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Fly By Night: Do Your Gummies Take the Red-Eye?

By Douglas Rohrer
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The global vitamin supplement market is projected to grow at 6.2% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to $71.37 billion by 2028 with the most rapid growth now occurring in the gummy vitamin segment. Gummy supplements are expected to have the fastest CAGR at 12.6% to exceed $33 billion by 2028. Initially developed for youths, gummies are now preferred by all age segments as an alternative to tablets, capsules and pills.

As one might expect, cannabidiol (CBD) gummies are also projected to grow rapidly at a 30.7% CAGR to $13.9 billion by 2028. In terms of actual number of CBD gummies produced last year, a rough estimate would be at least 1.7 billion. For perspective that equates to 53 gummies produced every second, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. One might reasonably ask, “So where do all these gummies come from?” and “Who makes them and under what conditions and quality assurance standards?

There is no short answer to these questions nor confidence that all cannabinoid gummies are manufactured with adherence to a minimum set of safety and quality standards. Gummy recipes and ingredients are readily available online and there is no shortage of hobbyists who make small batches for family, friends and to sell at retail pop-ups and farmers’ markets. There are a number of well-known brands that started out in home kitchens and garages. In terms of production scale, on the other end of the spectrum are companies like Bloomios, Inc. (OTCQB: BLMS), that operates a 51,000-square-foot Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) compliant facility in Florida.

The Hobbyists

A variety of CBD products on the market today

For the hobbyist producer, they often begin to scale out of their home kitchen and take over part of their garage or basement and while the entrepreneurial spirit is admirable, most consumers wouldn’t be comfortable with their pharmaceuticals, supplements or even grocery items being manufactured under these conditions which often lack:

  • Rigorous sanitary practices
  • Measures to mitigate contaminants entering the production areas
  • Quarantine, chain-of-custody audit and testing of active ingredients used in production
  • Standardized and rigorous quality assurance testing of finished product
  • Certificate of Analysis (COA) for active ingredients in finished product for certainty of dosage levels
  • Labeling and packaging standards to ensure product information and volumes are correct
  • Batch record data collection, retention and audit procedures.

However, the hobbyists constitute only a very small fraction of gummy production today, and they typically take great pride in their work and show a high degree of care in production practices. Thus, when demand begins to outpace the artisanal home production capacity, many growing brands turn to contract manufacturers to assist with scaling the production side while the brand focuses on the sales, marketing and distribution side of the business. This is an ideal solution as high quality product can be produced at volume in cGMP facilities which enhances the consumer experience, confidence in the product and further grows brand value. This is a best-case scenario of small emerging brands that care deeply about their reputations and their customers’ experience scaling production and growing responsibly.

The Opportunists

The real underbelly of commercial gummy production is characterized by the pure profit seeking producers that set up semi-permanent production lines in flex-industrial spaces not suitable for food handling, with limited buildout for isolation of each production stage. This process includes: materials storage, weight/measures prep, ingredient mixing, molding, dehydration, coating, sorting and filling, labeling and finish packaging. Lacking cGMP compliant facilities and practices, they neglect or fail entirely to maintain batch records, COAs or chain-of-custody practices and have limited ability to address defective product once in the stream of commerce. Let’s refer to these manufacturers as the “Opportunists.

Opportunists see the current cannabinoid gummy market for what it is. It is an emerging market really taking form only since the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp derived cannabinoids. As such it is very much in its “gold rush” phase with many of the participants having just entered the sector. Many participants have adopted ad hoc practices with no standardization and no explicit federal oversight because the FDA has yet to acknowledge any cannabinoids under its generally regarded as safe (GRAS) standard.

FDAlogoIn addition, the FDA has excluded CBD products from the dietary supplement definition of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics (FD&C) Act. Under the FD&C Act, if a substance is an active ingredient in a drug product that has been approved or has been authorized for investigation as a new drug, then products containing said substance are excluded from the definition of dietary supplement. So far cannabinoid gummy demand has continually outstripped supply supporting attractive margins and with little oversight. The Opportunist mindset has focused on maximizing profits while they can before regulation increases costs, compresses margins and reduces profits.

The Opportunists have more cover to seek profit maximization as opposed to incurring the cost of setting up cGMP facilities and adhering to rigorous standards due to the fact that the brands consumers recognize are often manufactured by one or more third-party contract manufacturers. Some brands also want to maximize near-term profits and manufacturers with a lower cost structure can more effectively compete on price as opposed to quality.

As demand surges, some brands will supplement their third-party cGMP produced product with additional product sourced from Opportunists and “recycle” the valid COAs from their cGMP product without the cGMP manufacturer or consumers even knowing. With lax regulatory oversight, these brands are inclined to look the other way on their contract manufacturer’s production practices so long as the large volume orders are delivered on time and at lower cost.

GMPFor gummies produced by Opportunists, if there are product defect issues, the consumers likely won’t be able to rely on the batch record data and purported COAs linked to/from QR codes on the container, many of these COAs have been recycled from legitimate batches or simply doctored up and reproduced rather than generated on a per batch basis. There is limited to no audit trail and recalls are unlikely to be effective, if even initiated. A refund is the most likely solution a consumer has which leaves perhaps a much larger run of defective product in the market still unaddressed. Moreover, brands that suffer reputational harm due to quality issues can simply launch a substitute brand with a similar look through its same distribution channels and maintain much of its market share.

Best Practices

If today’s CBD gold rush sounds much like the Wild West, you would be correct. However, as more consumers become aware of cannabinoids’ health and wellness benefits in addition to the recreational uses, this larger and more diverse consumer base is raising the bar and demanding more transparency and certainty on manufacturing practices than ever before.

americana dummies
A roughly estimated 1.7 billion CBD gummies were produced last year

How are the leading cannabinoid nutraceutical manufacturers proactively addressing consumers’ desire for high quality, rigorously tested products manufactured in accordance with standards already imposed on mainstream nutritional supplement and prepared food manufacturers? Although the answer may be simple, the implementation and ongoing compliance is not.

The answer is voluntary adoption and compliance with the same regulations applicable to non-cannabinoid dietary supplement manufacturers. Given that the FDA has not recognized cannabinoids as dietary supplements quite yet, certain aspects of dietary supplement regulation can’t be adhered to such as notifying the FDA of structure/function claims as new products are brought to market or notice of new dietary ingredients. On the other hand, many of the regulations can and should be adhered to by cannabinoid nutraceutical manufacturers to ensure its safe, transparent orderly growth.

Chief among the FDA requirements that Bloomios and other leading manufacturers adhere to are:

  • Register with the FDA as a food handling and production facility.
  • Adopt Current Good Manufacturing Practices for dietary supplements which establishes uniform standards needed to ensure quality throughout the manufacturing process and verification of the identity, purity, strength and composition of their products.
  • Undertake at least annually an independent third-party cGMP audit of their facility and procedures.
  • Comply with Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR 101.36) supplement label requirements to ensure that the ingredients list is accurate, and the content matches the amount declared on the label among other disclosures.

