SōRSE Employee Spotlight: Mike Schmitt

Mike headshot

Mike employee spotlightMeet our Technical Project Manager, Mike Schmitt.  His academic background in Business, Food Science, and Microbiology and sixteen years of experience in the food and beverage industry lends itself well to working on the Operations team at SōRSE. Mike is the kind of person who will take on any challenge put before him, and he loves being a problem solver and mentor to his colleagues. Mike sees himself as a Jack of all trades who finds all of the work he is doing fascinating and fun, which makes him a valuable member of the team.

 

How did you end up at SōRSE? How did you find out about the company?

Prior to SōRSE, I worked at Doehler North America as a Technical Project Manager, and prior to that, I was a Food Scientist at Darigold for nearly ten years. After leaving Doehler and not working for a while, I got to the point where I just threw my hands up in the air and started calling people I had known from my past jobs, and Scott Riefler (CSO) was one of them. Scott and I had a wonderful supplier/customer relationship at Darigold; he really impressed me with his ability to be straightforward and honest, and he was someone I really trusted.  

Scott asked if I was open to working with CBD, which I was. He said there might be a position at a company he was involved with, and it was SōRSE. The process from the first conversation to job offer was a whirlwind – it happened in 12 days! I came into the job knowing I would be doing a wide array of things – and it has been fun seeing how I can be of help with my food, tech, and business background. Officially, I’m a Technical Project Manager here, but “Startup Technical Generalist Manager” is a title that I created for myself. 

 

 

What have been some of the significant moments in your time here? 

Definitely coming to the understanding that we are so new in a young industry, that we have the ability to work with and guide lawmakers who are trying to regulate this industry, and that we can set ourselves apart through best practices. Having a food and beverage mentality and mindset is already built into what we do and what makes our product stand out. We have opportunities to improve, but we are definitely leaps and bounds ahead of our competitors. One of our competitors has even asked if we could convert some of their extract for them because they liked our liquid emulsion so much; it is so clean compared to their product. Our competitors are trying to follow us and are definitely not at the same level as we are.  

 

 

In your time at SōRSE, what are you most proud of, and what do you love most about your job? 

I’m proud of being trusted to get things done. In the past I’ve been entrusted to do a lot of different things, but to be trusted right off the bat feels fantastic. I am also encouraged to try something new all the time. At SōRSE you can really do anything you want. After working for companies with so much structure, I didn’t realize that I would flourish in a startup environment, but it turns out I like to build structure around the chaos. It’s also been fun to have been able to mentor and help others in ways that I hadn’t imagined. 

 

What I love most about my work is the daily challenge. Because there is something new every day, I know that am not going to be bored. We have new markets we are going into, new suppliers we are working with – it’s great to be a part of this world. Today’s challenge is  ensuring that our B2C products have risk assessments done, because B2B assessment is a lot different than B2C. This is connected to our overall goal and long-term strategy to be ready for when the FDA makes a ruling on how CBD can interact with food. We have to be FDA-ready to make the big sale. Consumers are demanding that they get access to products with CBD in them, and it’s just a matter of time before the FDA makes a ruling on how it can officially be put into foods and beverages. 

 

 

Where do you see yourself in this role moving forward?

I envision myself talking on a variety of roles, as needed, to help the company grow. I ask that any company I work for challenges me, lets me do a  little bit of travel, and gives me the opportunity to teach and learn. That has happened to my heart’s content here at SōRSE. In Week 8 of working here, I was able to travel to London to teach others about CBD in products and how it will affect development in the UK and EU. I’m also sharing as much as I’m learning with team; I see how important it is to understand state and federal regulations. We have 11 states with recreational laws, 33 that have medical. Each set of laws is different – and you have to know those differences. SōRSE needs to have a background in the similarities and differences of regulations in the industry to help make sure we can grow as the industry does, and I’m trying to help SōRSE understand this. 

 

Can you share a fun fact that not a lot of people know about you?

 Whenever I travel to a new country, I always have to stop by a McDonald’s to try a localized product or get a cheeseburger and fries. I really appreciate the effort that goes into making a cheeseburger in India taste like one in Seattle. I’ve met the team tasked with this effort at McDonald’s headquarters, and I love to nerd out with fellow food scientists doing their job on a global scale.

