Rack Ops

Marisa Budaj, Joe Rivas III and their baby, Charlie in front of a Rack Ops banner. Budaj and Rivas incorporated their seed-to-bottle CBD oil business in Phillips.

In late 2019 Phillips gained a new set of entrepreneurs when Joe Rivas III and Marisa Budaj came to town. Living in California, they were ready for change. Rivas had retired from the Army Green Berets. He noticed that war veterans returned celebrated but simultaneously pushed under the rug. Injuries like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury were diagnosed in high numbers but with little understanding and consequently little relief. Meanwhile, both Rivas and Budaj had the business acumen to apply to the problem.

Together Rivas and Budaj incorporated Rack Ops CBD. At the core of their business philosophy is a passion for helping veterans overcome their mental anguish. According to Rivas, “I came back from overseas lost and looking for something.” He witnessed friends who would mask their pain with alcohol or other drugs and he knew the situations they had been in had already exposed them to toxins like “burning trash piles and tires outside of our base camps.”

When Rivas and others reached out for help, well-meaning Veterans Affairs agents responded with prescriptions including antidepressants and sleep aids. He wanted a natural option.

Rack Ops is standard military jargon for “time for sleep” or “hit the racks.” Veterans with PTSD often struggle with sleep. Budaj said, “Sleep is the basis of how you function. It takes up a main part of your day, and yet a lot of veterans experience anxiety around sleep. They either don’t want to do it because of the nightmares it brings, or they just can’t fall asleep.”

Rivas and Budaj discovered that cannabidoil (CBD) could help. CBD is derived from the hemp plant, a cousin to marijuana, it has a complicated reputation in the U.S., where another oil from the plant, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is illegal for its psychoactive effects. CBD lacks federal regulation because of its mother plants’ legal status, although Budaj is quick to add, “Many vitamins also lack federal regulation.”

Rack Ops understands this concern and answers it with a seed-to-bottle philosophy. “If you test most CBD oil you find in gas stations you will find trace amounts of metals resulting from overseas production and smog in the countries it is manufactured,” said Rivas. “We have a vertical operation, which is very rare.”

“It’s a lot of work but guarantees a clean product,” Budaj added.

This means Rivas and Budaj are solely responsible for all aspects of production. They grow the hemp on organic soil, a rigorous certification process that requires land to be pesticide-free for a minimum of three years, inclusive of possible airborne irritants from nearby fields. They then extract the oils from the plant in their lab, sending batch samples for third-party certification to ensure purity.

Highlighting the importance of transparency in this process Rivas said, “We want clients to feel better.” Budaj echoed, “We create our CBD in small batches, never more than 100 units at a time, ensuring nothing sits on the shelf for longer than one month.” Both agree this attention to detail makes the process more arduous but also more rewarding.

Rack Ops has an online presence at www.rackopscbd.com where they sell an assortment of CBD oil tinctures, gummies, bath bombs, and soap. They also ship worldwide through Amazon and have donated over 5,000 bottles of product to the veteran community.

Rack Ops CBD is clear on its mission to take care of the people they believe would be the first to give their lives to protect the country. Compassion and perseverance are the secret ingredients to Rivas and Budajs’ product.

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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