The most significant challenge in adopting all of the above best practices is cGMP facility qualification and ongoing compliance. The cGMP standards require specific facility build-out features, equipment, and of course standard operating procedures. There are significant additional costs to bring a cGMP facility on-line, additional time and required experienced personnel that can implement the operating procedures and recertification every time a production line’s configuration is changed or augmented with additional equipment.

Bloomios annual cGMP audit was conducted in August and over 130 specific requirements were evaluated and graded. While Bloomios passed the audit and evaluation, what is of far greater significance is that cGMP practices become part of a company’s culture so that these high standards are maintained year-round and not rushed into practice just for the audit.

Innovating Edibles: A Q&A with Coda Signature Co-Founder Lauren Gockley

By Cannabis Industry Journal Staff
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Coda Signature is a leading cannabis edibles company that has won countless awards for their creations. Founded in 2015 in Trinidad, Colorado, a small town just north of the New Mexico border, the women-led company has since become a fixture of the infused products market. Coda Signature prides itself on its innovative lens, focusing on what consumers want and framing their products around a luxury experience.

Lauren Gockley co-founded the brand in 2015 after a 20-year culinary career that started with professional training in France, working in Michelin-starred restaurants and Parisian pastry shops. They launched their first line of products in March of 2016 and three weeks later, the awards started coming in. Today, the company is a leader in the cannabis industry and constantly raising the bar. Last year they rolled out products with nanoemulsions, offering fast-acting edibles with a shortened onset time. In May of this year, Coda Signature debuted their low dose Fruit Notes, their foray into microdose formulations.

We caught up with Lauren Gockley to see what inspires her, hear the story of how the business came to be and get some insights on what’s next for the cannabis space.

Cannabis Industry Journal: I saw that you have a culinary background. Can you tell me about your background and how you got involved in the cannabis industry? 

Lauren Gockley, Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Coda Signature

Lauren Gockley: I have been working in the culinary world for almost 20 years. I have been blessed to have a wealth of different experiences from my professional training in France at Valrhona’s L’Ecole Du Grand Chocolat and the Parisian pastry shops of Pierre Hermé, to the fine dining restaurants of Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Thomas Keller. I also spent several years as a raw vegan chocolatier where I gained a totally new understanding of chocolate and flavor creation using unconventional ingredients.

The transition into cannabis was an unexpected turn in my culinary career, especially considering the level of acceptance of cannabis in its early legalization period. I had been living in New York for almost eight years. I was working two jobs and trying to start a chocolate business. One night, my partner (and fellow co-founder), Brien Sauchelli, brought over a cannabis chocolate bar. At the time, I was not terribly familiar with cannabis edibles, but I sure was familiar with chocolate! I tasted the chocolate bar, and thought, “this tastes pretty good, but what if I could do it better?” The idea of elevating the cannabis edibles experience to the same caliber of excellence that we revere food made so much sense.

CIJ: Tell us how you co-founded and started Coda Signature. I’d like to hear the origin story 

Lauren: Well, like so many cannapreneurs, I started in my kitchen with a crockpot, a Ziploc bag of trim and a massive amount of research. Fast-forward a few months to March 2015, and my partner and I are traveling across the country to Trinidad, Colorado—the new home of Coda Signature. Once unpacked, we dedicated almost a full year to product development, raw material sourcing, packaging design, facility construction, and most importantly we defined the mission, vision and core values of Coda Signature. One of our most significant core values is legacy. This was not meant to be an aspirational statement about the impact we hoped to have many years into the future, but rather an opportunity for us in every moment to ask, “What will my legacy be today?” We launched our first products in March of 2016. Three weeks later, we won the High Times Cannabis Cup for Best Edible with our Crescendo truffle collection.

CIJ: Your job title is Chief Innovation Officer – How is your company innovating the cannabis product space? What does your day-to-day look like?

Lauren: When it comes to innovation, we have identified four key areas of focus for Coda Signature products:

1) Flavor. We are leaning into our brand legacy of bold flavors and aromas, quality ingredients and impeccable craftsmanship. This legacy is reinforced by industry data. According to BDSA Trending Consumer Insights, flavor is the No. 1 driver of consumer purchase decisions, and second is brand loyalty.

2) Microdosing. According to BDSA Consumer Research, 73% of adults nationwide are now “bought in” to consuming cannabis. Understanding that much of this population is still getting acquainted with cannabis-infused products, we believe strongly that microdosed products are an essential factor for safe and customized experiences. We are one of the few infused products companies to defy the industry “standard serving size” with our new 1mg THC Fruit Notes.

3) Minor cannabinoids. We define the Coda experience through the integration of minor cannabinoids such as CBN, CBG, CBC and most recently THCV. This is no longer a market solely driven by milligrams of THC per dollar. Products innovating with minor cannabinoids are rapidly taking top-selling positions in both brand share and the market as a whole.

4) Fast-acting. After two years of intense R&D, Coda launched our first “Fast Acting” products in Q3 of 2021. “Fast Acting” decreases not only the onset time from 1-2 hours to 15-20 minutes, but also shortens the overall duration. This technology is a strong example of the incredible innovation redefining the cannabis edibles experience.

To answer your second question: My day-to-day is a blend of hands-on product creation; ongoing research into industry trends and new technologies; working with my colleagues in operations, quality and compliance to ensure our systems and procedures continue to deliver safe and consistent products; brand development and expansion; and of course, eating a lot of chocolate! The past few weeks have been particularly exciting for me as I have been back in the kitchen revitalizing our signature truffles that will be returning this holiday season.

CIJ: Where do you think cannabis will innovate next? What excites you about the future of product innovation in this market?

Lauren: Innovation in the cannabis industry can be particularly challenging due to the ongoing legalization limitations. However, like most life forms in nature, it is through limitations that we adapt, grow stronger and defy expectations. The fact that 73% of adults nationwide are open to the idea of cannabis means that we are just scratching the surface of innovation with this incredibly powerful plant.

Post-pandemic, I think a lot about our social habits. As a chef, there is a level of social intimacy I identify with food that I feel is not fully present in cannabis. I get very excited about the opportunities for more open cannabis consumption and how that will elevate and inspire the Coda product experience.

The Man Behind MXXN: An Interview with CEO and Founder Darnell Smith

By Aaron Green
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Hangovers are one of the aftereffects often experienced with spirits. Who doesn’t love a good martini or a refreshing margarita? One company is on a mission bring the flavor profile and buzz of spirited drinks without the negative consequences.

Like this article and want to see more? Subscribe to our free newsletter hereMXXN is a California-based cannabis infused beverage manufacturer specializing in 1:1 non-alcoholic replacements for everyone’s favorite spirits, enhanced with a touch of cannabis. By combining new technology in cannabis oil nano emulsions and alt-alcohol, MXXN is able to create flavor matching spirits sold by the 750 mL bottle. MXXN recently launched with three product SKUs including London Dry (gin), Jalisco Agave (tequila) and Kentucky Oak (bourbon) with a rum replacement due to launch soon.