 

The Science Behind a CBD Product

Zach in the SoRSE lab

While the cannabis industry is unique in many ways, product producers still need to commit to rigorous scientific practices to create and maintain a quality product. In the rush to catch the CBD wave, it can be tempting to cut corners on research, expertise, and, most of all, the testing necessary to deliver a quality product. That said, we do so at not just our own peril but that of the burgeoning industry. Here is an overview of the scientific processes advised for CBD product developers.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Well-designed, peer-reviewed research supporting structure-function claims for CBD is still relatively sparse, but it is expanding rapidly. Begin there — confirm that your idea has some basis in science. Then, refine your ideation with market projections and experienced consultancy. Research, or have your consultant advise on, the ideal potency for your form factor. It will be different for inhalants, edibles, beverages, and topicals; reliable work has been done in each product category. Then consider what supporting ingredients should be included to optimize bioavailability and the Entourage Effect. You can also look to related industries for scientific support; what can we infer from studies done on cosmetics, aromatherapy, asthma, sports medicine? This requires a lot of reading, but most scientific papers aren’t as dense as they appear at the outset. If they are too technical, you can always have a consultant parse them.

Expect to iterate according to the rapidly developing state of the art. As our scientific understanding expands, we are not just likely but guaranteed to have our current assumptions upended. In the cannabis industry, frequent reformulation and rebranding are the norm, not the exception.

PLAN FOR YOUR TESTING OUTLAY

After the product roadmap is outlined, everything boils down to testing. Test at every stage of processing (or ensure that your partners do): Farm, plants, extraction facility, extract, ingredients, lab, packaging, and finished product. Due to the importance of testing, some purchasing decisions must be made at the outset. Are you going to buy some of your own testing equipment or use a lab for everything? There are benefits and drawbacks to both, and the balance depends on your unique product and strategy.

BE THOUGHTFUL ABOUT PACKAGING
Package design is not just branding; the type of packaging used can have a real effect on shelf life. Exposure to light, heat, and air degrades cannabinoids (and other ingredients as well). Choose opaque packaging whenever possible, and try to minimize the amount of air the product will come into contact with (that’s why Velvet Swing uses an airless pump bottle, for example). The expansion of regulations will trickle down to packaging requirements. Think ahead about labeling and child-proofing.

PRIORITIZE INGREDIENT PARTNERS

It’s as true in the cannabis industry as it is everywhere else — high-quality products start with high-quality ingredients. For the extract itself, first decide on the degree of processing you will pay for. Will you do your own extraction, purchase hemp-extracted CBD oil, or purchase an even more refined product such as SōRSE? The more pure the extract, the more expensive it is likely to be, but it can absolutely be worth it due to the savings in equipment and testing costs.

Once you have your suppliers narrowed down and have received your first samples, they must be tested for potency and contaminants: pesticides, heavy metals, solvent residues, bacteria and fungi are standard. CBD companies should provide COAs, but at the beginning it’s best to verify via independent labs. However, while I recommend it initially, this testing is expensive, and you’ll quickly want to identify trusted, vertically-integrated suppliers whose plant-to-sale testing data you can access remotely. Supplier validation is crucial due to the complexity of the regulatory landscape. At SōRSE, we have supplier approval programs that monitor quality over time.

Fortunately, the other ingredients you might use in formulation are likely to have long-standing, reputable suppliers and FDA designations. Consult suppliers based on their systems for different types of tests. For example, if they use a liquid process, there is greater risk of mold compared to a powder.

TEST FOR EFFICACY

This is a highly detailed topic on its on accord; what follows is a summary of the process.

Producers should conduct efficacy testing on the same material that will be used in the finished product. CBD products should be developed like medicines, even though they are not yet regulated as such. A double-blind triangle test should be performed to establish efficacy according to various variables: potency, formulation, supplementary actives. In the THC market, product development can be hindered by regulation; fortunately, CBD is not so severely restricted. Make sure that your test group is large enough to justify your claims, even if you will not be making them on the label.

TEST FOR QUALITY

QA is primarily focused on safety, but the quality is a natural side effect. A hazard analysis must be conducted for the formula, the process, and the supplier chain. Each represents a different set of risks that have to be identified and monitored. Closely adjacent to QA is Regulatory. Depending on the type of product you are producing, regulatory documentation could include any of the following documents: Allergen statement, COAs, BSE/TSE, Ethical Sourcing/Trafficking, Food Grade Statement, FSMA Compliant Statement/FDA Registration, Gluten Statement, GMO Statement, Halal Certificate, Ingredient Declaration, Kosher Cert or Number, Letter of Continuing Guarantee, Natural Statement, Nutrition Information, Organic Statement, Product Data Sheet or Product Spec, Prop 65 Statement, Residual Solvents, Safety Data Sheet, Storage and Shelf Life, Third Party Audit, and Vegan/Vegetarian statement — but it is not standardized.

The sheer complexity of the testing and regulations that may apply to your CBD product can be daunting. Choosing SōRSE takes care of a lot of the worry for you. Here, we work with trusted, reliable suppliers and have leading-edge safety and regulatory standards. Our commitment to science is not only our superpower, but your ticket to peace of mind.

