LabCanna - The Real Deal in CBD
I first heard about CBD about a year or so ago from this article in Bon Appetit, the writer claiming it to be the secret to a better night’s sleep. Out of curiosity (and the never-ending quest to sleep through the night) I shelled out the $96 and purchased CAP Beauty’s product, The Daily Hit. The result: absolutely nothing. End of day: I felt as though I wasted just shy of $100 on a bottle of useless oil that tastes like mushrooms. (P.S. I hate mushrooms.) Bummer.
Fast-forward about a year. The CBD craze continues on at a rapid pace - Cafe Roze on the East Side has a CBD cocktail on their menu called The Gateway (comprised of Broker’s Gin, Hemp Juice, Lemon, Egg White, Yuyo Botanics CBD Oil), longtime Nashville-based pastry chef and close friend of mine Danielle Veit (photographed below) has extended her pastry skills into the realm of CBD baking (in addition to her full-time gig as the pastry chef at The Old School Nashville), and two brand-spanking-new CBD shops have popped up on Gallatin Road in East Nashville. Naturally, my curiosity piqued again and I, still feeling the burn from the $96 I spent on the CBD oil previously, wanted some answers.
So this time, instead of haphazardly purchasing a $100 bottle of CBD online, I decided to talk to the professionals. Zac Hudson, co-owner and co-founder of soon-to-open LabCanna East on Gallatin Ave in East Nashville, was kind enough to sit down with me and share his story, plus answer all of my questions pertaining to this mysterious CBD. He was also so generous as to share several samples from his brand TenneCBD with me - so I could do some of my own troubleshooting. (Spoiler alert - this time proved to be way more successful.)
LabCanna is the real deal...and they take their business very seriously. They were the first to be awarded a hemp-processing license in Tennessee back in 2016 and they’ve since begun growing hemp for both seed and medicine on thousands of acres in Tennessee alone. Their products are sold in 300 retail stores, pain clinics, and hospitals - including their new storefront in EN...and that’s all impressive, no doubt, but what I quickly became impressed with the most was Zac’s passion and drive for what he does...in my experience, it’s that kind of heart that creates the special sauce.
Two things strike me immediately upon sitting down with Zac at Pinewood. One: he only drinks water from the natural spring on his property in Pegram, TN (he has a jug of this with him!) and two: he still answers all customer calls, and he makes me aware of this when we sit down, phone in hand. Needless to say, Zac cares deeply about the quality and purity of his product as well as the satisfaction of his customers.
Three and a half years ago, Zac’s grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Upon her diagnosis, the doctors told her to go home, to get her stuff in order...that she was going to die. Like many people, she didn’t want to begin the battle with regular treatment — she didn’t want to tackle chemo — she wanted to try something else. Zac had some experience with cannabis and so his family turned to CBD to find relief for his grandmother. Unfortunately they had to travel to Colorado to get it (it wasn’t until 2016 that CBD products would become legal to manufacture in Tennessee). The family’s home treatment progressed and Zac’s grandmother continued using CBD until it became possible for him to manufacture himself.
Fast forward to today - Zac’s grandmother has been cancer-free for three years and she couldn’t be happier.
Let’s back up a little. Zac’s story began when he was in California, but he was born in New Orleans. “I was raised a very fundamental Christian and had an aversion to the cannabis plant because of all kinds of things,” says Zac. “Then I started cultivating it and realized...this plant is special. I don’t know why yet...but I’m going to dive more into [discovering] why and into this plant.”
So he started cultivating it and started researching and discovering its benefits. That’s when his grandmother was diagnosed with cancer and things became real, real fast. “So [my grandmother, who is] this very Christian woman in West, West Texas [found out she had cancer] and called my mom and told her, ‘I don’t want to do the regular treatment. I want to try something else. What can you do for me?’” Zac experiences this reaction with his customers every day. “Seeing what it’s done for her has made it really easy to continue to be passionate and work hard because there are so many people like her around the world, especially in America, that are getting faced with that same answer from the doctor” says Zac. “The…’Yep, you’re gonna die, get your things in order’ story. And the benefit that this plant has to offer is kind of unmatched in the medicinal world.”