We caught up with Darnell Smith, founder & CEO of MXXN, to ask about the technology going into infused non-alcoholic spirits, regulatory challenges and more. Prior to MXXN, Darnell was a spirits industry veteran, having worked with companies including Diageo, Pernod-Ricard and Bacardi.

Aaron Green: Darnell, nice to meet you. How did you get involved in the cannabis industry?

Darnell Smith: For me, it wasn’t something that was premeditated, in a sense. I had always been a cannabis user in my adult life. I played Division I sports. Cannabis replaced a lot of painkillers and medications that I probably would have had to take just to cope with athletic injuries. That’s how I got introduced to cannabis. And there is the recreational use of it as well.

Darnell Smith, Founder & CEO of MXXN

To get to the origin story of MXXN, I spent a large part of my career working in spirits, namely, on the innovation and commercialization side of bringing new products to market under very well-known trademarks for large multinational companies. A few years into it, my liver was kind of at a point where it was like, “It’s gonna be you or me here, buddy.” So, I made the decision to start making – this is 15 years ago, in New York – a tincture where I would just heat up flower and decarb it and soak it in a high proof spirit. I would cover it for 30 days then strain it and have my tincture.

I’d be the guy in the bar, that would say “Hey, can I get a tonic and lime?” and I would put three drops of my tincture in there, and I would session cocktails along with everyone else. Next day at work, I’m the guy that’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and everyone else is kind of feeling a little bit weathered by that alcohol.

Innovation is usually born out of a personal need and that’s the same way here. So, fast forward 15 years and the technology has finally caught up. The rise of non-alcoholic spirits, the rise of cannabis and water-soluble emulsification, those two things combined really made the light bulb go off and say now is the time to offer this product. I feel like MXXN has a very specific place in our consumption of beverages and can fill a unique need that I think is rising.

Green: I’m interested in learning about the technology and the product. We can start with the technology that went into the product development process. I’ll go on to product next.

Smith: From a technical standpoint, up until a few years ago, the way that edibles were made was basically like raw extraction. There was very little ability to be precise about dosage. It was like trying to throw softballs through a chain-link fence. Non-uniformity made it very hard to say, “Here’s how this is going to affect you.” Fast forward and companies like Vertosa and Source have perfected this kind of nano-emulsion technology, which is basically water-suspended cannabis that can uniformly be used in food, beverage and cosmetic applications. And it’s akin to trying to throw sand through a chain-link fence. It’s just much smaller. It can remain more uniform, and thereby be more predictable in terms of dosage and effect.

The MXXN London Dry

So, that technology made it possible for us to then combine it with another wave that’s happening, which in the spirits industry is called alt-alcohol. What we do is distill all the flavor essences of well-known spirits and skip the alcohol. We then add the emulsified cannabis in place of the alcohol. And so with that, we offer a new kind of experience which is basically all the buzz but none of the booze. That’s really where technology-wise things have evolved. The rise of the non-alcoholic spirits and then the rise of being able to do water-soluble compatible cannabinoid emulsions.

Green: Are you selling this then as packaged goods or are you selling it as bladders similar to Coca-Cola in a bar setting?

Smith: This is a CPG packaged product and it really is analogous to a 750 ML spirits bottle similar to Tito’s or Grey Goose. The form factor is the same as spirits bottles, same 750 ML bottle. It doses just like a spirit would. Standard spirit pour is an ounce and a half. For us, an ounce and a half shot has six milligrams of THC.

For the average consumer, you can session cocktails and we give you the option to dose between two and six milligrams between a half ounce and an ounce and a half pour. So, it’s very analogous to what people are experienced in when it comes to spirits from the bottle to the dosage and to the actual recipes. We pride ourselves on being able to demystify something that has been a little bit complex in terms of making cannabis-infused cocktails. We are sticking close to what people are familiar with. People have a lot of experience with tequila or gin or bourbon and so we wanted to stay very familiar but also give people a chance to make the same recipes but sans alcohol.

Green: What kind of flavor profiles are you launching with?

Smith: We’re launching with three SKUs. Our first is London Dry, which is our take on a gin and that one has cucumber, juniper, coriander, and a nice peppery finish. We have Jalisco Agave, which is our take on a tequila or Mezcal. You have notes of agave, flint, salt, oak, and vanilla. And then the last one is Kentucky Oak, which is our version of a bourbon or whiskey. There you have charred oak, vanilla, and other flavor components that make up what bourbon is.

The MXXN Kentucky Oak

Now we have a rum in development that’s nearing the end of a robust R&D pipeline. We have some other options like ready-to-drink cocktails made with MXXN to more high-dose products for what we consider the “legacy consumer” who is maybe more medically inclined in the hopes of being able to give people more options when it comes to consumption of flavored spirits.

Green: On the cannabis side, with the infusions that you’re doing, is it pure THC or are you doing full spectrum?

Smith: Yes, full-spectrum cannabinoid. You’ll notice some beverage brands have what we consider a hybrid, some THC and some CBD. For us, and for the effects that we wanted to have the product to have we stuck with a THC-forward blend. There is a trace of CBD in there, but we don’t even claim it. It’s not something that we go forward with. Our emulsion is THC-based.

Green: Where are you at today in terms of the launch and presence?

Smith: We just finished a pilot test here in California. We started late-January, early-February and we’ve been selling direct-to-consumer. Just order and you can have it at your door in 24 hours for about 85% of the state. We’ve blown through our entire pilot run. Now we are entering into what we consider our launch phase which will be available in select retailers late-July. We are gearing up for our next big production run here in mid-July. We are basically all systems go.

At the same time, we’re exploring multi-state expansion. We have a lot of interest in states like Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and we’re having constant conversations with partners in those states to help bring the product to market.

Green: Have you looked at lounges?

Smith: Lounges have been our biggest traction as we start the retail rollout. We literally just started the dispensary piece of what we’re doing last month. And this is by design. First, we wanted to go direct-to-consumers for proof of concept to make sure we weren’t, you know, saying the story to ourselves. I think just by the performance of the pilot run and direct-to-consumer sales, we proved okay, this is a viable concept.

MXXN’s Jalisco Agave

So as we go out, our number one targets are obviously establishments that also are connected to or have connections with a consumption lounge. There aren’t a ton at this point. They’re still kind of proliferating. But I will tell you the moment we walk into one of these accounts is like a no-brainer because it allows this account to offer a whole new experience. When it comes to consumption lounges in terms of great cocktails you already know: gin and tonics, margaritas, paloma, with no real education required on the part of who’s ever going to be serving. We basically take 20 retailers a month in chunks and so far of the 15-20 that we’ve done, four or five of them have consumption lounges and you’ll see it in those very soon.

Green: Are there any challenges there with dosing in a lounge where the onus is on the operator to dose? How do the regulations work there?

