Frank Stoner and Jarrod McBay are two longtime rollerbladers and great friends of mine that I’ve been skating with consistently since the mid 1990’s. Jarrod and Frank recently launched a hemp extract company, called Hypatia, making CBD products in Denver, Colorado. I sat down with Frank and Jarrod to talk about their company, what CBD actually is, the legality of it, how it relates to rollerblading and it’s benefits. For anyone unfamiliar with CBD or its benefits this interview has some interesting insights.
So… is this thing y’all are doing Rollerblading’s first hemp extract company?
Frank Stoner: Hahaha! Sort of. Jarrod and I are both rollerbladers and have been forever. Jarrod and I met 23 years ago rollerblading and we’ve been like brothers ever since. Most of that time I’ve spent street and park skating—and so has Jarrod—but Jarrod has recently begun a serious crossover into distance, speed, and Big Wheel Blading. He did his first marathon last year and I think he’s doing one or two more this year. But I’m not sure I would call it “Rollerblading’s first hemp extract company” because we aren’t a rollerblading company. We’re a hemp extract company.
Jarrod McBay: But we are rollerbladers, and most of our friends are rollerbladers. So when we’re relying on our networks to get certain problems solved, we routinely look to our rollerblading friends and family. Like, our label guy is a skater that we got access to from a rollerblader, both of our photographers are rollerbladers, our graphic designer is a rollerblader, some of our distribution partners are rollerbladers, and we had a TON of help during our lab build-out from our rollerblading family. Frank’s right though: we aren’t a rollerblading company, but as far as I know, we’re the first hemp company to care about both rollerblading and its future.
What is it that you guys make? CBD oil? What exactly is that?
FS: Our company is called Hypatia Extracts. We chose to name it after a woman named Hypatia of Alexandria who lived a long time ago in Egypt. She was a bad ass scholar and scientist and Jarrod and I both like the ethos and character she brings to our company.
JM: Yeah Hypatia is an inspirational figure for us. She was a scientist and she stood against the fog of hocus pocus that plagued her world. In our current world, hemp is seen with the same bias as marijuana—which is nonsense. Hemp has a thousand uses, and there are powers-that-be that want to keep it away from people even though it could massively improve their quality of life.
We make a range of products that are all infused with what’s called a full-spectrum hemp extract. The thing is, there are nearly a hundred important chemicals that are found in hemp, and only one of them gets you high. Most people have heard of the one “bad one”—its called tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short—and it’s what gets all the attention because it’s what causes all the psychoactive effects. But in all those other chemicals, there is a lot more going on than just getting you high. There’s a chemical in hemp called CBN, which could replace gnarly sleep-aid medications with way less side effects. There’s another chemical called CBG that helps enable homeostasis throughout the body, and then there’s the big one—CBD—which has a whole range of benefits including anti-inflammatory properties, pain-relief properties, anti-seizure properties, and many, many more. Our company makes oils, balms, and salves infused with the full range of these molecules because we see a future in balancing the ledger against Big Pharma companies whose products cause gnarly side effects and—in the case of opioids—wholesale epidemics. The other thing is that it really works. We stand behind it because we’re really about helping people. If the people turn out to be rollerbladers, that’s all the better because that’s who we are, and it’s who we’ve been for close to 30 years.
What benefits does CBD offer a blader?
JM: Oh man. There’s a whole range of things. You can use it for sore muscles and as a recovery agent. You can use it for anxiety, pain relief, or as a sleep aid. A lot of the focus on CBD has been on its anti-seizure properties and there has been a lot of medical research to support and show how well it works in that regard. Probably there isn’t a huge need for that particularly in rollerblading, but the thing that we’ve found is kind of like the six degrees of Kevin Bacon thing. There are all sorts of people in the world with all sorts of problems, and most people in the world aren’t more than a few degrees of separation from a rollerblader. Personally, I take it everyday for general wellness. I’ve been taking it for years and I can honestly say I feel better all the time. It’s not voodoo, it’s science. And it works.
FS: I’ll just add to that by saying that I was very skeptical of this whole thing at first. I’m a linguist by profession and so I tend to focus a lot on the language that surrounds things to get insights into what’s going on. You hear a lot of terms like “tincture” and “extract” in industries that are essentially selling snake oil. I recognize that a lot of those kinds of hippie things actually work for people, but most of the time there isn’t any science to back it up. For me, I started taking our CBD oil a while ago as a sleep aid—anybody who knows me knows what a hard time I’ve had with sleep over the course of my life—and I can attest that I’m sleeping better now than I ever have before. I basically had insomnia during the whole of my twenties, and I’ve had sleep apnea pretty much the whole of my thirties. Getting that stuff under control has been huge for me. It’s not a boon to my skating the same way that a fresh pair of skates is, but I know I’m not going to skate worth a crap if I don’t get decent sleep at night. Rollerbladers need their rest, too, man! We’re not machines!
What sets Hypatia apart from other CBD companies or products?
JM: Like I said before, all of our products are infused with what’s called “full-spectrum extract.” This means that we aren’t just trying to isolate the CBD molecules. Research has shown that the chemicals in hemp work together synergistically, and so we think including all the assets of hemp will yield the best results for our clients and customers. The other thing that sets us apart from other companies is that our process is “solventless.” When you hear about somebody accidentally starting a fire or blowing themselves up, it’s because they’re using nasty chemical solvents like hexane, butane, or isopropyl alcohol. Our process doesn’t use any of that stuff.
We think we’re the good guys. We’re as environmentally friendly as we can be, and we hope eventually to get certified as a carbon zero company.
