Where we talk and share insights from inside the nutrition industry. A Pittsburgh based bio-tech company is using cutting edge technology to fill the gaps in the growing and evolving cannabis industry. There are several companies adding CBD into their formulas, Hemp Synergistics recently released a patent-pending Hemp Dry Powder.
MM Thanks for having me.
What has the beginning been like?
MM Like most hemp-based companies, this is a new company. We’ve been around for a year now and started real business operations only a month ago. Maybe only two weeks before COVID or right as it was starting. We haven’t skipped a beat by being an essential company.
A lot of nutraceutical product companies are integrating CBD to their current dry powder products; encapsulating into their immunity formulas. Tell me more about that and also about Bio Dry, your new product.
MM The Hemp Industry, quote-unquote, has really been online since the Farm Bill in 2018. Which basically gave the go-ahead for farmers to start growing hemp and so 2019 was the first full year of crop production and harvesting. You start seeing the product being put into commerce and the nutraceutical products. However, as of even today CBD and the other cannabinoids (CBD is one of the cannabinoids), are mainly found in the retail setting in dedicated CBD stores. When I came board, the rise of popularity on this ingredient is for good reason. It has excellent research done on it already. A lot still needs to be done, but it is looking very promising. I have a background in product design, and I don’t look at it as an industry, I look at it like an ingredient. We realized that many other companies weren’t adding CBD into their nutraceutical products in a traditional way. By that I mean, most of the consumption was by a tincture or a soft-gel or a gummy. Because, that CBD or hemp oil in general, once refined for consumer use, is a very sticky and hard to work with. We were able to refine that from a sticky messy goo into a dry free flowing powder. You can put it in capsules or a drink that you can use a powdered version of; mix it in at home. You can even put this into some recipes. So this dry and free-flowing form of nature is behind the name Bio Dry. The other selling point of it is the CBD. The concentration is very high, it’s 50%. And other previous powders were maxed at 10 or 15 percent and they had a very bad, nasty taste to them. The Bio Dry is tasteless, odorless. It really lends itself to be used for nutraceutical companies and manufacturing. While the other refined version, the CBD goo and such, doesn’t. It’s just too hard to work with.
So you’re saying that the Bio Dry is about 5 times as strong as what’s on the market today. What does that mean for other companies? What impact does that have?
It’s a brand-new product. The impact is to be determined. But the freedom and flexibility this offers now, allows you to put CBD and other compounds into a capsule. You could take a 50ml capsule and fill it with more now due to the high concentration of this powder. You can add other ingredients that compliment and highlight the effects of hemp oil. It allows more freedom for consumers and production and manufacturers. My experience has really allowed me to look at these things as ingredients. It’s trained me to look at all these interesting ingredients as ingredients. I’m learning how and why these ingredients work and I work to figure out how to compliment them. I’ve done a lot of work before with GMC, Vitamin Shoppe, General Grocery, Convenience Stores. Research and branding and value is a very valuable thing. Especially with ingredients like CBD and hemp and hemp oil. Which are still fairly new products. By us finding affordable and creative ways to make and use this product we can help the industry grow even faster. We are able to make production easier and make it more affordable allows this industry to grow faster. This is our goal. We want to bring the price down and have it reach more people. And Bio Dry helps us do that.
I was reading that hemp has gone down in price, true? How does that affect you?
Yes, the price fluctuation so far has been a rush of farmers trying to get into this industry because it was finally legal. A lot of farmers heard that it was now legal, and started to grow it. And the supply outweighed the demand. And the price for the actual bio dry mass of hemp crashed. And the everything else followed suit. So you’re seeing natural pricing fluctuations happen. How we handled with it is we partnered with the largest organic farmer in the united states, Grimway. And secured a long-term agreement to where they are growing the hemp and then we are refining it. So we get this crude oil and then we refine it to something more valuable and THC -free. So now we have a steady supply, at a steady price, and steady consistency. Also, the Bio Dry process also stabilizes those components by the nature of the manufacturer. So what I mean by that is, every batch that we do is going to have the exact same concentration of CBD, the exact same concentration of the other cannabinoids, and it will be consistently THC free.
100% free THC? That’s a risky claim. How can you assure that it is in fact 100% THC free?
There’s two data inputs to look at: once we refine the hemp oil down to something that is very valuable, something called broad-spectrum distillate, we have a refinement technique and process that is the most sophisticated way to isolate and remove individual cannabinoids. THC is the cannabinoid that gives you that high feeling. It’s most prevalent in marijuana. But it’s also prevalent in hemp. So we focus in on that single cannabinoid, THC, because there is a process to remove it. So once we remove it we send it out to get tested, just to make sure what we did was correct. And once it comes back we then use that THC free distillate to make Bio-Dry, which then we send the Bio-Dry out to get tested, just to test our math. So when you receive an order of Bio-Dry, and typically people who receive this order are contract manufacturers, people who make the products. We are making the ingredients that somebody else is going to use to make a product. And so when we send that ingredient out to the manufacturer, they are also required to test it a third time. So from the time that the hemp has the THC removed, it goes into a process of getting tested three times alone. And each time you confirm that not only THC content is 0 but you also test the other cannabinoids that are in the CBD to make sure the consumer is getting exactly what they are paying for, and not what they don’t want. Because THC can be a dangerous cannabinoid for those that have to do drug testing.