Smith: It’s similar to alcohol, right? As an establishment, you have a responsibility to kind of pay attention to what’s happening as the consumer is consuming. Typically, most of the legislation that was written is for an inhaled consumption lounge. Ingestibles weren’t necessarily considered heavily when it came to legislation. What we tell folks is you have the same responsibilities you would if you were a bartender. Our recommended pour in consumption lounges is a lighter dose. This way, the customer has a chance to start low and go slow, and really recognize how it’s going to affect them.

Legally, there is no firm guidance on what overconsumption looks like for the typical consumer. So, we tell folks you have to kind of get a feel for who the consumer is. If they’re curious person who doesn’t have a lot of experience with cannabis, we typically recommend not to exceed a five-milligram serve per sitting until you figure out how it’s going to affect them. However, if you have very high dose legacy consumers, who buy and drink these 100-milligram single-serve bottles it’s a different story. You kind of need to gauge that from consumer to consumer, and what their tolerance level is. A lot of onus is on the consumption lounge. And I think that’s why they’ve kind of been slow to really roll out how they deal with beverages, because it’s just a different beast. It’s absorbed differently by the body from inhalable products

Green: What trends are you looking at in the industry?

Smith: I love seeing more food-based options. Edibles to this point have been mostly candies and gummies and I see the trend going to more high-end, curated food selections. I think that’s super interesting. The condiments that go into cooking is a category that I’m keeping an eye on. I came across a THC and CBD-infused Siracha sauce the other day and I was like, “wow, this is fantastic!”

MXXN logo

In the beverage space, there continues to be innovation, which we are on the forefront of. There’s a point of saturation that’s going to come for how many seltzers can exist in the market at the same time. And I think we’re kind of reaching that point. So, it’s going to be incumbent upon the beverage space to continue to innovate.

I’m also watching where things go with hemp-derived THC, the Delta-8s and those things and how is that going to be dealt with when it comes to the legal market. I think you see varying ways that it’s being dealt with across states. That’s a trend I’m certainly keeping an eye on as things continue to roll out across the country.

Green: What, in your personal life or in cannabis are you most interested in learning about?

Smith: Given where the world is today, I feel like we all live in this “OR” mindset. It’s either you OR me, it’s either this OR that. And I think you can see with some of the more recent political things that have happened, it’s this ideology of like, trying to force your beliefs on someone else. For me, it’s more about like, how can we learn to live more in the “AND” right? You can have this AND this and they can coexist, and they don’t have to be in competition. In my personal life, that’s where a lot of my energy is going. How do I spread that thought of getting out of this living in OR. We must move to this kind of mindset of AND. How can we be accommodating for a bunch of different beliefs, a bunch of different approaches? It causes so much friction when we try to impose beliefs on others that may not share the same beliefs.

I am thinking about how I can apply that to the cannabis industry as well. In terms of federal legalization versus state, where can we find that the happy ground? If we think about going across state lines, that’s effectively building a whole other business in the state, and in virtually no other industry does that exist. I can tell you economically this country could use infusion of cannabis to be more freely available. So those are the types of things that keep me moving these days. I’ve had a lot of success in my past and so for me, it’s less about financial achievements, and it’s more about how we can help move folks to this is AND mentality and not everything has to be OR.

Green: Great. That concludes the interview.

2022 Infused Products Virtual Conference: June Program

By Cannabis Industry Journal Staff
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2022 Infused Products Virtual Conference: June Program

Sponsored by Millipore Sigma, Berlin Packaging and Cannabis Safety & Quality (CSQ)

Click here to watch the recording

Agenda

Elevating Edibles: Defining the Next Cannabis Experience
Sam Rose, Director of Operations, Herve

Attendees will learn during this session:

  • Luxury edibles and form factor: Moving away from get high first and think about what you’re consuming second, a pivot from sugar filled, bad tasting edibles to delicious and refined ingredients. Non-juvenile form factors, healthier options, efficacy
  • Concentrates and infusion: Providing the consumer with the right high using the right ratios and concentrates. Bioavailability, highlighting the plant, absorption method (sublingual)
  • Giving the consumer what they NEED not what they WANT: We’re at a fragile point in time where people are either trying cannabis for the first time or experimenting with it again for the first time in a long time. We need to make sure these people have a good experience and not scare them away. High MG edibles and high % Flower is not the way to do this – the how high for cheap model is really toxic for the industry. We need to educate, we need to provide clean low dose edibles and more curated flower.

TechTalk: Millipore Sigma

Dr. Sunil P. Badal, Senior Scientist, Innovations/Advanced Analytical R&D, MilliporeSigma

Cannabis Beverages: The Rise of a New Market & a New Consumer
Christiane Campbell, Partner, Duane Morris, LLP

Attendees will learn during this session:

  • The current landscape and regulatory red tape surrounding cannabis beverage brands
  • Selecting and adopting a cannabis beverage brand
  • Protecting a cannabis beverage brand

TechTalk: Berlin Packaging

Julie Saltzman, Director of Cannabis Business Development, Berlin Packaging

One Symbol to Rule Them All! Harmonization is Finally Here!
Darwin Millard, Owner & Founder, TSOC LLC, ASTM Subcommittee Co-Chair

A picture is worth 1000 words, but with a hogbog of “universal” symbols, is something getting lost in translation? ASTM International’s new standard, ASTM D8441/8441M, Specification for an International Symbol for Identifying Consumer Products Containing Intoxicating Cannabinoids, serves to establish a truly harmonized international warning symbol. Learn about the significance and use of this all-important standard from one of the members of ASTM Committee D37 on Cannabis who helped developed it.

TechTalk: Cannabis Safety & Quality (CSQ)

Tyler Williams, Founder & CTO, Cannabis Safety & Quality (CSQ)

Evaluating the Safety of CBD – Data Needs
Dr. Steven Gendel, Principal & Advisor, Gendel Food Safety, LLC

Attendees will learn during this session:

  • Understanding how regulatory agencies think about safety for the ingredients in edibles
  • What we can learn from the EFSA data call
  • What is a realistic time frame for the process

Click here to watch the recording

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Canopy Growth Acquires Jetty Extracts

By Cannabis Industry Journal Staff
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Canopy Growth Corporation, one of the largest cannabis companies in the world, announced the acquisition of Jetty Extracts this week for $69 million. Jetty Extracts was founded in 2013 and is now a leading cannabis brand in California and a top 5 brand in the vape category. The two companies plan to expand Jetty’s offerings in California, Colorado, New York and across the broder to Canada, according to a press release.

Canadian-based Canopy Growth is a massive international company that has been expanding its presence well beyond Canadian borders. For years now. Their medical arm, Spectrum Therapeutics, is a leading brand in Canada and Germany.

Some of the Jetty Extracts product offerings

Back in 2018, Canopy solidified a partnership and took considerable investment from Constellation Brands on a long-term play to enter the cannabis beverage market. Then in 2019, they began their aggressive expansion into the U.S. through the multi-billion-dollar deal with Acreage Holdings who, at the time, was the largest U.S. cannabis company. In April of last year, they inked a deal with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits following the launch of their first CBD-infused beverage line sold in the United States, Quatreau.