Thanksgiving Recipe: Pumpkin Pie

pumpkin pie displayed in front of pumpkin

‘Tis the season to be thankful! At SōRSE, we’re thankful for a lot of things: Our awesome team; our chef, Stacy Primack; and all of the yummy treats that she makes for us. Try out Stacy’s pumpkin pie recipe for your Worksgiving, Friendsgiving, or Thanksgiving dessert this month. You won’t be disappointed!

Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Yield: 8 portions

CBD per slice: 10 mg

Pie Ingredients:

3 eggs

2 c. pumpkin

2/3 c. sugar

A pinch of salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 c. evaporated milk

2.667 g. SōRSE liquid

1/2 tsp. ginger, freshly grated

1/4 tsp. mace, toasted to bring out flavor

1/4 tsp. allspice, ground and toasted to bring out flavor

Ready to bake pie crust

Topping:

2 c. cold whipping cream

3 T. sugar or maple syrup

3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

  • Place all pie ingredients in a large, deep bowl or deep, round container (about 8 inches deep).
  • Using an immersion (stick) blender, blend thoroughly until evenly combined, and without lumps.
  • TIP: It is best to let this mixture sit overnight in the refrigerator to let flavors macerate.
  • The next day, remove the filling from the refrigerator, give a stir with a whisk by hand, and then pour filling into pie shell.
  • Bake at 325F until set and not jiggly or wet-looking in the middle. Remove from oven before any cracks start to show.
  • Let cool at room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.
  • Next day, grab an empty mixer bowl and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  • For the topping, add cream, syrup, and vanilla and whip on medium low speed until soft peaks, increase speed to high and whip until cream is stiff enough to stand on its own.
  • (Test: Dip your finger into the whipped cream, and if it holds, it should form a light peak. Do not over-whip, or you’ll have butter.)
  • When ready, use a spoon to place the cream into a piping bag.
  • The next day, take the pie out of the refrigerator, mark it first into 8 even slices, then use a hot chef’s knife (that you have heated under water and wiped clean with a dish towel) to make cuts.
  • Decorate with whipped cream.



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5 Common Mistakes People Make When Stepping Into the Cannabis Market

Professional struggling at work in office.

The appeal of the cannabis industry is powerful: Financial success while doing fundamental good in the world. Entrepreneurial opportunity for those traditionally excluded from the business world. Fame and prestige for industry leaders. The opportunity — and indeed the demand — to innovate.

It’s not a surprise that everyone wants to be a part of it. We are an industry growing in both scope and legitimacy, and there are a lot of new members. Veteran members have a responsibility to help them avoid the pitfalls. Here are the five most common mistakes companies make when entering into the cannabis market:

1. Thinking it will Operate like Other Markets

Over the years, I’ve spoken with a lot of entrepreneurs eager to jump into the cannabis space, and they all have made the reasonable assumption that the fundamental rules of other industries will be at play here. Unfortunately, the regulatory landscape, particularly as it pertains to THC, is like nothing else in the American economy. No other ingredient is federally labelled Schedule 1 — reserved for highly addictive drugs with no medical value — yet is legal medicinally, recreationally, or both on a state level. Not only is it regulated differently from state to state, the regulations are constantly changing and are inconsistently enforced. The cannabis industry gets called the Wild West for a reason. 

CBD companies are prohibited from making any medical claims, which can be frustrating since most customers interested in CBD are looking for therapeutic effects. Because of this, euphemisms come heavily into play in branding. Some companies employ a compliance officer to review all customer-facing verbiage.

If you are working with THC, you will not be able to write off any of your standard business expenses on your federal tax return. This leads companies to fractionate their businesses, with separate companies handling payroll, marketing, and retail, which adds complexity and more paperwork. Similarly, THC products can never be shipped across state lines, even from one legal state to another, since interstate commerce is federally governed. That means that every state in which you operate must have its own THC license, processing facility, and distribution network, even if the product being sold is identical. Not only is this unreasonable, it is also impractical and expensive. Depending on where you’re setting up shop, you will have different packaging limitations for text size, package size, even the colors you can use. Requirements for redundant and/or childproof packaging are wasteful and, again, expensive. 

The other thing that differentiates the cannabis market from other markets is its demographic diversity. People from all walks of life, all ages, races, genders and income levels enjoy cannabis. Previous categorizations can be a guide, but often customer profiles don’t match the real world. You may be surprised by who buys your product–and who doesn’t. 

2. Not Getting it in Writing

Because of the limited regulation of the cannabis industry, it’s tempting to seal deals on a handshake. That’s a mistake in any business, but the ramifications are amplified in this tumultuous landscape. When — not if — one of your partners fails to deliver on their commitments, it’s hard enough to enforce a contract to begin with, let alone in this transitional market. There’s not usually a lot of money to spare for legal battles, either. Take the time to write out the terms of your agreements, and spend the money to have them reviewed by a contract lawyer. 

