by Anna Ervin
Nothing will solidify your love for humanity more than getting to explore the mindset of individuals who are passionate about helping Oklahoma patients find medicine that works for them.
I had heard nothing but positive things about Easy Street Extracts, so I went into this interview with pretty high expectations. Josh Parsons, Kevin Ferdowsian, and their crew of dedicated processors did anything but disappoint.
Kevin and Josh started their journey into Oklahoma’s cannabis industry through a mutual appreciation for and belief in the power of cannabis as medicine. These two seem to have a unique, holistic perspective on cannabis that can sometimes be hard to find.
Easy Street Extracts’ flagship product are vegan, full-spectrum gummies infused with rosin that’s pressed in-house. I feel like this is a bold choice, but one that makes me want to support their company even more.
The quality of your medicine, how it’s processed and where it’s coming from are all factors that influence the amount of healing you will receive from it. Let me tell you, my heart swells to see industry leaders taking the time and dedication required to produce products that truly fulfill their potential as medicine.
It’s interesting to me that you were both attorneys before you got into the industry. How did you get from there to here?
Josh: Well, we were both in oil and gas and it was the perfect time to transition into something. Oil and gas has its ups and downs, and it was on a down swing. We were both interested in the product as well.
We both advocated for SQ 788 and believe in cannabis as a medicine. It was just perfect timing.
Kevin: I’ve known Josh for a long time, and I know how he works, and we just work really well together as far as problem-solving. We had talked about partnering, and we had done deals together and just always been good friends. This opportunity arose and both of our business strategies are to chase burgeoning markets. This was a burgeoning, developing market and we had some good strategies to enter into the marketplace.
For me, the idea of transitioning from fossil fuel generation to a plant base that I actually really believe has strong medicinal value, and it’s four times more oxygenating than a rainforest as a crop… I just saw a lot of potential and it was inspiring to be part of that.
Tell me the story behind your name and logo.
Josh: Easy Street just means easy going, comfortable, worry free. That is kind of the place we wanted to be in. As far as our logo, our ad group came up with that. I thought we needed a mascot. A walrus represents a lovable, lighthearted yet sophisticated character. He’s got a bow tie, he’s supposed to be in a tux, like a sophisticated, fancy walrus.
Since we last visited you guys, which sounds like it was around the time that you first got started, what are the biggest developments you’ve made?
Josh: Really, just perfecting our processes. We were not candy makers before, so we have kind of developed into professional candy makers. We have got our process down and are really efficient. It’s the cleanest possible product you can put on the market. We are proud of what we have done.
It sounds like you have grown a lot in the expansion of your sales as well.
Josh: I think we’re producing ten times more than we were after our first few months. And we have a really good following. We get amazing feedback from our patients. We have people tell us they won’t eat anything else because they just love the effects of our gummies, and they really get the entourage effect from the rosin.
So it’s not just a product that people are seeing on the shelf and saying, hey I want to try that, but you’re actually gaining loyal followers. And you’ve seen growth on that level, not just on the numbers level, but as a grassroots, independent company. And you’ve figured something out.
Kevin: One of the most powerful ways to grow is to hear about a brand from someone you trust, like a friend who has tried it. Word of mouth development is really where it’s at.
Well, that starts with the product. Good product development takes time and requires patience. If you want it as perfect as it can be given your circumstances, you’re not satisfied with something that is inferior.
We came up with a hundred iterations of our gummy until we came up with what we wanted. For subsequent products we want to do the same thing so on the back end we don’t hurt our brand. That patient loyalty is because it’s a good product.
Josh: That is our main focus is premium products and helping patients, so we’re not just rushing something to market to try to make money.
I like that you’re not playing a popularity game, you’re playing an actual content game which means that you’re bringing the good and you’re popular because of that.
Kevin: It’s a little slower growth model, but it’s way more solid. We can see that we are eating into some of that. Because other brands that came to the market early, they built a lot of loyalty early. When you try a gummy, or try a product, you kind of stick with it, it almost becomes a personal thing.
One of your questions is what are one of the obstacles we’ve encountered. It’s really getting people to try something that they’re not used to. And we think that if they do try it that they will really enjoy it.
That it’s really a valuable product, and when I say value, for the quality that it is it’s at a very good price range. That’s what we wanted to do. Although it’s a premium, crafty product in a way, for how we do it, it’s much more labor intensive than the way anyone else does it. We really have focused on the quality of the product.
And you have human hands on it that care. Your team seems to be a very big part of this culture.
Josh: They are really passionate about cannabis and about the quality.
Kevin: Our team is made up of people who have experienced the health benefit of cannabis. And in some cases, it has saved their lives. Specifically, in the case of opioid addiction, people have gotten off heroin using targeted cannabis doses. The people on our team know that and I think that’s why they’re so passionate about it. It either affected them individually or somebody close to them.
You claim that your products are the fastest acting edibles on the market. Why do you think patients are feeling the effects of your products so quickly?
Kevin: You want some science?
Let’s hear it.
Kevin: “Not all milligrams are born equal” is our motto around here. And they are not. If you have 20mg of distillate, it is just not the same as 20mg of rosin.
What we do is we try to do the best research for the existing science, and as the new science comes out, the surveys and results. We’re vertically integrated so we’re interested in all of it, the medicinal components of what we’re doing here but also the growing technology.
There are two good reasons why our product is fast acting and the reason it stays around… When you consume edibles through ingestion, your liver produces 11-hydroxy metabolite, it’s an additional psychoactive compound, also known as 11-Hydroxy-THC. When that is produced it has a conditional, entourage, synergistic effect with the cannabinoids, and you get a heightened sensation.
That’s why when you smoke 100mg, which is about the average joint, it doesn’t have nearly the effect that 100mg of edibles would, tolerances and built tolerances aside.