Late last year Canopy Growth announced a deal to acquire Wana Brands, the number one cannabis edibles brand based on market share in North America. The latest acquisition of Jetty Extracts this week follows the same pattern of increasing their North American footprint in the cannabis market considerably.

David Klein, CEO of Canopy Growth, says the cross-border potential excites them. “”Canopy Growth is building a house of premium cannabis brands with a focus on the core growth categories that will power the market’s path forward, now including Jetty – a pioneer of solventless vapes,” says Klein. “There are significant opportunities for Jetty to scale at the state-level across the U.S. by leveraging Canopy’s U.S. ecosystem, and we’re actively working on plans to bring the brand to the Canadian recreational market.”

The Rise of a New Market… And a New Consumer

By Christiane Campbell
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The adult beverage industry, like any other category of consumer branded products, is driven by trends. If you’re old enough to remember Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers, you probably also remember Zima and Smirnoff Ice, and more recently “healthy” options like Skinny Girl and Michelob Ultra. The sensation that was craft beer saw many brands being acquired by Big Alcohol so that while the brands remain, ownership and production have changed significantly. Gin, tequila and vodka have had their moments in the sun and the current market is undeniably saturated with what is probably the largest current trend – hard seltzers. However, with the seltzer craze waning, many are wondering what’s next. And with the growing sober/California sober trends, some are betting it is cannabis-infused beverages.

Cannabis-infused beverages offer both an alternative method of consumption of cannabis and are also an attractive alternative to alcohol. Infused beverages are more appealing to the new demographic of casually curious cannabis consumers. i.e., consumers that may not be interested in smoking a joint or vaping, but are comfortable micro-dosing from a can or bottle, as they would a seltzer or beer. The same type of consumer may be moving away from alcohol consumption to eliminate hangovers or other negative health effects.

The emerging market and curious consumer group present an enormous opportunity right now for cannabis-infused beverage brands. Of course, with opportunity and growth come challenges. And while cannabis-infused beverages face a host of legal and regulatory challenges relative to sourcing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, shipping, marketing, distribution and sale, one of the most critically important business assets to address at inception is the brand.

Lines are Blurring, Gaps are Being Bridged

The U.S. cannabis market is currently a geographic hamburger. Hear me out: Geographically, you have a relatively mature market out west and a relatively new and growing market along the east coast. These are the buns. You have a mixed bag in between, with some states coming online and allowing medical or adult use cannabis use and others that have not yet embraced any form of legalization. The landscape has lent itself to the development of regional brands, such that brands that are so similar they might otherwise confuse consumers, have been able to co-exist in different regions without issue, or because there is little to no trade channel or market overlap. Similarly, adult beverages and cannabis have historically been separate verticals, with an arguably low likelihood that a consumer would assume a particular cannabis product and adult beverage product emanate from the same source.

A drink additive, made by Splash Nano, that uses nano emulsion technology

However, lines are blurring and gaps are being bridged. Walls are breaking down. The increasing number of states coming online with legalized cannabis, and the proliferation of multi-state operators (MSOs), means that cannabis brands can grow to be more than siloed regional brands. This will inevitably lead to brands that previously co-existed bumping into one another and there’s bound to be some pushing and shoving. The advent of infused beverages likewise bridges the gap between cannabis products and alcoholic beverages. While the respective industries were not historically per se related, competing, or overlapping, now you’ve got infused beverages that bridge the gap between the two, and traditional alcohol brands (e.g., Boston Beer Company, Molson Coors, Lagunitas, Pabst.) entering the market (albeit under different brands). This makes a strong argument that cannabis and alcohol (or, more generally, adult beverages) are within each other’s logical zones of expansion, for purposes of a likelihood of confusion analysis.

The growing pains infused beverage brands will experience are analogous to those craft beers saw in the 2000 – 2010s. Many craft brewers had catchy, cheeky names and brands that contributed to their ability to engage consumers and develop a following, but failure to clear and protect the brands prior to launch detracted from the brands’ market values. Localized use prior to expansion also led to many brands bumping into one another and stepping on each other’s trademark toes. This was significant as the brands sought investment dollars or an exit strategy, making clear that the brand itself contributed heavily to valuation.

Mitigating Risks and Overcoming Challenges: Search and Protect 

The risks and challenges can be significantly mitigated and/or overcome with proper preliminary clearance searching and assessments, and by seeking and obtaining state or federal protection for the brand or brands, to the extent possible.

Quatreau CBD infused sparkling water

Of course, clearance searches and assessments come with their own challenges, as does federal protection. With respect to clearance searches, these typically look at U.S. federal and state trademark databases. These resources are not sufficient for purposes of clearing a proposed cannabis brand. Many brands are not recorded at the federal or state level and indeed may not even show up in a basic search engine. An appropriate search looks at social media resources like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and known cannabis resources like Leafly and Weedmaps. Additionally, the scope of the search should exceed cannabis products and services and at least look at alcohol and merchandise. Adoption and use of a brand for a cannabis-infused beverage is high risk if that brand is similar to a prior existing alcohol brand. A current example is Cointreau’s taking aim at Canopy’s adoption and use of QUATREAU for an infused beverage.

A U.S. federal trademark registration presents its own unique challenges, but is incredibly valuable and beneficial to a brand since it provides the owner with a nationwide presumption of ownership and validity in a trademark, and can also secure priority for the owner with a constructive first use in commerce date that is years before actual use of a mark begins. The U.S. Trademark Office categorically denies protection of brands that violate its “lawful use” rule, and will treat as per se unlawful any applied for mark that covers marijuana, or that covers foods, beverages or pharmaceuticals that contain CBD. With respect to brands that cover products containing THC, since it is federally scheduled, use of the brand would violate the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). With respect to brands that cover CBD or products containing CBD, these may be lawful pursuant to the Farm Bill and the U.S. Trademark Office’s subsequent allowance of marks that claim CBD “solely derived from hemp with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis,” however under the Food Drug Cosmetics Act (FDCA) it is currently federally unlawful to introduce CBD – even if it fits the definition above – into foods or beverages.

Even if cannabis is not specifically claimed in a trademark application, cannabis brands have a natural gravitation toward names and logos that can do some of their marketing for them, and announce to the world they cover cannabis. This increases the chances that a trademark application for the brand will get push-back from the U.S. Trademark Office, and if not at the initial review stage, then at the point in time when the brand must submit to the U.S. Trademark Office a sample of (lawful) use of the applied-for mark. While this all sounds like bad news for cannabis-infused beverages, all is not lost.