For someone like me it’s not as much as a problem, but if you are an athlete or work in the law enforcement area, it definitely is a concern for a lot of people.
The different testing agencies and organizations that test for THC, all have different standards. We don’t know those standards and there’s no way for us to know those standards. And so the only answer is to make it non-detectable, and so that’s the process and that’s how we ensure that the process is done right.
Speaking of which, I understand that Hemp Synergistics has some other products in the pipeline. Tell me more about this university backed THC test. TRU
So the different between hemp the plant, like the buds, and marijuana, the buds that you would smoke, and people would smoke hemp, the chemical different is significant. And the physical difference is almost zero. I personally would have a hard time telling the difference between the two. And so if you happen to have this hemp bud on you and you get pulled over and they smell it because it does just smell the same too, he or she is obviously going to be suspicious and want to look at it. And as of right now, there is no quick and easy field test to determine the difference between hemp and marijuana. And so the likelihood of you getting arrested is very high. Even though it isn’t illegal, it’s 100% legal and very effective when you smoke it. And so the TRU (THC Recognition Unit) is a field test for the law enforcement to quickly and easily test whether you have marijuana or hemp. Which can avoid an unwarranted arrest.
We recently heard a story of a grandma who got arrested at Disney World/Disney Land because she had brought her CBD into the park.
Yes, and there’s a lot of tragic cases out there, and that’s one of the more tragic cases because it’s rooted in such innocence. But if the police officer doesn’t know or doesn’t understand, you’re not going to be able to explain your way out of it even if you’re a kind, old, grandma.
Right, I mean if a kind grandmother can’t get out of this then who can?
Exactly, you’re in trouble. And I don’t know how many of these cases end, but I’m sure that some of these cases in very poor circumstances. And if you’re arrested and you get out of it, it’s still a big hassle to deal with in terms of money and bail. But there will be a field test eventually, and we’re leading the effort to get one out sooner rather than later. An exact launch date isn’t known yet, but we’re hoping to get it out before the end of the year.
Gotcha. So that’s one area that’s pretty messy. Another area that’s pretty messy, if not more so, is the lack of regulations. How are you navigating that and how do we standardize the industry?
That’s a great question, and I’ll start by saying the industry needs regulation on this ingredient, the industry being the nutraceutical industry. We definitely need regulation on this ingredient and currently there is some regulation. Currently there’s a prescription and its for treatment of seizures and some other horrible diseases, and they use CBD for treatment. Now specifically, they use cannabidiol isolate, CBD isolate, and that’s a process where they refine hemp oil all the way until there is nothing left than CBD. And that’s called CBD isolate. The one very clear regulation that exists that most companies violate, is that they use CBD isolate and you cannot do that. Because it exists in a drug, in other words, an ingredient cannot co-exist in a drug and a nutraceutical, it’s one or the other. And so the isolated cannabinoid, CBD, is definitely a drug. Now this may seem confusing, but if you look at hemp oil, it also has other cannabinoids, CBG, CBN, THCD, these are some other cannabinoids. Now the use of multiple cannabinoids is okay. The use of only one specific kind of cannabinoid is not okay. So that’s the first regulation that I would like to see other brands start adhering to. Now the other regulation that does exist are claims. You cannot make claims. If you make a claim on your label, you’re going to get in trouble. Or I hope you get in trouble because then it just becomes a short-cut to a sale. So you should really watch what you say on a label and you have to use the actual hemp oil that’s highly refined to accentuate all cannabinoids. That’s existing regulation. How will it play out in the future? I 100% do not know. But it will likely be something that is a barrier to some of the smaller companies unfortunately. So we welcome the regulations. They usually come with extra paperwork and testing, but we welcome it. But these are things that will help standardize and regulate the ingredient, it’s representation, and help how it will fit into the industry in general.
And as you mentioned, Epidialex is approved to treat seizures, it just got approved for a third medical condition I believe. But in terms of dietary supplements, of course, we all know, you cannot make claims.
Yes, well, it seems to me that the FDA is a little more picky when it comes to making claims with CBD. Like there are other nutraceuticals that are anti-inflammatories. So you can say that it helps promote anti-inflammatory action. Where with CBD they’re a little more sensitive. There’s news and reports and claims through various independent studies that it does work for us. The user can decide of it efficacy in terms of whatever issue they personally have. The use of claims infringes upon that patent. It is proven to be effective and again that’s only helping the industry.
Mark, do you have any other projects in the works right now that you can mention?
Yes, Bio-Dry has a sister project that I alluded to earlier, a product called CBD Bake Mix. And that’s a more durable, less concentrated version of Bio Dry. It can be used in baking applications in different food products. So we’ve tested it out in cookies, muffins, and we even tested it out by frying a donut and it even stood up to the heat of the fryer.
That actually sounds delicious right now.
It is delicious, believe me. And like the Bio Dry, it’s completely tasteless, versus if you use a hemp oil. When you use Bio Dry Bake Mix, it doesn’t influence taste, doesn’t influence the recipe. We’re excited about that and bringing it into functional foods. Which is also a low barrier, easy method for people have haven’t tried CBD who can buy a pack or two and just bake with it.