By: Brendan Murphy
Tucked away on a small street in the northeast side of Buffalo is America’s only certified organic finished product manufacturer for CBD capsules. Plant Science Laboratories, owned by Mike Barnhart, specializes in dehydration and milling manufacturing for the nutritional supplement industry. In a nutshell, they process whole foods, extracts, and concentrates into powders for use in nutritional and dietary supplements.
A Different Approach
When New York legalized hemp, Plant Science Laboratories was the state’s first recipient of a hemp processing license. They’re not making the usual tinctures which have become so prominent, though. “Who actually likes taking tincture?” says Barnhart, “Nobody—it tastes bad.” That’s why he set his sights on something different.
Through countless hours of experimentation, Barnhart developed his proprietary “micronization” process, whereby concentrated CBD distillate is processed into a micronized powder and incorporated with organic plant fibers—pea and oat—resulting in a finished product with a particle size of 100 microns. It’s then encapsulated in machine that can produce up to 100,000 capsules per hour.
Besides creating a product that’s a more preferable method of consumption for many people, the addition of plant fibers alters the body’s absorption process.
With tincture, your body digests most of the CBD in the duodenum, the part of the digestive system that connects the stomach to the small intestine. With the encapsulated plant fibers, however, the CBD is digested in the small intestine. The added fiber slows the body’s absorption of the CBD, allowing for an extended-release effect, and a more standardized means of delivering the dose.
Plant Science Laboratories offers several CBD capsule products. Their mainstay is plain CBD, but they also have a CBD/CBG combination which is recommended for nighttime use to promote sleep and relaxation. Their newest blend is CBD and green tea, which contains caffeine and guarana and is better suited for morning or daytime use.
The benefit of powder-form CBD is that you can add it to anything, Barnhart emphasized. Energy drinks, supplements — you name it. Plant Science Laboratories is constantly experimenting with new formulations, and Barnhart envisions his CBD powder being added to a wide range of supplements.
Plant Science Laboratories also distributes their CBD powder wholesale in addition to their proprietary capsules.
Mike Barnhart has a long history in nutritional supplement formulation and manufacturing. Armed with a degree in biology from the University at Buffalo, he considers himself a scientist first and foremost. He’s been working in the industry for 30 years. Plant Science Laboratories has been open for 18.
It’s impressive what Barnhart has been able to accomplish with the company, which he built from the ground up without investors or financial support. “I’ve financed this all myself,” he said proudly. “Everything you see here, I built. When I laid down that first concrete floor in 2003, I didn’t know how exactly this would pan out or what it was going to look like, but I knew it was going to work.”
The building the company inhabits was restored by Barnhart, and was originally much smaller. Over the years he’s expanded it considerably, amounting to what is now a top of the line, multi-million-dollar facility.
They are Good Manufacturing Practices certified, with all of their employees receiving extensive training in manufacturing, food handling, and quality assurance. The facility is FDA inspected, and certified as a dietary supplement manufacturer. In addition to their manufacturing capabilities, Plant Science Laboratories also has their own laboratory capable of conducting in-house quality testing.
All of their CBD is sourced from New York hemp, and the organic plant fibers are U.S. or Canadian grown.
A Noble Philosophy
Barnhart is an avid practitioner of Ubuntu, an African philosophy centered around community involvement. The word means “humanity,” and can also be interpreted as “I am because we are.” By practicing Ubuntu, one focuses on the common bonds shared between one another and their community. Engagement, social equality, and equitable distribution of wealth are foundational principles of this practice.
When asked what Ubuntu means to him, Barnhart stated that it means being part of the community. It means asking yourself “what can I do to support the community?” Hiring locally, and developing things that benefit the community are imperative.
All 13 of Barnhart’s employees live in the city of Buffalo and earn fair wages. The property is a certified wildlife habitat, and has received a certificate of appreciation as a Monarch Butterfly Waystation. Barnhart has also purchased nearby real estate and is working on redeveloping the area.
“We’re not just a company that’s a company; we’re Buffalo,” he said.