There are typically ancillary and federally lawful products and services cannabis companies offer under their brands that can be covered in a U.S. federal trademark application, and arguments to be made that registered protection of a brand for the ancillary items should be sufficient to enforce against third parties using the same or confusingly similar brands in their space. Some cannabis brands’ lawful ancillary products are actually product lines (e.g., beverages) offered under the same brand that contain no cannabis. Others may be more causally related, like online forums and blogs. The former is closer to the actual product, and the latter would be more beneficial to a brand that is inherently stronger and more distinctive. One note of caution: A trademark application and eventual registration that expressly disclaim cannabis (THC or CBD) may be difficult to enforce against a third party using the same or a similar mark on and in connection with cannabis. So, while there is a natural inclination to follow a U.S. Trademark Office request to disclaim coverage of cannabis, there may be enforcement consequences down the road.

The cannabis-infused beverage market is poised for explosive growth. The brands that survive – and succeed – will be those that position themselves for growth by clearing and buttoning up their brands as early as possible. The market leaders will be those that select strong and distinctive brands, with geographic and market space around them for growth and expansion; and those that protect and enforce their brands, to the extent possible, at the federal and/or state levels.

A Toast to Cannabis Beverages, a Growing Market Segment

By Michael Bronstein, Seth A. Goldberg
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Even if you dont know much about cannabis pop culture, people are probably familiar with the phrase, “puff, puff, pass.”But what if the future of cannabis is really more like sip, sip, sip? Thats what has everyone from the largest cannabis companies to the most mainstream beverage companies buzzing.

Soft drinks, beer, juice, tea, coffee and bottled waters are major categories of the beverage industry, valued at approximately $1.5 trillion globally and $150 billion in the U.S. Its no secret beverage companies have long eyed the next big growth opportunity in the cannabis market. Beverage makers, large and small, are now experimenting ‒ some even bringing to market ‒ cannabis-infused drinks in each of these categories.

Pepsi Co. created a hemp-infused energy drink; Canopy Growth introduced a top selling CBD drink, Quatreau, and the company is backed by beverage industry leader Constellation Brands. Meanwhile, Molson Coors revealed a cannabis-infused beverage line with Truss, and Boston Beer developed cannabis-infused beverages in Canada. Jones Soda recently announced its launch of a line of cannabis-infused sodas under the name Mary Jones. These are just a few of the major beverage industry names adding cannabis drinks to their product lines.

Thats not to mention the established cannabis beverage brands and market leaders such as BellRock Brands, Keef, Evergreen Herbal, CannaCraft and CANN, or infusion technologies companies like Vertosa and mainstream beverage packagers such as Zukerman Honickman.

Quatreau CBD infused sparkling water

When will you be able to go to a bar, restaurant, concert venue or lounge and drink your cannabis? Maybe sooner than you think.

Right now, several states are formulating plans to launch adult-use markets, with New York and New Jersey figuring prominently. And with more mature state markets contemplating venues such as lounges, many are pushing for expanded access to beverages. Internationally, Canadian regulators have taken notice of the segment and recently issued regulations on cannabis beverages.

Its the mainstreaming of cannabis.

Companies are betting big that consumers who choose not to consume cannabis because of perceived social stigmas or fear of getting too high” from highly concentrated THC products, or who simply dont want to smoke or vape a product, can find an alternative in cannabis beverages. Cannabis beverages offer consumers an option to microdose and are often more socially acceptable and user-friendly ways to consume cannabis.

It makes sense given larger trends. Consumers who are health-conscious are less likely to smoke anything, let alone cannabis, and are looking for alternatives in their lifestyle choices ‒ and for a relatable product experience that doesnt ruin the next day.

Think of it this way: Cannabis beverages are to high-THC cannabis products such as vapes, butter and shatter what beer and wine are to high-proof alcohol products such as tequila, vodka and gin. Consequently, just as the lower alcohol content of beer and wine makes those drinks more appealing to more people for more situations, cannabis drinks can reach a larger consumer base than traditional cannabis products.

However, for cannabis beverages to meet their growth potential, a number of things need to happen according to industry experts.

The Veryvell beverage product line

First is the harmonization of state requirements on labeling, testing and packaging and the regulatory acceptance of beverages as a form factor play a role. If regulations are not harmonized, it will impact the cannabis beverage companies’ ability to scale. Second, cannabis beverages need their own separate regulations. Too often, cannabis beverages are shoe-horned into edibles when they are different and distinct product offerings. Third, opportunities for on-site consumption are critical to mainstreaming cannabis beverages.

And, cannabis is still federally illegal. Therefore, many beverage giants are approaching and entering the industry cautiously. Alcohol companies have largely been quicker to jump into the fray than traditional, nonalcoholic beverage brands. It is illegal to combine alcohol and cannabis in the United States, however, so the cannabis-infused market consists of water-based drinks.

Due to national prohibition, beverage companies bringing cannabis into their portfolio are largely operating under state-by-state laws and a varied regulatory environment – catering to states with adult-use cannabis programs. This patchwork of regulation impacts business operations from advertising and marketing to packaging, labeling and even dosing instructions. For most companies, the cost of doing business increases in this operating environment as laws vary across state lines.

happie cannabis infused beverages

When federal prohibition ends, a policy priority for the industry and regulators will be to reconcile the regulatory environments and state-by-state differences. Were also likely to see the industry come together and advocate for responsible consumption, standard policies and best practices. Expect massive public service campaigns and industry and trade groups coming together to educate the public and policymakers on smart, responsible use of infused cannabis beverages.

Todays federal cannabis prohibition is also why some manufacturers are embracing CBD-only drinks. Sales of CBD drinks (federally legal as they are derived from hemp versus the psychoactive component of THC) are expected to hit $2.5 billion and are available in places where cannabis is not legal yet.

Meanwhile, THC-infused beverages will account for $1 billion in U.S. sales by 2025, according to Brightfield Group. While not a huge part of the pie in relation to the $24 billion cannabis industry, cannabis infused beverages are one of the fastest growing segments.

So dont be surprised if sometime soon you see a cannabis drink for sale. Companies are betting big and it might just be time to imbibe.

2022 Infused Products Virtual Conference: February Program

By Cannabis Industry Journal Staff
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2022 Infused Products Virtual Conference: February Program

Sponsored by Columbia Laboratories

Click here to watch the recording

Agenda

cGMP Certification: What it is, Can you get it, and What does it take

  • Kim Stuck, Founder & CEO, Allay Consulting

Kim Stuck, a former cannabis regulator for Denver Department of Public Health and Environment now turned compliance consultant for the cannabis industry will be sharing her experiences and discussing quality assurance in cannabis when it comes to cGMP Certification. She will be explaining what cGMP is and:

  • How it fits in the cannabis industry
  • What the steps are to gaining cGMP Certification
  • Tips on how to be successful in the certification process.

TechTalk: Columbia Laboratories

  • Jessa Youngblood, Food & Beverage Market Coordinator II, Hardy Diagnostics

From Idea to Product: How to Launch an Edible 

  • Katherine Knowlton, Founder, Happy Chance
  • Kalon Baird, Founder & COO, Splash Nano

Learn everything you need to know about launching an edible product from two experts currently doing just that. Attendees learn about finding a niche, quality, the supply chain and the retail ecosystem.

