Maintaining standards like this starts in the cultivation facility. L’Eagle’s founding Director of Cultivation, John Chandler, has one of the most impressive resumes in the industry. In addition to owning and operating USDA-certified organic farms, Chandler holds a degree in horticulture from Texas A&M and has served as a consultant for several organic-focused national food brands. He isn’t alone in sporting such credentials as his teammates possess similar degrees and years of experience within the USDA organic farming community. “At L’Eagle, we strive to employ degreed horticulturalists and plant scientists, who understand agricultural science and who have never grown marijuana in their life. The team cultivating L’Eagle’s medicine are organic food farmers by trade. It’s so fun watching them apply their horticulture skills to cannabis.” John stated. “It isn’t uncommon for grow facilities to be run by people who learned in their basements, or from books or YouTube. You wouldn’t hire an accountant or a tomato farmer with a resume like that, why would you in this industry? Our current Director of Cultivation, Aaron Spindler has an impressive resume (full bio coming soon) and successfully runs L’Eagle’s cultivation facility with the highest standards in sustainability, using OMRI-rated products and producing the finest clean cannabis on the market. We ensure clean cannabis is defined with best practice standards — like sustainability and zero waste — and not just words on a sign.” L’Eagle’s investment into people who will produce a product of the highest caliber ties back to the store’s mission: To run a deluxe cannabis gallery for the discerning connoisseur. It is also a bet that as the cannabis industry matures; consumer education will push for elevated quality and clean pure product.
“We’re confident that both consumer education and industry best practice will start to see value in organic and pesticide-free cultivation in the coming years. As the newness of marijuana legalization wears off, the market will differentiate, think alcohol with wines, spirits, craft brews, etc. or even food with emphasis on locally sourced,” said Amy. “We do what we can to find our peers in the industry and spread the importance of clean cannabis. A rising tide raises all ships, right?” The first step, in John’s mind, is to stop the use of pesticides (an umbrella term for insecticides, herbicides, & fungicides). “This plant is a very easy plant to grow, but it’s a very difficult plant to grow without pests and diseases. Pesticides are very common in this industry. Unfortunately, it’s an industry where the more corners you cut, the more money you make.” Encouraging peers in the industry should help to get some other dispensaries to adopt pesticide-free practices, but it will take the consumer to demand it before it becomes widespread, and that means letting people know how, why and what pesticides are used for. L’Eagle believes that once more cannabis consumers are aware of the types of chemicals that they are smoking, they will be willing to pay a premium for products without them. “Why not put the same expectations on your cannabis as your raspberries?” asked Amy. “The same battle is being fought on a more public scale in the food industry. It is about knowing what you’re putting in your body, whether you’re smoking it, ingesting it or breathing it in.” According to Amy, it’s a public health issue that extends beyond just those who are consuming the product. Employees in a grow operation are exposed to those chemicals first-hand, as well as the public at large after they run off into the sewers. When you think about cultivation in this context, it’s easy to see why natural methods are important to the store.
At L’Eagle, purity of their product is a common theme. That’s why before hitting the shelves, L’Eagle cures their bud for 3-6 months. The standard in the industry is less than a month and quite often less than one week. Curing allows plant matter and chlorophyll to dissipate which leaves a cleaner and purer product. It evens out the moisture content, gives the product a better taste and increases potency. Long-curing like this borders on being cost prohibitive. “We cure our product 3-6 months, similar to the aging process for wine. Curing is a lost art in Colorado, and in a market saturated with assembly line grows, we love being able to offer it ‘the way it used to be’. We know it’s worth it because we know the consumer appreciates it.” said John. L’Eagle has been long-curing their product for years, and have the process down to a science. The shop even has a strain right now, Grape Ape, that has been aged for 12 months. The fact that they chose the Grape Ape strain is not a surprise, as this curing process is analogous to the aging process in wine or scotch. “Anybody can pull a grape and smash it down and make a wine that gets you drunk, but it doesn’t have the depth and the aromas and flavors…? The same thing applies to cannabis. It’s such a unique and distinct plant with countless strains and variations. Why not do your best to capture the essence?” said Amy.
One of the incredible things about cannabis is the variance between different strains. Each strain has differing psychoactive effects based on the percentages of individual chemical compounds called cannabinoids and percentages of organic compounds called terpenes. There are hundreds of different strains with their own traits and characteristics based on their own unique cannabinoid and terpene profiles. A few – THC, CBD, CBG, THCA & CBN – are the most studied of the hundreds that are present. THC is the famous major psychoactive component to the plant, while CBD & CBN have gotten a lot of press for their medicinal qualities. John believes that the scientific testing of these compounds has not been up to par, and given that L’Eagle started as a medical marijuana establishment, the passion behind the medical benefits to the plant are still present. “None of the testing companies today are doing the patient-based testing anymore. It’s discouraging and we know first hand how incredibly beneficial this plant can be to unlocking cures for countless ailments, diseases and pain. When we started L’Eagle providing top-notch medicine included being pesticide-free. If our clients use cannabis for MS, epilepsy, cancer treatment we want to be sure that they could count on a pharmaceutical grade.”
Despite preliminary & anecdotal research showing positive signs, there hasn’t been much government support behind cannabis research. “It is the least intelligent course of action of this country to not just deny the plausibility of their efficacy, but to deny even the research. As soon as the research starts showing any beneficial results, it gets cut off right at the legs,” said John. “Having research that is showing effects like that is beyond reproach. It’s shameful.”
The medical benefit isn’t the only reason that legalization has been great for Colorado and the 20+ other states that have some type of legal marijuana. Opponents often cite children as a reason for keeping the plant illegal. That logic, however, is not backed up by facts. “Look at Center of Disease Control numbers on where teen marijuana use is on the rise, staying even, or on the decline. Places where adults can safely obtain legal marijuana- whether recreationally or medically – teen pot use goes down. Places where adults can’t obtain marijuana legally have drug dealers…and drug dealers don’t card people,” John said. “Legalization has also been incredible for the economy in Colorado.” Amy added, “The number of ancillary business that benefit is staggering. Lawyers, accountants, marketing & PR, IT, HVAC, security, the list goes on and on. Colorado has seen a sharp rise in tourism too.”
The passing of amendment 64 and the wave of progress across the country for legalization has been encouraging from a social level. There is a long way to go regarding the industry’s standards and practices regarding the quality of product. L’Eagle has served as a model since 2009 as a responsible cultivator and distributor of marijuana. By paying attention to details and not cutting corners, they have found themselves on the cutting edge of the organic cannabis movement. Clean cannabis isn’t just a phrase at L’Eagle, it is the principle on which they make almost every decision. Through consumer education and leading by example, they will be pioneers of cannabis for years to come.