FS: And we also are the ones doing all the work. Jarrod and I and our partner Mary do literally all of the lab work. We buy bulk quantities of industrial hemp and we do every single part of the processing ourselves. It’s not like we’re rich owners who invested a lot of money and hired a bunch of schleppies to do all the work for us. We’ve educated ourselves about all the FDA rules and guidelines and we care about the process every step of the way. We take great care in handling the raw material, and we give 100% of our care and craft right up through the end when we bottle and put the labels on and ship the products out. It’s a somewhat modest operation right now, but we’re growing every single week and we’re committed to making every single product the best it possibly can be.
So what’s the legal status of these products? Are you limited to just Colorado?
FS: Everything we make is 100% legal in all 50 of the United States. In 2014 President Obama signed an agriculture bill that let the individual states legalize industrial hemp at their own discretion. Since then, Colorado has elected to pursue industrial hemp as a boon to its agricultural sector. The thing is, industrial hemp is defined as any material from the cannabis sativa plant that contains less that 0.3% of THC by weight. But Colorado also legalized marijuana, which is just any cannabis sativa plant containing MORE than 0.3% THC by weight. The important difference comes in the processing. Given the way we make our extracts, there is a stage when we have to concentrate the hemp into a rosin, and, at this stage, the THC levels are well above the threshold allowed in other states. In our final products, though, the THC has all effectively been removed—which is why it’s legal everywhere. But you can’t process the high-THC rosin in other states because you can’t have a stage in production where your THC levels are higher than the state allows. Because of the legal marijuana in Colorado, we ARE allowed to own (and possess) intermediate materials that are—temporarily—high in THC.
JM: We’re also looking into expanding outside the US with our sales. Most countries define industrial hemp the same way the US does, but some—like Australia—require lower levels than the 0.3% required here.
But something else that’s very important regarding the legal status of hemp extract products is their non-governmental legal status. This ties in much more directly with both rollerblading and the athletic sides of things because it affects a lot of us with respect to competition. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)—which regulates drug use (and abuse) for things like the Olympic Games and other big events like the Tour de France—has lifted their ban on CBD use, which means that Olympic athletes and Tour de France cyclists are no longer prohibited from using CBD and hemp extracts to treat themselves for pain, sore muscles, performance anxiety, or for a general “recovery” purposes.
It’s a big deal for rollerbladers and inline skaters who are competing at serious international levels. We’re very happy that WADA has lifted the ban.
How soon can you get the international shipping going?
JM: We’re going to try to have all that stuff figured out by the end of April. There’s a lot to sort out with international shipping. We’ve had bladers from all over the world asking how soon we can ship to them. I promise, we’re working on it! We’ll let you know as soon as our international stuff is sorted out!
What products do you offer currently, and what else is in the works?
JM: I want to do everything! There’s like a million things that hemp can do, and there’s a large variety of ways to deliver it. Right now we offer two hemp extract oils, one in a 200mg potency, and a second in a 450mg potency. For athlete-level performance, though, we need to release a higher dosage oil. We’re working on that right now and we hope to have it out within another month or two. That’ll be a big deal for rollerbladers who want serious results. Right now we also make a range of lip-balms because the climate here in Colorado is so dry. Lots of people really like the balms we’re making, but we also want to create a range of salves that can applied topically for sore muscles. We’re working with Adam Montoya (a rollerblader and mountain climber) and his partner Brittany Strachan (of roller derby and Chicks in Bowls fame) to put out a salve. They’re both awesome and we’re really excited to be working with both of them. Hopefully the salve will be out by the end of the month.
The other thing that we’re working on is a CBD oil for pets. We think that’s gonna be big because of how many people who’ve asked us to make something their pets can take. It’s really exciting!
What are you doing to help rollerblading and what can the rollerblading world do to help you?
FS: Well something that we’re doing that I think is really a huge value to rollerblading is establishing and cementing a formal network of professional associations within the rollerblading community. Like Jarrod said at the beginning, we have a huge and international family of rollerbladers that we’re in touch with. On the one hand, we’re able to give business directly to rollerbladers who run companies that we need to run our business (things like graphic design, construction, web editing and the like). And on the other hand, every good experience we have with our rollerblading colleagues gives us more credibility when we recommend their services to other hemp-industry companies who can utilize the services offered by our blader-owned venders. The idea is that we can help everybody rise up together based on our shared trust and shared connections. By helping companies and businesses owned or run by rollerbladers, we think we can help them be more successful. When that happens, we think everybody in the whole of the rollerblading community will be better off.
JM: In a more direct way, we’re looking for Ambassadors to help represent our company and our products—particularly among our speed, distance, and big wheel blading friends. If you’re interested in being an Ambassador for us, get in touch—we’d love to hear from you!
The last thing that I want to add to that is our partnership with Big Wheel Blading itself. If you’re interested in trying any of our products, you can use the promo code BIGWHEELBLADING (all caps, all one word) to get 10% off anything you purchase at checkout on hypatiaextracts.com. We get a sale, Big Wheel Blading gets a kickback, and you get one of the best hemp extract products available.
Thanks for taking the time, guys. Anything you’d like to add?
FS: I just want to thank everybody who has read this interview, and everybody who has taken an interest in our company. I want to thank our partner, Mary, and our one employee, Sandra, because they’re both bad asses. Most especially, though, I want to thank all the rollerbladers who’ve helped us get Hypatia off the ground. Without their help, we’d be nowhere.
JM: I want to thank you, Jan, for the opportunity to share this info about our project, and I want to thank the rollerblading Ambassadors we’re currently working with, namely Zeign Lee, Abbee Rickman, and BFree. Those guys are great and we’re really happy with the working relationships we’ve got going with them.
Follow Hypatia Extracts on facebook, instagram and twitter to follow their progress and see what new exciting products they come out with in the future. Also don’t forgot to use the promo code BIGWHEELBLADING (all caps, one word) at checkout on our website to get 10% off anything you purchase. This not only supports them but also supports us with our website.