Food Safety for Infused Edibles

  • Steven Gendel, Ph.D., Gendel Food Safety

This presentation takes a deep dive into current regulatory programs, why standardization is crucial, the importance of food safety in edibles, the importance of the ingredient supply chain and some shortcomings in current regulations.

Why Are Infuser Licenses Tricky?

  • Sumer Thomas, Director of Regulatory Operations, Canna Advisors
  • Brian Harris, Project Manager, Canna Advisors

Attendees of this session will learn:

  • Learn how being in the middle of the supply chain complicates everything
  • What is different about capital requirements
  • How team member requirements are make-or-break for your success

Click here to watch the recording

Leaders in Cannabis Formulations: Part 5

By Aaron Green
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Natural cannabinoid distillates and isolates are hydrophobic oils and solids, meaning that they do not mix well with water and are poorly absorbed in the human body after consumption. Cannabinoid oils can be formulated into emulsions to form a fine suspension in water to modulate bioavailability, stability and flavor.

Happy Chance is a cannabis infused products company offering better-for-you products to their customers. Happy Chance recently launched a low-glycemic index fruit bite line made from fresh ingredients, distinguishing them from traditional gummies. Splash Nano is a cannabis infused products ingredients company specializing in nano emulsions. Happy Chance utilizes Splash Nano technology in their fruit bites formulations.

We spoke with Katherine Knowlton, founder of Happy Chance, and Kalon Baird, co-founder and CTO of Splash Nano to learn more about their products and how they came to do business together. Prior to Happy Chance, Knowlton worked as a chef. Prior to Splash Nano, Baird was a consultant to the cannabis industry.

Aaron Green: Katherine, how did you get involved in the cannabis industry?

Katherine Knowlton, Founder of Happy Chance

Katherine Knowlton: I am a chef by trade. I went to culinary school in 2015. My partner also got into the cannabis space in 2017, which was right around the time when adult use cannabis became legal in California. As a chef, I am very passionate about cooking for optimal health and well-being. I noticed right away the abundance of candy- and sugar-laden products on the market. I set out to create a wellness driven product blending healthy, whole foods with a better value proposition, better-for-you and better-for-the-planet.

Green: Okay, great. Kalon, same question: how did you get involved in the cannabis industry?

Kalon Baird: I left a corporate job in 2011 and started cultivating in Southern California. I started to develop techniques for horticulture and developed a connection with the plant. I was a consultant for many years, and then decided to take a different path when legalization happened and got into the regulated manufacturing space. My goal was to bring new products to market to help satiate the demand for the infused category, the non-smokeable categories and to pursue niche product development.

Green: Tell me about your recent product development interests?

Kalon Baird, Co-Founder and CTO of Splash Nano

Baird: We’re interested in the research that comes out regarding cannabis minor constituents. We work with other research labs doing two-dimensional chromatography. We’re trying to figure out what compounds exist in the plant that aren’t just the major cannabinoids, and how to work with them in a pharmacological context so that they can be standardized and replicated at scale.

So, it’s not just about making a sugary THC gummy, it’s about seeing what minor cannabinoids, what minor terpenoids and what other unknown compounds can we explore, and then put back into products.

Green: That’s 2D GC-mass spec?

Baird: Yeah, it’s GC-by-GC and tandem mass spec. There are only a couple people that make that piece of equipment. The lab that we work with on that project is called Veda scientific. They’re one of the only people in the cannabis space that uses that machine. And they’re right in our backyard. The tech enables us to further quantify terpene profiles and helps to differentiate our products.

Green: I’d like to focus first on the Splash Nano technology and then we’ll dig into how you got to know each other, and then we’ll finish off with learning more about Happy Chance. So Kalon, tell me more about Splash Nano.

Baird: We employ nano emulsion technology. It’s essentially the science of making oil and water compatible and suspended in a way that reduces droplet size. With nano emulsions, you create an interfacial layer that enhances absorption and solves technical problems like being able to make cannabis oil compatible in water-based matrices, and sometimes in non-water-based matrices. The idea is that as we spread out the particles and as we change attributes of how they’re coated, they’re more bioavailable, and you get a more consistent and faster onset experience like you would in the pharmaceutical or alcohol industry. It’s bringing the industry standard up to the consumer package level and the pharmaceutical level, so that people aren’t waiting the typical hour-long timeframe to absorb that first dose.

Green: Tell me about your business model.

Baird: When we started out in 2018, we were going for a manufacturing license. In the meantime, we saw the drink category evolving and we wanted to be a part of that conversation in that ecosystem. We started developing our own nano emulsions that we knew would be useful when we got our license. We knew that we would sell the base material to co-packers who would put them into beverages. We didn’t want to co-pack the beverages ourselves. So, we developed a drink additive that was our proof of concept that had legs for the technology so that we could show people how to use it. That proof of concept spun off and became its own product and now it’s in the market under the brand name Splash Nano and comes in four distinct product SKUS using minor cannabinoids as differentiators.

The Splash Nano drink additive

Meanwhile, our bread-and-butter business was working with smaller brands, like Happy Chance that needed a path to market but couldn’t get the license or couldn’t go through that whole rigmarole of a two-year waiting period and a half a million dollars and all the other stuff. So, we started taking on all these smaller brands effectively licensing their brand IP and their ideas. In the process, we ended up learning a ton about product development and it became kind of a passion.

We have three core revenue streams. One of them is contract manufacturing, or private labeling. The other one is our own product Splash Nano which is a drink additive. And then the last is we open sourced the technology and sell that as a business-to-business platform so that people can infuse their own products with our fast-acting emulsions. We’re working on a licensing model that will allow other states to create that same consistency, where we send a black box model out to them, and then they infuse the cannabis and then turn that into a product.

Green: Moving on to Katherine here. Tell me about Happy Chance, and how you came up with the brand concept and the product idea.

Knowlton: Going back to what I touched on earlier, many traditional edibles in the space are brownies, cookies and candy type of products that do not contribute to wellness. I wanted to give the wellness driven consumer an option in cannabis. I wanted to create a powerhouse edible that was not only functional and complete but that elevated the consumer’s experience as a whole because of the ingredients we choose and the whole cannabis we source.

Some of the Happy Chance fruit bites

I’m someone who values better-for-you products that contribute to optimal health and well-being. So, I set out to make something. I didn’t really know what I wanted to make in the beginning. I bought a dehydrator and a food processor, and I started messing around with different applications in my kitchen. Over 100 variations later, the fruit bite was born.

The fruit bite is made with dates – a natural sugar that delivers nutritional power: a low glycemic index and high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A sweet you can feel great about. And we use pumpkin seeds which have a lot of great protein. We are working with a company in California that takes imperfect fruits and vegetables and upcycles that back into the food supply chain. We utilize the whole fruits and vegetables as a dried intermediate, capturing all the flavor of nutrients. No added natural flavors and nothing from concentrate.

Green: How does the consistency differ from a gummy?