This incredible story led me to wonder - what other benefits does CBD have and who is its primary demographic? Because I would never have guessed it would have healing benefits such as these. Zac thought the same thing. “I kind of assumed it would be young people like ourselves that may be more open-minded and although there are some of those, usually seeking it because of anxiety, I see now what really drives someone is the lack of benefits and all of the side effects of the pharmaceutical industry.” And is he wrong?
The desire to find natural remedies for all sorts of ailments is becoming more and more popular. “There’s enough research out there to see that opioids are not helpful. It’s an epidemic - it’s crazy,” says Zac. “So young people like ourselves are like - ‘I’m not taking that stuff, you know, I’m not interested in that so now I’m going to go and be my own doctor and find out what is beneficial for x, y, z.’” There’s a running joke in LabCanna that selling CBD is like selling snake oil, because it really does have so many helpful uses. And Zac has seen a lot more than youthful faces purchasing CBD products, too. “So many of our customers are older church people or just the older generation that are living with pain and they’re not finding the benefits from whatever they’re taking...or they’re taking something that is helpful but it’s just rittling their body with some other stuff,” Zac explains. “They’re not getting those crazy side effects but they’re also going to continue to get the kind of relief they’re looking for. There are a lot of medications out there that aren’t touching the pain that they have - even the intense opioids.” CBD has become a viable solution for so many of those people.
So what makes LabCanna’s product different? Because, remember, CBD is a relatively new trend — a lot of people want in, and a lot of people who want to make money. According to Zac, there’s a huge lack of education on the consumer side (me) and people don’t understand that there’s a difference in the amount of CBD that’s in each product. Dosing is really important in the medicinal world and that same dosing isn’t explained very clearly when it comes to CBD. “Most products on the market have between 100mg - 500mg of CBD...and this can be helpful but it’s generally not enough, especially if not taken correctly,” says Zac. “Our products have between 600mg - 3000mg [of CBD]...which is higher than most of the products out there.” The product that is their biggest seller is what is called TenneCBD Formula Black, which has 1800mg of CBD. According to Zac, It is around 6x stronger than what someone would buy if they searched Google and bought the first product that popped up. And I can attest to this. The Formula Black was included in my party pack of sampler bottles and I have been sleeping better, and deeper, that I have in years. Zac continued to explain that folks will pay $80-$100 for that bottle (ME!!!). Formula Black is 1800mg and costs $149 — expensive, but potent, and most importantly helpful.
The problem they’re facing (and this speaks very obviously to what I experienced in the past), is that CBD is so trendy but there’s really no federal regulation. The bottle I bought had cute packaging and had a fun story associated with it, but I did zero research on the product itself. And in the end, I was duped. “You know, right now there’s a farm bill that has been put forth that will legalize hemp federally, which at that point in time there’s potential for a lot more oversight on it,” explained Zac. “I think at this point in time that would be helpful because not only is the potency what sets our product apart but it’s also the purity. Because you never know what you’re going to get from some other random product and sadly there are a lot of people out there manufacturing CBD or a hemp extract unsustainably that can be done in ways that are not very sustainable and not very good for your body.” It’s not a regulated product, so many of these oils have remaining solvents and CO2 and different chemicals left behind in the extract because it hasn’t properly gone through the procedure of getting all of those solvents out.
I left my conversation with Zac feeling inspired...and excited for LabCanna East to open — conveniently just down the street from my house.
LabCanna East will host their soft opening on October 26th followed by their grand opening soon after. You can call to make an appointment for a consultation or just walk right in and chat with their staff. “A big part of the store for me is to make people feel safe,” says Zac. “I want people to understand that we know what we’re doing and take pride in what we’re manufacturing. We are researching these products — really guiding people around them. Sustainable ingredients, proper techniques.” Essentially, Zac wants you to leave confident that these are viable products. A big part of that is providing education to the community and to consumers - LabCanna East has a 1,500 square foot event space that will be utilized to help do just that. They’ll have doctors come in and talk about the various clinical trials they’re going through as well as folks with their own personal experiences to share. “...people who have been through really tough times and CBD / cannabis has helped them through that.”
Stop by their shop, located at 1006 Gallatin Avenue - right next door to Pearl Diver. Follow them on Instagram at @labcanna for updates on the store opening.