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In the Sky with Diamonds

Remember when moon rocks burst onto the scene? Admittedly, we were all into the craze...
By Jen Bernstein
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Screenshot 2023-02-02 at 73208 PM

Remember when moon rocks burst onto the scene? Admittedly, we were all into the craze and amazed at these nuggets soaked in hash oil and rolled in kief. They got us baked. They got us really high. They virtually sent us to the moon.

But, just like Pink Floyd warned, we were cratering on the dark side of the moon rocks. A lot of people turn to them for their supposed potency, thinking that they’re getting the best possible flower. But that idea is pretty misleading, and some producers are using the extra coating to camouflage imperfections—mold, mites, or webs—that any dispensary would give a hard “no” to buying.

That’s why good guys on the cannabis scene, such as Chad Carey, president of Vapor Oil Technology, are shedding some light on moon rock products. “With good, terpene-rich strains the flower completely shines through. You can’t hide good flower with this liquid THCA product,” he says.

Vapor Oil Technology’s coated flower, Space Rocks, shines through with more than good flower; each perfectly cured nug is coated in THCA crystals that shimmer and refract into dazzling rainbows when the light hits them just right.

Knowing that what’s offered on store shelves has been missing from the market, Carey hopes to share the knowledge. He points out that it’s a super viable aspect for growth, and hopes more cultivators and extractors join him in creating these unique experiences for cannabis consumers. “Seeing people’s faces light up when they see it for the first time is really awesome. They say, ‘Wow, what is that?’ and it’s that wow factor, that same feeling from when they took their first hit or dab, that really gets me excited.”

My God, it’s Full of Terps

Carey’s mission is a natural one, to bring the highest quality, freshest flower to dispensaries. And he believes that terpenes—the magical compounds that produce a strain’s unique flavor and aroma—are one of the key components ensuring that freshness. There’s just one small issue: Terpene preservation is a race against time.

The moment the cannabis plant is harvested, those precious terps start degrading. And they don’t stop degrading; the longer the flower sits, the more it loses its best qualities. Or, from a seller’s perspective, the longer a product sits unsold, the less satisfied its buyer will be. It’s always a disappointing experience to get home, smoke or vape flower, and feel … well, nothing.

Carey started thinking about ways to maximize the potential of his high quality flower on the shelf. From listening to and learning from growers, he discovered that strains with high terpene profiles help maintain the freshness of flower—in other words, terpenes are the natural preservative of cannabis.

“There’s a lot of flower that doesn’t hit above 20% THC, but by adding THCA to an already-high-terpene strain, we’re increasing the high for potency that also preserves for the effect.”

—Chad Carey, President,
Vapor Oil Technology

For example, a 16% THC strain with 2 to 3% terpenes will ultimately provide an all-around better experience than a 20% THC strain with fewer terpenes, because while it may be a lower-potency flower, it maintains that potency for much longer. “There’s a lot of flower that doesn’t hit above 20% THC,” says Carey. “But by adding THCA to an already-high-terpene strain, we’re increasing the high for potency that also preserves for the effect.”

Carey’s aha moment led him to research how he could take terpene preservation even further. He wound up producing some really profound results through self-study of his own use, thanks to his background as an extract artist. Carey has been extracting concentrates (with a focus on THCA) for 12 years—pulling it apart, analyzing hydrocarbon extracts, and separating it from the terpenes.

“With processing, we are able to treat each component and process them individually and optimally,” he says. “Terps are volatile and they get a lower temp technique, unlike higher temps of THCA. There are different parameters for different components to complete the processing in the most efficient way.”

Preservation of terps also means bigger yields. Reformulating to create high efficiency in the lab from the start, rather than deploying traditional distillation, soon paid dividends in the form of that beautiful crystallized THCA: micro-diamonds. The final product of Carey’s experimentation literally glistens with potency. The crystal coating is also the shining armor that keeps each Space Rock as fresh as the day it was cured. “It’s like a shell that preserves the flower inside,” says Carey. “It naturally creates a barrier against light degradation and has antimicrobial properties with their own huge benefits.”

And the high? Like nothing Carey and his friends had ever experienced before. Carey’s concentrates pack such a punch that consumers often tout that they need less to get high. Instead of five hits of traditional weed, maybe you just take two with Space Rocks. Overall Carey feels that less is more, especially since it’s less carcinogenic for the same end effect.

Space Rock products really are reaching a demographic of both flower and concentrate users. Carey says their products are the perfect bridge for traditional smokers who don’t want a dab rig, but are seeking a stronger, more elevated high that comes in the same manner as smoking flower.

Sammy, a store manager, raves about Space Rocks. “It’s really something different that a lot of our customers have never seen. Once they try it they continue to come back again and again for it.”

Small Steps for Man

From the minute he opens his eyes to the time that he’s winding down, Carey is eating and breathing passion for his business. Staying creative is important and envisioning new ideas and putting them into action informs his reality and personal motivation. Doing the hard work and going the extra mile has helped with his success. “My goal is to stay passionate about what we do, so we can keep playing and be in this game,” he says. “I wake up every morning and really take the time to talk and listen … and to answer those 100 calls. We work with good people and doing the work is more rewarding than taking the easy route.”

Learning and growing the business along the way has naturally instilled in Carey a dedication to the preservation of the industry’s small business owners. Carey knows it’s so important to maintain relationships with original and smaller growers, and creates collabs and partnships with growers. Like Kai Cannabis in Adrian, MI, their first collab—who have great flowers, Space Rocks has been a model collaboration effort. While maneuvering through Michigan’s market changes and being part of the Michigan caregiver community, Vapor Oil Technology has always been self-funded and therefore tries to band together with other businesses trying to survive against the overproduction in big businesses—which has caused prices to bottom out.

Staying creative, innovative, and growth-minded has been his greatest weapon. Carey credits his company’s ability to bring new ideas to market quickly and shifting with market trends as another tool for success. And here’s something that Carey said that we haven’t heard in awhile: “We are growing and hiring, rather than firing.” It’s clear as concentrates that Carey’s business outlook is on the right path.

Knowing that coated products have had a good growth rate in Michigan, Vapor Oil Technology wants to replicate their success in other markets. “Our Michigan buyers’ next orders are always larger than the one before. We know people like our products and are happy. If we can get to other states and find the like-minded people who share our same values—the ones who want to pick up the phone, talk, and share the same excitement … not just of the product, but for the people—we want to talk to you.”

Space Rocks will be coming to Arizona and Missouri at the beginning of 2023. “I’ve had great conversations with every dispensary we’ve talked to in these markets—and we can’t wait to blow their minds.”

An Expanding Universe

This isn’t the end of the discovery and product perfection for Carey—in fact, it’s only the beginning. Since perfecting his formulations, he feels he’s barely scratched the surface of what his extracts are capable of, and plans to create different coatings for different user experiences. There could be a sleep formulation, which helps patients get a better night’s rest, or an energy product that helps with that get-up- and-go feeling. Not even the sky is the limit.

Until then, Vapor Oil Technology’s latest product launch gives you the chance to do your own experimentation. Space Dust is nothing more and nothing less than pure THCA micro-diamond dust to DIY your own stash; sprinkle it on a bowl, add it to a blunt, or roll your favorite flower in it to make your own Space Rocks