The second component is the delivery method. As it turns out, coconut oil is an ideal soluble lipid that, number one, infuses well with cannabinoids and number two, is directly absorbed into your intestines and into the liver. Basically, there are a few oils that do that. I’m not going to reveal all of our secrets as to what we do to make that happen, that’s what a lot of our R&D went into. But the choice of ingredients and how we process is why our product as an edible is so much more fast-acting than other edibles. It’s science. If you have a direct streamlined course to the liver, you are going to have a quicker production of 11-hydroxy metabolite, it’s going to enter your bloodstream much faster, and you’re going to have a psychotropic effect much faster.
Furthermore, with a lipophilic substance like cannabis, if it is infused properly, that effect will last much longer as well because you don’t metabolize it as quickly. So, you get a consistent dose into your bloodstream, and you kind of stay at a high. Now there are other reasons, and they have to do with the fact that it’s made with rosin. But essentially, that is the scientific explanation in layperson’s terms without going too far into biochemistry.
Josh: It has a lot to do with our process too, when we add it to the gummies, ingredients, and stuff like that.
So basically, what it comes down to is the way you guys process it is the best way for your patients to metabolize it.
Kevin: We think so. That’s what the present evidence suggests, and we try to follow what the evidence tells us.
Josh: And the feedback we get. People tell us it is fast acting all the time. We have had people tell us they felt it in five minutes, which is crazy for an edible. Some of them take 45 minutes to an hour.
Kevin: One of our philosophies is, even though we think we have the best product, we still want to make it better, we still want to improve so we can always know that we are doing the best by our patients and by fellow Oklahomans.
Josh: We want to stay cutting edge. We feel like if we are not growing, if we get stagnant, someone’s going to knock us off the shelf. So, we are working on new products now, and hope to have at least four new products this year.
Switching directions here, do you guys see any room for improvement in the medical cannabis industry in Oklahoma?
Josh: I’d like to see the focus be on medicinal rather than just headshops, or people just wanting to go get high. It is a medicine, so I want the education side of things to pick up where people know the difference between a good product and a bad product and focus on the medicinal value of cannabis.
Kevin: People are on pain medication, sleep aids, stress medication, mood stabilizers, a whole host of pharmaceuticals that we know are wrecking their bodies. It’s tearing up their livers, destroying their kidneys, and people are dying from it. There has never been a recorded case from the use of cannabis.
Cannabis in its proper form treats all of those things. It treats opioid addiction in some patients, it just has this dramatic effect on people.
Josh: If you look at the states that have legalized, their opioid deaths have gone down a significant amount, so it’s obviously a better alternative to getting hooked on hydrocodone or morphine, whatever they’re taking.
Kevin: That’s something that we are really aligned with, “what’s behind the getting high component?” That’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with that. But when that is the sheath, the covering of what medical marijuana is, then it kind of takes away some other intrinsic values that can really benefit people.
People discard it, they say “oh that’s a drug,” or “I don’t have time for partying.” Personally, it’s helped me tremendously. I think people would be surprised what people can accomplish using this medicine.Doctors, lawyers, teachers, people all over the state have been using this compound to their benefit. I think a lot of those people would like to, in earnest, share that with other people.
The stigma actually stops people from potential health outcomes. I’m not one of those people that thinks this is a panacea, it is not. It will not solve all of our problems. But there are some specific things that will help.
As long as we say this is an evil drug and we put people in jail over it, and we have for so long, that stigma will take time to wash off. You know, you talk to people, and the demographic that could benefit the most from this herb is older people, and so many people over 65 have a negative impression of this.
Josh: They have heard the horror stories of the war on drugs. I think the stigma is going away faster than I thought, though. As a conservative state, Oklahoma has really embraced it.
Kevin: One thing I would like to see is a little more consistency with the regulation. There are some internal inconsistencies that they are working through. Any industry that is developing is going to have those hurdles. OMMA in my opinion has been fantastic, trying to sort through the legislative scheme that they have available to them. I would like to see some better guidance on some discrete issues within the law.
As far as the consumer base, the purpose of this law was to keep it in Oklahoma, all aspects of it, and I would like to see fellow Okies try Oklahoma products. There are a lot of premium, high quality products out there.
Josh: That is a big card we like to play, support local. It is sad to think that people who are putting their heart and soul into this, putting everything on the line financially, are getting put out of business by someone from out of state. That just does not sit well with me.
Kevin: And they are circumventing the law through kind of manipulative means, in my opinion. The purpose of the law was to make these predominantly Oklahoma sourced companies. They have just done a lot of things to bring people to Oklahoma, and that revenue is going out of state, largely.
Josh: We’re fine with a free market, we just like to give our fellow Oklahomans a boost.
What’s next the next stop on Easy Street?
Josh: Another hurdle that we have dealt with is just educating consumers on the difference between rosin and distillate. I think a lot of people are only getting information from the budtenders, so we don’t get to deal with them directly. If the budtenders are not telling them this is rosin infused, or not telling them the difference between rosin and distillate, they have no idea. I think for people to really understand the benefits of rosin-infused gummies instead of distillate we have to educate, and have budtenders educate. That’s a major focus right now.
New products are going to be our main focus for the next few months. We kind of hit the brakes on it last year. When covid hit we started working in shifts, and it just messed up our mojo with developing. We didn’t really have any sales people going out, and we didn’t want to risk anyone being around people.
So, that is the focus now, new products and educating people. We are going to try to do more events when covid subsides. We are going to try to really get the educational aspects of it out there.
I had the opportunity to try some of their 10mg gummies, what an experience. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be on Easy Street. Stay up to date on the latest from Easy Street Extracts on Facebook @easystreetextracts and Instagram @easy.street_extracts.