HERO Spotlight: Gillian LevyOct. 15, 2018
Gillian Levy is the co-owner of Humboldt Apothecary and started HA with her business partner, Susan Cleverdon in 2015. Gillian's background is in watershed management and botany. She worked as an environmental consultant for many years before collaborating with Susan on the development of the company. Outside of their interest in cannabis, they both have a strong background in herbal medicine and holistic health. Their desire to start the company sprung from a marriage of interest in the growing cannabis industry and their! love for all things botanical medicine related.
Tell us a bit about where the idea for the Humboldt Apothecary was born?
We initially decided to create a cannabis tincture company with offerings that addressed specific symptoms that could be supported with cannabis use. Our first tinctures all featured a suite of other medicinal herbs with the cannabis to maximize the benefits of each formula. Cannabis was historically used in combination with other medicinal herbs. This is because the suite of constituents that exist in the different plant compounds have a synergistic effect and are thus more potent and effective when taken together. We designed our line of products to fill a niche in the industry that seemed to be lacking. The result has been mind blowing. We have a growing following of customers and some pretty amazing testimonials about our products.
How has the cannabis industry offered alternatives to traditional treatment and medical supplement?
Most western medicine is based on using pharmaceutical drugs to treat symptoms of a disease. In some cases, it is extremely effective, such as antibiotic use for bacterial infections. In other cases, especially when there are a range of symptoms, traditional western treatments fail to treat the underlying problem.
Cannabis can be incredibly effective for a range of complicated disease pictures. The core of the efficacy of this plant is based in the cannabinoid content and it’s unique ability to play a significant role in moderating our own endocannabinoid system. By using cannabis to modify the endocannabinoid system, we can reduce inflammation throughout the body and can frequently have a broad effect on patients that are dealing with chronic pain, sleep disorders, mood disorders, etc. Regular cannabis use can be extremely effective and is considered safe and generally well tolerated by most patients.
What separates Humboldt Apothecary from other cannabusinesses?
At Humboldt Apothecary, we focus on whole plant extracts, and we feel that it is the synergy between the suite of plant constituents that makes the best medicine. We source all of our cannabis extract from small extraction operations and small farms in Humboldt County. This is because we want a top quality, vibrant product. We also source organic ingredients whenever possible. Essentially, we aim to create a product that is the highest quality available because we don’t want to compromise the product in any way. We want our customers to know that every time they purchase one of our products, they are choosing quality and consistency that they can count on.
What are some current challenges that the cannabis industry is facing as this alternative becomes more widely acceptable?
One of the larger challenges that the industry is facing seems to be the standardizing of the testing for cannabis products. Many of the testing facilities have a huge disparity between their results, which becomes a problem for manufacturers that receive vastly different feedback of cannabinoid content, depending on the lab that they work with. This problem can be compounded by the fact that there are many other ingredients that may alter or modify the potency results.
Where is your ultimate goal for Humboldt Apothecary?
We would like to continue to expand our product line to include other remedies besides tinctures. Currently we are working on a topical line that we plan to roll out over the next several months. Additionally, we would like to start offering our products in other states. We aim to be a leader in the cannabis tincture industry and to continue to offer the highest quality cannabis products available as we grow and expand into new regions.
What about the outdoors and your environment inspire you?
We are fortunate to live in an extremely beautiful part of California with access to beautiful coastline as well as remote mountain wilderness and wild rivers. In my own experience, I have found the most joy and mental peace in staying connected with the natural environment. Additionally, having access to clean water and clean air are some of the most significant contributors to healthy communities.
Is there a specific environmental issue that you personally feel passionate towards?__
I think that I feel most passionate about clean water and healthy rivers. In our community of Humboldt County, some cannabis cultivation practices have definitely impacted the quality and quantity of water in our rivers. One of the great benefits of legalization in California is that farmers must work very hard to minimize impacts to their water sources in order to be permitted and licensed to cultivate cannabis. They now have access to state agencies and private consulting entities to help guide and inform their cultivation practices and to minimize impacts. This regulatory infrastructure has really raised the bar for many farmers. I think that is of utmost importance.
How does Humboldt Apothecary and preservation of the environment intersect?
We try to be good stewards of the land and to build that into our business model. All of the cannabis that we use is sun grown. That is of critical importance to us because indoor growing contributes a huge carbon footprint. We believe that it is imperative to support farmers that are using the sun as their energy source.
We work with farmers that pride themselves in creating farms that minimize environmental impacts by limiting nutrient runoff, building healthy topsoils, and preventing erosion that might impact water quality. We also source as many organic ingredients as possible to limit contamination to the environment from pesticide use. Additionally, we try to minimize the amount of plastic in our packaging and to make use of as many recyclable materials as possible.
What are some practical recommendations for consumers as they consider their impact on the environment?
I hope to encourage more consumers to value sun grown cannabis. As the industry develops, cannabis cultivators are starting to define the unique environmental conditions that shape the quality of the cannabis that is produced. Terroir, or the environmental factors such as soils, climate, and topography that can be expressed in sun grown cannabis, is unique to growing outdoors. Likewise, the carbon footprint from indoor grows is so significant that it is really important to look at the contribution to greenhouse gas production.
Where can people find you, follow you, and get in touch?
My website is Humboldt-Apothecary, and my social handles are: