Meet Austin Sachs: Extraction + Refining Lead

 In Dispensary Dish, MMJ

This month as part of our Staff Profile Series, we sat down with Austin to discuss his career in science and cannabis. Austin heads up our Extraction and Refining Lab Team where he extracts concentrates and terpenes from our harvests. He was born in Fairfax, Virginia, the youngest of four boys. Austin’s family eventually moved south, settling in South Carolina where he grew up living the beach life, surfing, lifeguarding, and golfing. After discovering a fondness for nature and the outdoors while away at boarding school, Austin enrolled at nationally renowned Green Mountain College where he graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies and a minor in Philosophy. But not straight off to work — before joining the workforce, Austin backpacked and surfed his way across Costa Rica and Panama with his then girlfriend. Now married, the couple make their home in Fairfax, Vermont.

Work Experience:

I have been with CVD since 2017 in the extraction and refining lab and am currently the Extraction and Refining Lab Team Lead. Prior to joining CVD, I spent 5 years as Head Production Specialist and Distiller for Smugglers’ Notch Distillery in Jeffersonville, VT. I also worked in the environmental hazardous waste remediation industry and in an environmental laboratory prior to that. I also did some part time/seasonal work at Burton Island State Park, Lake Champlain Basin Program, Vermont Organics, and the ECHO Center.   

Personal Interests: 

Traveling, Farming, Gardening, Hiking, Surfing, Music, Camping

What drew you to work in the cannabis industry?

I have been interested in cannabis for many years. It wasn’t until after college I realized the medicinal properties of cannabis. When I was in the middle of the rainforest traveling in Costa Rica I got a painful rash on my back that turned out to be Shingles. I had no means of getting to a doctor or to any western medicine for 5 days. I acquired some cannabis from one of the locals and that was the only thing that kept me sane. It wasn’t a cure, but it numbed the pain long enough for me to sleep for a few hours. I do not know what I would have done without it.

Another reason I wanted to go into the cannabis industry is my experience as a caregiver for my mother-in-law. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and moved in with us. We chose quality of life over chemo and radiation. Cannabis was something that made her feel better without any negative side effects. Seeing the positive effects cannabis had on her was a joy. I wish I knew then what I know now about cannabis, but I do believe that it helped the situation tremendously.   

What is the most interesting part of your job?

The cannabis industry is rapidly evolving. New technologies are being implemented and old ones are being improved upon. Staying informed with these new technologies and the research being done has always interested me. We are in a medical revolution with cannabis and I am very happy to be a part of it.

Do you have a favorite piece of equipment? 

It is hard to choose just one. I am stuck between the Apeks Supercritical CO2 Extractor and the Pope Scientific Short-Path, Thin-Film Distillation Unit. Both are crucial in making clean and potent medicine, especially for the vape products. By adjusting the pressure and temperature of the CO2, we are able to extract and fraction off the desired terpenes and cannabinoids while leaving the undesired chlorophyll and plant sugars behind. The Pope Scientific Distillation Unit is used to further distill and refine our extracts by removing the heavy residues from the oil, thus purifying and concentrating the cannabinoid content even further. With both of these useful pieces of equipment we are able to provide enjoyable and effective medicine.

What are the most important things about cannabis extracts that consumers should understand?

A little bit can go a long way. If you are a newcomer to cannabis concentrates, start small and work up from there to find the proper dosage and best means of consumption. Also, have some CBD on hand in case you get too uncomfortable with your high. CBD has been known to counteract the intoxicating effects of THC. When vaping concentrates, pay attention to the terpene profiles and vape temperatures. These are the gateway to your cannabis experience. I recommend keeping a log of your experiences as this can help you and our sales team determine which products might be most effective for you.

What is your favorite strain to extract and why?

There are a lot of good strains here at CVD/SVW. As of right now, Amherst Sour Diesel is at the top of my list. The flower and extracts are both amazing. The aroma from the terpenes is uplifting while the oil has an appealing glow to it. Give this one a try if you get a chance.