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Naturae: Bridging the Gap Between Flower and Oil in New York State

Naturae: Bridging the Gap Between Flower and Oil in New York State

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Cannabis concentrates are a no-fuss, no-muss method of extracting the maximum benefit from a minimum of effort. The simplicity and candor of a vape cartridge offer full pleasure from a pure experience. It is the inhalation of concentrates that makes pleasure and balance move with pleasure. And, after all, isn’t the inhalation of cannabis supposed to be pleasurable? I hope so. It also offers powerful healing, as evidenced by certain still undiscovered medical benefits. I know a lot about this, being in the NJMMP program, which is the New Jersey Medical Cannabis program. 

I was initially intrigued by what Naturae was doing when I was researching cannabis extractors in New York State, so their success is no surprise to me. I offer this short interview with pleasure, and I hope you learn more about what’s going on in New York regarding concentrates. 

Thank you. WB

Warren Bobrow: Please tell me about yourself. 

Nicolas Guarino: My family is originally from Venezuela and has a four-generation history in specialty agriculture, which sparked my interest in the cannabis industry as a professional career. As a passionate consumer, I felt a natural inclination towards starting a hemp and cannabis business.

WB: Where are you from? Where do you live now? 

NG: I’m originally from Venezuela but went to college in NYC and am a longtime New Yorker. I have lived in upstate New York for the past eight years.  

WB: How long have you enjoyed the plant? 

NG: I have been using cannabis for the past 15 years or so, since my teenage years. 

WB: Do you remember who influenced you to try it? Why?

NG: I was always very curious to try cannabis myself, and I found the culture appealing. I found myself browsing the erowid forums, reading about different mind-altering substances. The first $20 gram I ever purchased was at a skate park in a suburb of Houston where I went to school for a few years, and it was definitely something that shouldn’t have been sold to me back then in the first place, but I remember being so happy when I finally got my hands on it.

WB: Please tell me about your business. 

NG: Naturae is one of New York’s leading cannabis producers, licensed for all adult-use cannabis supply chain activities outside of retail. Our house brand, Jaunty, is New York’s number-one-selling cannabis vape brand, available in all of the state’s licensed dispensaries. We have a large portfolio of extract-based products such as vapes, edibles, tinctures, and concentrates. Plus, our latest solventless product drop features gummies, vapes, and concentrates across two brands: Rezinators and Critical. Our primary focus as a producer is bridging the gap between flower and oil. Our goal is to ensure that consumers who typically prefer flower find that our vape products offer a comparable experience. We started with 7 SKUs in January 2023 and expanded our offerings to 46 SKUs as of January 2024.

When New York expanded its hemp program in 2017, allowing commercial ventures and recognizing industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, we seized the opportunity by applying for cultivation and processing licenses. Apprenticeships at farms in Oregon and Colorado guided us toward CBD processing, shaping Naturae’s original concept. After obtaining our hemp cultivation and processing license, we pitched dozens of investors to raise financing for Naturae’s processing and manufacturing infrastructure.

After five years in the hemp industry, the Naturae team transitioned to the adult-use THC cannabis market due to challenges such as price drops from unregulated supply. Our hemp experience served as excellent training for our current operations in the THC sector.

WB: What are your six and twelve-month goals?

NG: Our primary six-month goal is to service 200+ dispensaries with an improved product portfolio across New York State. This will include a ton of new and exciting strains that we are growing with our cultivation partners for our new hydrocarbon program, as well as continuing to improve on our existing lines. A little further out, at 12 months, we would like to see distribution into 300+ New York stores and the solidification of our core product lines for Jaunty and Rezinators in order to begin further automating some of the manufacturing- to help increase supply and scale with the market.

WB: What obstacles do you face, and how do you anticipate removing them? 

NG: One key obstacle we face as a small company is distributing to the entire state of New York. We are looking into potentially working with trusted third parties or adding our own additional warehousing in key parts of the state to maintain control of our service with last-minute deliveries. 

Another obstacle that the entire legal New York industry faces is the proliferation of unlicensed shops selling out-of-state products. The state is under tremendous pressure to solve this issue as it poses a serious civic health and safety risk, so I expect to see improvements over the next 12 months.

Finally, 280E tax implications can’t be talked about enough, as they are crippling every part of the industry. Essentially, the government is robbing law-abiding cannabis businesses of up to 100% of their profits because they tax on gross profit rather than net profit. Until this is resolved, it will be close to impossible for most cannabis businesses to survive long-term. 

WB: What is your favorite strain of the plant? 

NG: My favorite popular strain is Sour Diesel, and my favorite new strain right now is Midnight Scoop. 

WB: How do you enjoy imbibing the most? Smoking? If so, how? Joint? Pipe? Bong? 

NG: Vaping is by far my favorite, with dabbing being a close second. I enjoy gummies and flower occasionally, but usually, it’s vapes or concentrates for me. Since I can’t talk about cool glass, right now, the best vaping hardware out there, in my opinion, is either Greentank’s quantum vapes or Aveo’s luminous vapes. And, of course, the Puffco reigns supreme for concentrates. 

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WB: How did you do the pheno hunt? 

NG: Though I’d like to say there was a significant hunt, I have just run into them trying a lot of live resin and live rosin everywhere I go. 

WB: What is your favorite restaurant near you? 

NG: I live in Albany, and after COVID, the options have been fairly limited. But my favorite spot near me is an Italian spot, which is what I’m always looking for. It’s called Cafe Capriccio. 

WB: Do you have a cuisine that you seek out when you are “sampling” the wares? 

NG: Usually, I look for the best Neapolitan pizza spot in town – if there is one – and they get you everything you’re looking for. 

WB: Do you cook? If so, what is your favorite thing to prepare? 

NG: Absolutely! Usually, simple recipes that don’t require a lot of work but are delicious. My favorite thing to prepare is pasta or meat in some form.

WB: What is your passion? 

NG: I don’t know that I have a single passion, but I love working with cannabis and generally with any production of real tangible goods coming from agriculture that are commercialized to consumers. I find it extremely fulfilling to see the transformation from a super sack or holding tank to a quality finished product under an attractive brand, and cannabis is one of the most interesting expressions of that

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Photo Credit: Naturae 

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