I’VE WRITTEN ABOUT juicing cannabis leaves before [Cannabuzz: Juicing with Cannabis, March 2, 2016]. And I think it’s a great idea, but like many great ideas, actually putting it into practice is a different beast.
To start, having a daily source of fresh cannabis leaves isn’t practical for most urban folks. Furthermore, juicing cannabis leaves is a messy endeavor. The last time I undertook the challenge, my juicer made noises like a wounded elephant, and the ensuing mess looked like a 25-pound bag of lawn clippings had exploded on my countertop.
So I was intrigued when Portland Juice Company contacted me earlier this month about an upcoming product called Ananda, a Hindu word that translates to “perfect bliss.” This juice, which is now available wherever you buy such things, has a mere six ingredients—grapes, ginger, pear, lime, Jacobsen sea salt, and hemp leaves.
I spoke with Liz Nolan, the owner of Portland Juice Company, about the new beverage and the benefits and challenges of using leaves from a plant that the federal government still equates with heroin.
Nolan said they use leaves from a strain of industrial hemp known as Fedora, which is grown for fiber. The leaves have less than .03 percent THC, meaning they are absent of any psychoactive properties—they will not get you high.
“We chose to juice hemp leaves because, like most leafy greens, they are very nutrient dense,” Nolan told me. “Not only has research shown that hemp contains B vitamins, essential fatty acids, and iron, but the hemp we use is also sourced locally, grown organically, and is a highly sustainable food source.”
She added that in the four years Portland Juice Company has been cold-pressing juice, they’ve used almost every type of produce. “It’s exciting to be using something unique that also tastes so amazing,” Nolan said. “Most leafy greens have a strong, bitter taste, but hemp is much more subtle.”
She says each 16-ounce bottle contains a little less than an ounce of actual hemp juice. And while there are a wide variety of edible food products that contain hemp seed, Nolan believes Portland Juice is the first juice company in the country to use fresh, domestically grown hemp leaves as an ingredient.
And because the leaves contained less than .03 percent THC, the company is spared from having to work with the OLCC. It did have to obtain a Hemp Handlers License from the Oregon Department of Agriculture, who were “very helpful and supportive.”
Nolan said that, yes, there is some risk involved, considering this hasn’t been done before. But based on feedback from customers and the fact that they’ve sold out every day since Ananda’s been on the shelves, that risk seems to be paying off.
So how does it taste? Honestly, if I hadn’t been told that it contained hemp leaves, I would have had no idea. The two bottles I drank tasted fresh and healthy, but not in the way that some green juices can taste like a leaf pile in a blender (looking at you, wheatgrass). The grapes and pears give it a subtle sweetness, with just enough ginger to lend the drink some mild spice, and the lime and sea salt are a brilliant coda to the experience. Both bottles went down very quickly, and I was bummed when I remembered there wasn’t a third waiting for me in the fridge.
Nolan and I chatted about the Helen Lovejoys of the world, and their endless concern about how anything from the hemp family of plants might be gobbled by children seeking to get stoned.
Yet the high of greatest concern for the vast majority of parents are the high levels of childhood obesity and related diseases brought on by dietary choices that include sodas and heavily sweetened beverages. I would sooner allow any child in my care the choice of this juice over the vast majority of sugary drink choices, even if the hemp content were more than it is. A friend of mine posted photos of her and her five-year-old daughter enjoying bottles of Ananda, with zero evidence that her child then quickly descended into a state of reefer madness.
If anyone tells you how concerned they are about the possibility that their child might consume more greens, it’s time to call Child Protective Services.