Joseph C. Escobar grew up in a “small, lower class” Panama barrio called Panama Viejo, immigrating to Oregon with his father at the age of 12 in search of “better education and opportunity.” He turned that opportunity into Pangaea Organics, an award-winning and soon-to-be vertically integrated Cannabis company based in La Pine.
What year was Pangaea established? How did you get started in the industry?
Pangaea Organics (Parent Company of Pangaea Extracts & SMOKE Oil) was originally established in 2014. I was exposed to Cannabis cultivation back in 2006 when a friend needed a caretaker to cultivate Cannabis for her. She had her OMMP card for a chronic illness. I immersed myself in Cannabis cultivation around 2008 when my significant other (at that time) got her OMMP card and we started to cultivate in a one-bedroom apartment.
What inspired you to name your company after the supercontinent that broke apart some 200 million years ago?
In college, a couple of my friends and I used to meet on Thursdays to share ideas. At that time, we decided that we’d build a street food cart with a global fusion style menu. We invested a bit of time into it but couldn’t make our minds up about the name. A friend chimed in with the name “Pangaea” and explained the concept to me. I immediately knew that was it. Unfortunately, none of us knew much about food [laughs]. I had already been cultivating Cannabis for about six years and one day, when we were all hanging out I said, ‘Well, we know nothing about food but I know about Cannabis cultivation.’ From then on, all of the food cart branding was used for the Cannabis business.
Is Pangaea single-source? What qualities do you look for when sourcing material?
At the beginning of the venture, we also produced our own flower. Unfortunately, with recreational licensing (and the lift of the out-of-state investment moratorium) came lots of out-of-state money, overproduction and extreme market saturation. This led to the market crash of 2018-19. Us small-batch, organic producers could not compete with the large, outdoor, conventional producers. We had to stop producing flower and start focusing on processing. We’re in the middle of negotiations for an outdoor farm partnership so we can produce in-house flower and single-source extracts. This project should come to fruition Summer 2021. Currently, we source processing material from some of the best farms in Oregon like Orekron, Frontier Farms and Leap Farms (to mention a few).
Your company website lists multiple types of extracts. Do you specialize in any particular product or have a personal favorite?
We’ve been producing real ‘fresh frozen live resin’ since 2016 or so and it’s my favorite. A lot has changed since then. ‘Live resin’ used to be the description of a product made from ‘fresh frozen’ material. Now, the term ‘live resin’ is thrown on any product with a light color appearance. ‘Zombie resin’ was our classification of an extract made from four to five day cured material. This product had a higher yield, with a minor but acceptable pigmentation sacrifice. We won a Dope Cup back in 2018 with a Tangie zombie resin.
“When it comes to diversity in the industry, I personally feel that it’s ingrained in the very core of Cannabis culture altogether.”
PHO seems to be scarce these days on the Oregon market. What do you like about using propane as a solvent?
Why do you think PHO has taken a backseat to BHO products? Pure PHO has definitely taken the backseat in the market. What most extraction companies do not disclose is that they use a blend of butane and propane. In most cases, it’s a 70% butane and 30% propane blend. Some of the advantages I saw in PHO from the beginning were efficiency in the extraction process and faster solvent recovery times. Propane’s (liquid state) temperature is -43.6 fahrenheit, which means that although the system runs at higher pressure, the extraction process is being done at very low temperatures, producing a ‘better’ product without the need for dry ice or chillers. Propane is a less aggressive solvent than butane and strips less undesirable matter. At the same time, it’s less efficient at extracting terpenes. Extraction technology has evolved at a fast pace in the last five to six years. With liquid CO2 cooling, mechanical filtering and media filtering I don’t see PHO becoming popular again. Butane is a much better fit for extraction now that the technology has evolved.
In light of recent national and global movements, how do you think the Cannabis industry (and producers like yourself) can encourage and facilitate diversity in our industry?
When it comes to diversity in the industry, I personally feel that it’s ingrained in the very core of Cannabis culture altogether. We used to be the kids your parents warned you about. We used to be the outcasts smoking ‘dope.’ We used to be drug dealers. I feel that before Cannabis became a big regulated business, enthusiasts were socially shamed and stereotyped. As an underground movement, we associated with likeminded people, regardless if they were black, white, yellow, pink, purple, green. Who cares! I’m foreign and grew up with people of different nationalities. In my heart, there is no difference. In my business everyone is welcome. Diversity makes the world rich and beautiful. Let education, dedication, motivation, determination and willingness to win speak louder than words.
INTERVIEW by AMANDA DAY @TERPODACTYL_MEDIA | PHOTO by JOSHUA K. ELLIOTT @SONDERFELTLLC for OREGON LEAF
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