In the gold rush around CBD, products are plentiful but facts can be scarce. Two components of radical transparency set New York-based oHHo apart. First, the brand employs the cleanest components available (using only hemp extract and MCT oil), unlike peers that continue to ramp up to industrial levels. Second, they craft three full-spectrum CBD tinctures that each utilize extract from one specific growing region (be that New York, Colorado or Oregon) and, in doing so, they embrace the flavor profile of each location.
“New York,” composed of single-origin and sustainably sourced CBD from the Hudson Valley, tastes woodsy and dank. It’s a personal favorite. “Colorado,” gathered from the Rockies, intones more spice and cracked pepper. The hoppiest, “Oregon,” is composed of hand-harvested hemp with the oil drawn out using hydrocarbon extraction. Each is recommended for specific intended benefits—from rest to clarity and mental wellbeing. Nicola Stephenson, the brand’s co-founder, took time to explain the differences of their method and how it impacts the final products.
What sort of education did you all need to undergo to understand CBD, its effects and even the market before launching oHHo?
Tim [a co-founder], in particular, went through a full immersion! Years of observing from the outside, seeing the development of both research and social acceptance of cannabis. One year of travel research predominantly across the US as well as the UK and Europe meeting entrepreneurs, farmers, doctors and scientists, corporates, independents, advocacy groups, dispensaries, patients and consumers. Reading voraciously about cannabis medicine, clinical research and completing medical professional courses provided by The Academy of Medical Cannabis—consolidating our knowledge through our partnerships with UCL and John Moores Universities in Liverpool, England. The unregulated and nascent aspects of the market enabled a raft of terrible brands, products and a tremendous amount of confusion. This actually made it very easy to know how we could provide exceptional products with integrity.
Can you talk about what sets you apart in the market and how people can shuffle through all of the brands to find one that works for them?
I think most of all we have sourced components that actually work. We think about CBD in terms of the ‘entourage effect’ which is the entire plant working together and then being extracted cleanly. We noticed that different plants from different terroirs produced different taste profiles and effects and so we think about our oils like wine or cheese. We try to guide our consumers through a journey of taste (lots of CBD products taste pretty awful) and then need state—so the strength of the products depending on what your needs are—our number one selling oil, oHHo New York, we are told really helps with sleep and then oHHo Colorado is great for daytime use. We have seen that the local stories resonate with people if it’s also where they are from—so Oregon for example has been a big hit with the West Coast contingent.
As a consumer, you should pay attention to the transparency of the products. Does it have a certificate of analysis, for example? How much CBD is actually in it? A good benchmark is 1500mg per 30ml as a minimum. There are products on the market right now that are grossly overpriced so knowing your way around the content metrics is really important.
You’ve mentioned before that CBD almost got famous before people had established what it was used for/best for. Now that more data has come in—and experiences attest to it, too—what do you say to skeptics? And how are you educating consumers?
Although we are bound not to make medical claims, the body of research confirms the efficacy of full-spectrum CBD for a wide variety of targets. The high science and clinical data is there and this has been backed up for decades by the anecdotal experience of consumers. We don’t want to dictate but we do want to help set people off in the right direction. We aim to strip down the detail through our dosing guide, FAQs, interviews and articles. It’s all about providing credible education so that people can really understand how to use these products and why.
Can you speak to how the brand sought to develop the three products it offers, with regard to flavor profile and desired effect?
We look at our CBD in a similar way to considering wine or coffee. The craft/connoisseur marijuana market has also influenced our approach. Just as different marijuana strains, coffee blends or grape varieties are a matter of personal taste, we recognize that our individual biology will respond differently to CBD products. Variation in plant profiles enables us to create a portfolio of options with regard to taste and desired effect: rest, comfort and recovery.
For every oil we have, 50 were rejected
We spent two years building our relationships with small-batch, independent organic farmers, traveling the country, sampling products, recognizing distinction and difference. For every oil we have, 50 were rejected. We want to showcase the exceptional in terms of cultivation, purity and taste as well as supporting family-run farms and local economies.
Each oil has been produced from a specific strain cultivated and nurtured in a unique appellation. Focusing solely on full-spectrum products, we were able to find variety in the taste profiles of the plants, predominantly influenced by the terpene range as well as the cannabinoid content and also depending on the extraction method used. Efficacy in our products is fundamental, but we also knew that taste mattered. A lot of the CBD in Europe is made from industrial hemp and often has a very unpleasant, bitter taste. Our oils are made from CBD-rich hemp, high yielding and as beautiful as any marijuana plant, abundant in CBD rather than THC.
Can you talk about dosage—and the sublingual system. What are the benefits of taking oHHo that way?
Another principle has been ensuring our oils provide maximum efficacy of dosage. Basing a moderate dose at 20-25mg we knew we wanted to go large with the quantity of CBD. We also didn’t want to add to the confusion surrounding what strength to buy, which is why the strength of each distinct oil is the same in both sizes of bottle.
The sublingual—under the tongue for 90 seconds—method is really effective for enabling the CBD to be absorbed into your body quickly. We feel that the onset and duration of this method offers the consumer the best experience with an onset time of around 20 minutes and a duration of up to seven hours. Actually, we also advise just dropping our oil on your tongue for an oHHo moment and then swallowing rather than holding under your tongue. Your liver will metabolize the CBD although the onset time may vary by five or 10 minutes.
Images courtesy of oHHo