After two years at the University of Memphis, Collin Bercier interrupted his studies to move back home to Louisiana to care for his mother, who had been stricken with multiple sclerosis. The disease is progressive, incurable, and slowly robs the person of all abilities. Unfortunately, Bercier had to watch his mother spend the last years of her life battling MS in Louisiana where, at the time, she had no legal access to cannabis, despite many scientific studies showing its benefits for pain relief.
Watching his mother slowly die without simple, needed pain relief sparked a fire in Bercier, which led him to pursue his mission of providing high-quality medicinal alternatives to anyone in need. Ounce of Hope was born with his mother’s painful journey in mind.
After studying all aspects of CBD production, Bercier put together a unique local facility that uses colorful pet fish as the starting point in creating a vertical business, meaning a company that produces almost all of the supplies required for a finished product.
“Fish produce nutrients that plants love, and plants help keep the water clean. We take the traditional ‘vertical’ definition further because we’re fish farmers and a nutrient company, too,” says Bercier. “We rely very little on outside inputs to supply our customers with organic products.”
Aquaponics is a form of agriculture that combines raising fish in tanks, collecting their poop and using it as a nutrient source for the plants. Bercier, 44, is so proud of his aquaponics cannabis farm, Ounce of Hope, that the company offers tours of his unique facility where he raises fish for proteins and nutrients, grows his own plants, and then extracts CBD-related products from the harvest. During the tour, guests learn about the different life cycles of fish and the cannabis plant, from clones and seedlings to flowering buds on mature cannabis plants.
Few cannabis companies raise fish and produce their own nutrients. However, with global shortages, overfishing, and ocean pollution, Ounce of Hope tries to position itself for continued growth with a low carbon footprint. With almost 5,000 gallons of Ornamental Koi and Tilapia in their aquaponics facility, Bercier aims to bring his customers a high-quality product with minimal environmental impact. “Currently, we can harvest about six times per year, and we grow plants and raise fish 365 days per year.”
CBD, a phytocannabinoid found in marijuana and hemp plants, contains neuroprotectants and antioxidants, which help balance the endocannabinoid system in the body. When using pure CBD, the “high” feeling associated with cannabis doesn’t occur, making using CBD products ultra popular for treating various physical and mental health ailments.
Studies have shown that CBD can relieve symptoms associated with reoccurring pain, cancer, anxiety, epilepsy, depression, sleep disorders, inflammation, and more. However, all CBD products aren’t created equally, and different products do different things. For someone unsure of where to begin with CBD, Collin suggests visiting one of Ounce Of Hope’s two retail dispensaries in Midtown and East Memphis to speak with someone who can answer questions on the products that would work best for your individual needs. Typically, a Broad Spectrum product without tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is recommended to start with at low doses.
Collin says, “I also tell my CBD newcomers to Google endocannabinoid system and read about your CB1 and CB2 receptors concerning maintaining homeostasis within the body. For example, THC and CBD help with sleep, mood, appetite, pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with multiple conditions.” Collin says, “We’ve had success with our CBD+Delta8 products for sleep, anxiety, and pain. If the patient cannot use THC, I recommend our CBD+Melation+CBN gel caps.”
In addition to CBD, Ounce of Hope offers Delta 9 THC, Delta 8 THC, THCO, CBN, HHC, and CBG, and they’re formulating new products, too. With products, trends, and patient needs continually changing, Ounce of Hope tries to evolve with patient needs.
While anyone can use CBD products, Collin recommends that you consult with your physician before taking any product. He also notes, “If you have to pass drug tests for your occupation, you shouldn’t use full-spectrum CBD as it contains a little THC.”
“One of the things we’ve done is put the majority of our products into a $5 sample size,” says Collin. He recommends trying all the different consumption methods, such as edibles, smoke, vape, sublingual, and more. “We want our customers to be able to try multiple products, to see what works best for you.”
To learn more about Ounce of Hope and its products or to schedule a tour of the aquaponics cannabis farm, visit Ounceofhope.com.
By Angelique Nihen
Photo by Sam Sikes