Knowlton: The consistency is similar to a Lara bar or an Rx bar. Essentially, it’s that same consistency in a bite form and so it’s very different than a gummy. It’s a low dose, low sugar alternative to the modern-day gummy.

Green: So, you’ve got this healthy concept for the fruit bite. You’re looking at suppliers and technologies to infuse the product. How did you finally decide on Splash Nano?

Knowlton: I watched my partner lose his company a few years ago to a larger vertically integrated company. The MSO promised the moon and the stars, and they got lost in the weeds of their eco-system, ultimately losing their company. That said, I was very sensitive when I first started on this journey. I even took on my own partners who didn’t work out either. I spoke with a lot of manufacturers in the selection process. Splash Nano was the tenth manufacturer I spoke with.

It was a very organic way of meeting. I am also based in Santa Barbara where Splash Nano is located. My partner’s brother shared an office space with Kalon, so we met through that connection. I learned right away that Splash was founded on wellness, much like Happy Chance. It was important to source clean cannabis, an aspect that Kalon and his team take pride in. We quickly discovered that Kalon’s Splash Nano technology was going to work in my product. Happy Chance immediately found a home, and it has been an organic evolution of realistic business and friendship.

Green: Kalon, I’d love to get your perspective as well. How do you think about partnering with brands?

Baird: Because of our contract manufacturing experience, we’ve been able to touch approximately 50 brands over our three-year tenure in this space. We’ve seen kind of everything from the multi-state operator to the owner-operator and everything in between. I developed a passion for working with these smaller brands for a lot of different reasons. This industry is built on the success of small mom and pops. Yes, the multi-state operators do have a place and they absolutely add a lot of value. But at the same time, they have their own natural challenges. You have essentially a culture of employees versus a business owner that’s making a lot of their own decisions.

There are advantages to somebody like Katherine, who’s in the trenches of business, and understands the ebbs and flows and ups and downs of this industry and be able to get through some of those challenges a lot more organically and a lot more sustainably. Katherine has such a deep pulse on her business and on her customer and on her own money. She tends to make a lot more calculated decisions, and I really appreciate that.

There’s a lot of waste that gets accumulated in this industry through packaging, through bad decisions, and over extensions of capital. It’s sad to watch and you see these people that have great potential, but it’s kind of lost in this sort of the framework of a large organization. Again, I like multi-state operators, they’re great. There’s nothing wrong with them, but it’s just a different flavor. I’m trying to highlight the fact that working with somebody that has a pulse on her business, and the passion for what she’s doing is wonderful. It’s not just about making money; it’s about adding value.

Green: Katherine, talk to me about sustainability and how you’ve woven that into your product.

Knowlton: We’re dedicated to supporting Product, People and Planet. That’s the whole mission and ethos of Happy Chance. As a chef, I wanted to be intentional about where our ingredients come from. We only source organic and upcycled ingredients – an essential recipe in sustaining a healthy, eco-friendly plant. Intention and integrity are always at the forefront of our products. We prioritize partnering with more transparent supply chains. We want to show the world how cannabis can promote positive lifestyle changes that support living more actively and consciously.

To reiterate, we are also not using anything from concentrate. We are using the entire strawberry, the entire blueberry and so it encapsulates all the flavor and all the nutrition that you would have from a fresh fruit into our products.

Green: How do you think about sustainability in product packaging?

Knowlton: As far as packaging goes in this industry, we’re very limited in what we can do. Compostable packaging isn’t really available, but we have partnered with a packaging company that definitely has mindfulness at the core of their mission. They have established their entire supply chain to ensure they are focusing on green practices and reducing waste each step of the way. Their energy efficient machinery creates a zero-waste manufacturing process to reduce their carbon footprint and they utilize soy and vegan inks to help reduce air pollution by minimizing toxic emissions in the air. My hope for the industry is that as it continues to evolve, we can become less wasteful as far as packaging goes.

Green: Rapid fire questions for both of you: What trends are you following in the industry right now?

Knowlton: As a chef and coming from the CPG world, I’m passionate about health and wellness. I think that it’s important to stay on trend with what we’re seeing in CPG. There’s definitely a market as far as people wanting these better-for-you products. I want to bring that into the cannabis space.

Baird: We’re seeing the inclusion of minor cannabinoids, terpenoids, standardized recipes and faster- or slower-acting delivery systems. So, I’m following trends in advanced drug delivery systems paired with minor cannabinoids.

Green: What are you most interested in learning about?

Knowlton: I’m most interested in how I can take what I’ve learned in the food space and help bring that into the world of cannabis through Happy Chance. Ultimately cannabis is plant medicine. So, how can we educate people that the ingredients we choose to make products should be good for us too. I think that there’s a lot that can be done with it from a from a health and wellness standpoint.

Baird: I’m interested in learning more about the analytical overlay between quantifying and standardizing entheogens and plant medicines like cannabis into the product development process in CPG. I’m thinking of ways to blend the two worlds of traditional science and New Age medicine.

Green: Awesome, that concludes the interview. Thank you both, Katherine and Kalon.

2021 Infused Products Virtual Conference

By Cannabis Industry Journal Staff
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2021 Infused Products Virtual Conference

Click here to watch the recording

 

Agenda

Where to Begin: Leveraging Quality Systems to Improve Operations & Growth

  • David Vaillencourt, CEO & Founder, The GMP Collective
  • Kathleen May, Founders & Owner, Triskele Quality Solutions

In this session, Vaillencourt and May define what a quality system is, how to apply it in your operation and how to create an SOP that actually works for your employees and operation, and provide key metrics to senior management. Understand the key elements of a Quality System including utilizing a Corrective Action Preventive Action (CAPA) Program to identify and prevent recurring issues that hold your operation back.

TechTalk: MilliporeSigma

  • Dr. Stephan Altmaier, Principal Scientist, MilliporeSigma

3 Steps to Create a Compliance Culture with Operational Excellence

  • Dede Perkins, CEO & Co-Founder, ProCanna

This presentation discusses how to create a set of approved and easily accessible policies and SOPs that comply with both external and internal standards, how to create an initial training system with clearly assigned roles, responsibilities, and goals and how to create an ongoing training system with clearly assigned roles, responsibilities, and goals to maintain what you’ve created.

Innovation from an Outside Perspective – For the Purpose of Building Infused & CBD Product Success

  • Jerod Martin, Chief Research & Development Officer, CannGoods

For the cannabis industry to be successful we must start with quality research enabling us to utilize quality ingredients resulting in quality products. We should look to other industries to gain knowledge for a better cannabis industry. This presentation delves into why research matters, why ingredients matter and why quality matters.

Implementing Food Safety Management Systems in Infused Products Production Facilities

  • Dr. Laurie Post, Director of Food Safety and Regulatory Affairs, Deibel Labs

Participants will be introduced to Food Safety Management Programs such as HACCP and FDA mandated Preventive Controls systems, Food Safety Hazard Assessments and how to conduct them and Preventive controls and how to use them to craft a Food Safety system

Click here to watch the recording