Excessive Desert CBD startup needs to assist, not get you excessive

More than three years of building a legal-cannabis business from the ground up on a 250-acre farm outside Barstow is now yielding James Haskins and his High Desert friends their first retail location as a locally-run business for people — and pets — seeking a new way to fight ailments of all kind.

Blended Canna is Hesperia’s newest shop focused on all things cannabidiol, or CBD. The business “started in 2018 following the passing of the federal farm bill” – a Trump-era act that separated the criminalized class of “marijuana” from hemp, or cannabis with extremely low levels of THC – “with two guys standing alone in Barstow CA,” according to Blended Canna’s website.

The newly-launched CBD site on Hesperia Road, neighboring Desert Barn Brewery and Toys for Trucks, will be fully opened seven days a week by June 1, Haskins says.

It’s running now on an infrequent schedule after first opening its doors at a ribbon-cutting with the Greater High Desert Chamber of Commerce on April 20: this year’s iteration of the annual pot-smoker holiday, “4/20,” two years from the date of Blended Canna’s initial filing as a business, according to California Secretary of State records.

Yet, Haskins isn’t selling people on the chance to “smoke marijuana and bake your brains off.”

“We’re not here to get people high,” he told the Daily Press. “We’re trying to help people in a way that gives them relief. It’s another alternative to taking an extra (narcotic), hydrocodone, or all these things that we’ve been prescribed our whole life.”

Blended Canna is one of many businesses in a movement that has gained steam in the past decade to legitimize CBD, and hemp more broadly, as elements of the cannabis plant with myriad value entirely separate from the traditional understanding of marijuana, which some call a stigma against one of man’s longest-used plants on the historical record.

The 2018 Farm Bill is one example of how this idea is becoming ingrained in the everyday world. CBD has been recognized by health officials and institutions as effective for treating or even preventing a range of ailments including chronic pain, anxiety, seizures, insomnia and addiction.

These authorities do maintain a caveat that the substance needs to be studied further for potential risk and that it does still produce a far more subdued form of “high” when used — though some CBD users argue the latter point is part of the benefit.

This is why Blended Canna focuses its message on providing individual focus and care to ensure the correct regimen is identified for each customer. “We emphasize that it’s not some magical cure,” Haskins said. “Everybody’s body responds differently.”

The business offers a lot of options: CBD gummies, CBD tincture drops, CBD lotion – even pet-focused CBD peanut butter and tinctures apportioned with a concentration to properly mellow out your dog.

Unlike many of its peers in the CBD business, Haskins says, Blended Canna is set apart by being entirely localized in the High Desert and intimately connected to the people it serves.

“We’re one of the only CBD companies out there bringing it from farm to table, and then also, we do third-party testing on every single thing that we have in our bottles,” he said. “It’s a lot more expensive the way that we do it, but we do it a lot better than a lot of those companies out there.”

A small team drives Blended Canna. Haskins cited his wife and co-owner, Korri; a third co-owner, John Miller; and Store Manager Brittany Careuthers as his key counterparts in ensuring Blended Canna’s farming and nascent retail operations remain a well-oiled machine.

Well-oiled may be the wrong term, though. The 250-acre farm eight miles south of Barstow is 100% powered by the sun — about 600 solar panels producing more than 100,000 kilowatts of power, according to Haskins. He and Korri, his wife, were in Arizona picking up 100 more when they spoke to the Daily Press on Monday.

Korri, like her business partners, says Blended Canna isn’t just a business to her. She can personally testify to the benefits of CBD, because she says it “saved” her from more dangerous but far more widespread habits.

“I used to take blood-pressure pills, and I used to drink like a fish to bring down anxiety,” Korri said. “I don’t hardly drink anymore at all, and I don’t take blood-pressure pills.”

Charlie McGee covers California’s High Desert for the Daily Press, focusing on the city of Barstow and its surrounding communities. He is also a Report for America corps member with The GroundTruth Project, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to supporting the next generation of journalists in the US and around the world. McGee may be reached at 760-955-5341 or cmcgee@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @bycharliemcgee.