I was first introduced to OutCo by a savvy budtender at the Ramona Cannabis Co. that knew the brand well enough to articulate why it’s so special. I was sold on the Grape Pie – Indica CO2 Sauce. The moment I removed the small rubber plug from the end of the cart, the terpene profile knocked my socks off. I was so impressed that I reviewed the cart in my blog and decided to explore the cannabis pioneer deeper as a company that’s doing weed right in San Diego.
The first licensed medical dispensary in San Diego County
It turns out, OutCo is no average cannabis company. They stopped being average when they became the first licensed medical dispensary in San Diego County in 2014. They hold a micro business license that enables them to cultivate, brand, market, and operate a retail sales operation.
OutCo continued to be first by investing in scientific staff and developing a state-of-the-art CO2 extraction process. Employing the scientific methods of a Ph.D. in Chemistry, OutCo was able to deconstruct extraction and rebuild it into a far superior formulation process than had previously existed. Once this process was perfected, OutCo was able to use CO2 extraction to fraction off terpenes from the rest of the cannabinoids. These are saved and reintroduced later into oil for vape carts, tinctures, and balms that contain their signature whole plant flavor.
OutCo = Outlier’s medical dispensary
Since OutCo’s license allows them to be a closed-loop vertical, they have a grow facility and a medical dispensary thriving in East San Diego County. Cannabis consumers can also find the OutCo product line in other weed dispensaries around town. Likewise, the company owns a farm in Mendocino, a South Carolina industrial hemp extraction facility, and a dispensary in North San Diego County. This closed-loop business model allows OutCo to control every last drop of product, to provide 100% of what the plant has to offer to its customers.
I wanted to see how a state of the art grow facility/extraction laboratory/super hip medical dispensary operates and Virginia Falces (Vee), Director of Community Outreach expertly facilitated my request. I arrived at OutCo’s East County facility where the magic happens. Once inside the serene dispensary environment Vee, spent some time walking me through the OutCo story and product line. She put some beautiful OutCo flower under a magnifying glass and lined up an array of tinctures, topicals, and oil carts that OutCo’s locations proudly purvey. She teased me with just enough science to prime my attention for what would shape up to be a great tour.
As we moved on from the dispensary floor, I was fortunate enough to meet Austin Birch, Co-founder of OutCo who was there leading a tour of his own. That was another moment when I felt like OutCo, as a cannabis company, is doing it right. Opening the doors, educating people, and having the founder lead a tour definitely speaks volumes to the community.
State of the art grow facility
Next, we visited the ladies. Vee took me to an observation deck that overlooks a 1500 sq ft grow room. I stared down at three different strains harmoniously reaching toward the warmth of the lights above them. She explained that this room houses less than the other two rooms of equal size due to the high-pressure sodium light technology in use. The other two rooms and the nursery, where the mothers reside, are outfitted with LED lighting that draws less energy and runs cooler. This allows for the plants to be double stacked and result in twice the yield for that space. Phasing in the LED lighting, utilizing the City water, and the efficient, non-volatile, solventless, and clean nature of the CO2 extraction process are all ways that OutCo is contributing to the sustainability story for the cannabis industry and being a good neighbor in El Cajon.
The grow is beautiful and I wish that I could somehow convey how wonderful it smelled in there. Imagine the first breath of the day out in nature, with blooms, and sunshine. That’s what it smelled like to me, nature, blooms, and sunshine. The interesting thing is that’s what an OutCo vape cartridge smells and tastes like as well. They are able to maintain that aromatic experience throughout their entire product line and even add to the profile when necessary. That whole plant approach is what makes OutCo a leader in cannabis science and product development.
After seeing the grow, I was prepared for an extraction lesson, which was notably the most fascinating part of the OutCo tour. That’s when I entered the CO2 room and met Blake Grauerholz, Director of Extraction. Blake took the time to patiently explain the process and through that conversation, I learned that weed is like coffee beans and each CO2 extraction run yields a cannabis oil that truly honors the original plant material. Blake explained that the CO2 process allows for the fractioning of the cannabinoids down to the compound so that the end result is super clean and can be used in every other cannabis product.
CO2 extraction meets chemistry lab
Once the CO2 process is complete, the compounds are sent to a lab (in the same building) where Taylor Trah, Director of Formulation turns them into the OutCo product line that’s available at OutCo’s locations and many other San Diego County dispensaries. While I was there, a vat of clear liquid sat churning in the corner on a machine that resembled a giant stand mixer. “What’s in there?”, I asked. “Tincture, with a coconut oil base”, said Taylor. He picked up a jar of clear liquid and opened it so I could smell its fragrant contents. He explained that those were pure terpenes, the true essence of cannabis.
I’ve never seen weed deconstructed like that before. Each compound neatly separated from its equally useful counterparts only to be reunited into one of Taylor’s fine formulations and end up in OutCo branded packaging on a shelf somewhere.
OutCo is a growing San Diego employer
Nearing the end of my OutCo tour Vee and I had some time to talk about the business side of things. I learned that OutCo employs just over 70 people in San Diego County and they are currently in a growth phase, with openings in cultivation, production, sales, and accounting. In addition, OutCo’s medical only cannabis dispensary will reimburse patients up to $40 for a Dr.’s rec or rec renewal within 5 days of receipt.
I nudged Vee into giving me a sneak peek of the new product line, uniquely formulated specialty products for the needs of mature consumers. There will be four unique formulas, one for sleep, pain, inflammation, and lubrication. They are due for release in early Summer 2019.
My tour was over but my relationship with the OutCo brand has just begun. Thank you to the OutCo staff for welcoming me into the operation for the afternoon and for teaching me to stay away from words like winterization and distillate, and instead, spend my pennies on sauce and live resin!
**Full disclosure Outco provided me with a couple of product samples but I am not reimbursed for my opinions or is my work influenced by any brand.