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Developing One Of The Most Innovative Products In Cannabis
"I am most excited to see more scientific discoveries related to the endocannabinoid system and its uses for both major and minor cannabinoids."
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Last week I wrote an article outlining my criticism of the usage of the terms Indica & Sativa when presenting cannabis edibles to consumers.
To recap my criticism: We are yet to substantiate that terpenes influence the effects of 11 hydroxy THC (a metabolic byproduct created as the THC in your edible passes through your GI tract and liver ) — in addition, most edibles are produced using distillate such that even if there were a relationship between these molecules, by removing terpenes no such synergy could ever occur.
Following this conversation I’ve had many interesting discussions surrounding this form factor of cannabis, however, the one which piqued my interest the most is the current product development efforts underway to prevent the Delta 9 THC added to edibles from undergoing the conversation to 11 Hydroxy THC.
The end result of the application of this technology is a completely altered experience from consuming edibles — as opposed to having an almost psychedelic-like experience from 11 Hydroxy THC, consumers would instead experience the same effects as smoking a joint or taking a toke from a vape pen.
For today’s edition of Four PM, I had had the pleasure of sitting down with Andrew, who is the CEO of Kin Slips — the current market leader in the development of sublingual technology that allows consumers to experience the effects of Delta 9 THC when orally consuming cannabis.
Andrew Lobo is the former Chief Operating Officer of Get Olo, and is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Kin Slips.
What was your motivation to join the cannabis industry?
I love that the cannabis plant has the power to help so many people in so many unique ways, and that we’re only starting to learn about its true potential.
From the moment that I heard about states legalizing adult-use cannabis, I knew that I wanted to be a part of the movement. I have never seen an industry with as much excitement, positivity, and rapid development as the cannabis industry.
Literally every day, I learn something new and exciting about what’s going on in the industry and how it’s going to change the industry landscape — usually for the better. I enjoy coming to work in this industry because every day I get to be creative, resourceful, and collaborative while knowing that my efforts are making the world a better place.
How do you think about product differentiation in the cannabis industry today?
Product differentiation has been one aspect of the industry that continues to be lacking. I believe this is partially a result of restrictions around marketing and advertising which have resulted in limited ability to educate consumers and a reduced incentive for brands to take risks to improve cannabis products.
A prime example of this is the number of brands on the market that make cannabis gummies that are highly undifferentiated, and frankly provide low-quality cannabis effects and experiences.
There are many industry participants who seem focused on the spray shot approach of adding cannabinoids to every traditional consumer food/drink possible with the hopes of something catching on — this approach has resulted in very few high-quality cannabis products, particularly in the infused products market.
The good news is that as consumer education continues to improve with society’s continued acceptance of cannabis use, consumers will demand better cannabis experiences and brands will be forced to think about the actual experiences they are giving consumers with their products rather than just the packaging and THC/CBD content of the products.
What are some of the challenges you face in scaling your startup?
Behind the scenes, Kin Slips is one of the most advanced manufacturing operations in California featuring an automated, world-class CGMP facility.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get there overnight.
4+ years of R&D between two legacy companies went into getting this product to where it is today, and with that came a lot of stress, capital, and revising strategies. Frequent changes in regulations related to distribution, packaging, labeling, licensing, and other key aspects of the business have made scaling a challenge as changes to nearly anything in the ecosystem have both significant monetary and time costs which can slow progress.
It’s really tough to scale up and put automated processes in place when an exogenous factor could force us to redo an entire production or business process.
Is there a valuable mistake you've made during your career in cannabis, and what was the lesson taken from this experience?
Tasks and processes that would be simple in any other industry can be complex and time-consuming in cannabis.
This is a direct result of heavy regulations, the limitations posed by cannabis being federally illegal, and the nascency of the industry.
Cannabis isn’t an industry in which you can oversee your business from 20,000 feet and expect the operations to run smoothly.
As the CEO of the company, I have to know how nearly every process works, in and out, so that when I hear an industry or business change is coming, I can quickly adapt and work with my team to get ahead of potential issues.
What has you most excited about the future of the cannabis industry, and your role within it?
This industry is awesome – and it’s only going to get better.
I am most excited to see more scientific discoveries related to the endocannabinoid system and its uses for both major and minor cannabinoids.
Cannabis is going to make people’s lives better and I know we’ll be at the forefront of contributing to this at Kin Slips.
We believe our product is years ahead of its time, but I see us stepping into the limelight soon as consumer education continues to improve and as more people realize that Kin Slips sublingual strips offer every benefit of inhalable cannabis products, with none of the drawbacks that plague every edible and drinkable product — all in a healthier form factor that’s the most discreet in the industry.
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