festival January 25th, stop by the Fly Lounge to meet them.
Meet Jamie Evans. He survived cancer, uprooted his life to escape prohibition, and is making waves in the cannabis industry by growing hemp strains that look, smell, and smoke just like their high-THC counterparts, from Silver Haze to Purple Gas. Hemp, marijuana’s genetically similar and yet wildly different cousin, is extremely low in THC (less than .3 percent, according to federal regulations) and high in non-psychoactive cannabinoids, meaning it won’t get you high no matter how much you smoke.
While recreational cannabis consumers may not find the idea of weed that doesn’t get you high groundbreaking, it’s very significant for the vast community of medical cannabis patients who can benefit greatly from other cannabinoids, such as CBD, CBN, and CBG. While further research is necessary, there is abundant anecdotal evidence and a handful of studies indicating the benefits of cannabinoids for a variety of conditions, from drug-resistant epilepsy to chronic pain and inflammation to, in Jamie’s case, cancer.
Jamie is a longtime cannabis consumer, but his diagnosis with leukemia in September of 2015 changed his relationship to the herb. After being told that he would need chemotherapy for the rest of his life, Jamie got tired of “being filled up with narcotics [and] taking a pill for a pill for a pill” and started experimenting with cannabis again, this time not as a recreational consumer, but as a patient. He left his home state of Utah in 2016 for Colorado, forced to leave behind his family in order to pursue continued cannabinoid therapy free from threat of prosecution.
Shortly after arriving in Colorado, Jamie got his medical license and began working with a doctor and the person who would become his business partner, using high doses of cannabinoids in the form of Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) to treat his leukemia. “It really started working for me after about six months, and it’s worked so well for me … I’m doing really good. I’m really healthy, I’m able to eat now, and I’m feeling a lot better.” And, by all measures, he is: Jamie has put on over thirty pounds, including ten pounds of muscle mass, and keeps up regularly with his physician to monitor his continued progress.
However, Jamie’s experience with the RSO was mixed. “I started realizing that all that THC is really, really good medicine, but it’s very intoxicating.” We should note that no one, least of all Jamie, is trying to downplay the the significance of THC to the medical community: “I think you need that intoxication to heal and to put your body at ease” he says. However, the intoxicating effects of THC made taking it at the high doses he needed difficult to manage at times. Jamie grew curious about the role of other, non-psychoactive cannabinoids in his recovery.
Through testing the RSO he had been taking, Jamie and his colleagues noticed that the oil had high concentrations of CBD, CBG, CBN, “all different cannabinoids, and I’m a firm believer that you need lots of CBG, lots of CBC, so full spectrum.” It’s this full-spectrum philosophy that lies at the heart of Jamie’s mission: to produce strains of hemp that are identical to their marijuana counterparts except for one crucial difference — their cannabinoid composition. After doing some hemp farming and “realizing what this plant can do, I really got into the hemp side of it because of the CBD profile and the CBDs — you can really get everything out of it.”
Jamie had found a way to produce different hemp strains with varying cannabinoid content, and therefore the potential to target a variety of symptoms and ailments. Canna Comforts, the company Jamie founded to bring his work to market, is focused not on THC (which continues to dominate the market), but on the lesser-known cannabinoids that pack a therapeutic punch despite their relative lack of press. Jamie’s strains have had an impact on the medical cannabis community, helping everyone from children suffering from drug-resistant epilepsy to elderly patients with chronic ailments and everyone in between, including his own mother and father.
So just how similar are Jamie’s hemp strains to their corresponding marijuana cousins? Well, so far Jamie has had multiple shipments confiscated by law enforcement, only to be returned after they were proven legal through testing. “The flower looks just like the very high-THC flower. It’s got the same nose, the same aromas, the same terpene profile, the same look, the stickiness, the trichomes — it’s all there.” Short of laboratory testing, Jamie’s hemp is indistinguishable from marijuana flower, and that’s a point of pride. “That’s what we’re really good at is our hemp flower,” he says before listing a plethora of top-shelf strains he grows, from Electra to Silver Haze.
Jamie is a believer in consumption of whole cannabis, which is why his hemp strains are so important to him, to his business and, he hopes, to medical cannabis consumers everywhere. “Everybody’s so hyped up on isolate,” he says, “and it is great, it is a great product. It’s obviously an isolated product so it’s pure CBD — you’re getting the good stuff.” However, he says, “I think you need the other profiles. You need something to get rid of the inflammation and you need to be able to stimulate the CB1 and the CB2 receptors.”
Consumption of the cannabis plant as whole flower or full-spectrum extracts instead of pure isolates, Jamie believes, is the most powerful way to reap the maximum benefit from cannabinoids. For this reason, it’s important to Jamie that his hemp retains the terpene profile of its corresponding marijuana strain; there’s evidence to suggest that terpenes, the class of chemicals responsible for cannabis’ famous skunky aroma, may help “prime” CB1 and CB2 receptors, making them more responsive not just to THC, but to cannabinoids in general.
While Canna Comforts focuses on its flower, they also carry a variety of topical products that can be applied directly to the skin to alleviate pain and inflammation. From bath bombs spiked with cannabinoids to soothing herbal CBD salves to hemp-infused lip balms in such mouthwatering flavors as pumpkin pie and cheesecake, Jamie has plenty of options to choose from. He also stocks pure CBD extract, as well as a full-spectrum oil that contains a variety of different cannabinoid profiles. While he strongly believes in his hemp flower, he’s ensured that there’s a suitable hemp product available for everyone, including those who cannot or don’t enjoy smoking. His products are available at dispensaries across the country, but they also ship to your home anywhere CBD is legal (meaning it can legally go just about anywhere).
When asked what he thinks the future holds for cannabinoids, Jamie keeps a level perspective while maintaining his characteristic enthusiasm. “We’re doing pure CBG extraction right now, and it’s pretty exciting … Everybody thinks CBD is so great, and it is so great, but there are all these other profiles are coming out and we’re seeing different applications and uses, and I really don’t believe we know how to use this plant yet.” Jamie believes in his product and its ability to impact lives for the better, and for that reason he’s committed to continuing his contribution to the cannabis community.