3. Not Embracing Redundancy

Sourcing is one of the biggest hurdles facing CBD companies. In the face of limited or non-existant regulation, choosing a supplier to provide consistent, clean cannabinoids can make or break your business. Even partners that start out looking great (spoiler: they all do) may end up failing you though logistical insufficiency or a change in leadership integrity. Redundancy is your insurance policy. CBD companies must find not one reliable supplier, but several. Don’t accept an exclusive relationship at the outset; work up to it through years of consistent performance.

4. Disregarding Institutional Knowledge

In a bid for legitimacy, many startups are hiring from industries outside the legacy cannabis market. That can be very useful for expanding the scope of cannabis applications and form factors, but without a holistic understanding of the plant, innovation can be dangerous. Accrued generational knowledge from growers and pre-legalization formulators can help you avoid costly formulation mistakes and contraindications. As a successful cannabis industry friend of mine puts it, “Always make sure you’ve got at least a couple old hippies on staff.”

5. Relying on Hype

CBD is hot as can be right now, but it doesn’t take a prophet to know that at some point the bubble has to burst. Don’t worry, CBD will be around for a long time and likely become a health and wellness staple! That said, the buzz can’t sustain this volume; products cannot be successful long-term on the basis of the inclusion of CBD alone. Thoughtful formulations that look to ingredient synergy will still have something to pique consumer interest after the hype dies down. Look to the bleeding edge of the THC market to see what will trickle down to the CBD world in the next two years: terpenes, flavonoids, fresh frozen extractions, and herbal blends. Of course, this could all be nullified depending on the speed of the now all-but-certain rescheduling of THC. Cannabis is certainly not an industry for the faint of heart.

What Would Development Look Like Without a Water-Soluble Solution?

Water droplets falling from ceiling.

Cannabinoids are lipophilic, meaning they dissolve in oils. For this simple reason, oil-based cannabis products have dominated the cannabis industry until very recently. Prior to legalization, they have been the only option; in an illicit market, the massive amounts of money, expertise, and time it takes to create a water-soluble emulsion is prohibitive. Given the nascent state of the legal industry, it’s only natural that oil-based products would be the norm. However, that is changing. 

One way to look at the advantages of a water-based formula is to review the development hurdles that must be overcome without one. A water-based solution is not appropriate for any consumption method involving heat, such as vaping or smoking, so we are going to focus on edible, tincture, and topical formulations. One way to look at the advantages of a water-based formula is to review the development hurdles that must be overcome without one. A water-based solution is not appropriate for any consumption method involving heat, such as vaping or smoking, so we are going to focus on edible, tincture, and topical formulations. 

Several product subcategories are impossible right out of the gate. Beverages, in which water is always the largest ingredient, are commercially untenable with oil. When you mix oil and water together, they rapidly separate, with the oil rising to the top of the liquid. Because of this, many products on the market need to be shaken up before drinking, which is not ideal for the producer or the consumer. The only way to create a stable beverage with oil is to infuse it into a high-fat base that contains natural emulsifiers, such as dairy or coconut milk. 

From the start, direct infusion into any oil comes with its own suite of problems. If you are using dried, cured cannabis flowers for your infusion, many flavor and smell components in the plant material will come along as well, and the resulting oil will have a strong cannabis flavor. That may not be a problem if you are making brownies in your home kitchen, but it is not acceptable at scale. To make matters worse, this flavor will vary from batch to batch; even the most consistent grows are subject to the whims of nature. Trying to guess the flavor profile of any given batch of cannabis-infused oil is like trying to guess the amount of Vitamin A in any given carrot. There is a likely range, but each plant has its own unique composition. 

To create edibles without the characteristic herbaceous notes of the cannabis flower, it is necessary to remove as much of the chlorophyll, lipids, flavonoid, and terpene content as possible. This can be reasonably and inexpensively achieved with CO2-extracted cannabis concentrates, but ideally done with a more neutral (and pricier) distillate. However, when working with these extremely low viscosity extracts, dispersal becomes a challenge. The cannabis oil must first be heated gently with a carrier oil; that carrier oil must be completely evenly dispersed into the final product, otherwise dosing will be uneven. In baked goods, the amount of mixing involved can result in a tough, dense crumb structure. 

To insure that  the oil has dispersed evenly, producers must then test the final product. That said,  it is much harder to test a cookie, for example, than a batch of cannabis oil. The complexity of the ingredients and unreliability of results have led many producers to extrapolate from limited and/or non-randomized samples, and as a result, uneven dosing plagues the legal market.

There may also be consumer education considerations when choosing oil. My largest area of expertise is the development of cannabis topicals for sexual enhancement and relief. However, oil-based topicals are incompatible with safer sex barriers such as latex or polyisoprene condoms — a massive sexual health risk of which most buyers and customers are completely unaware — and they can cause irritation in some people. Moreover, the sensory profile of cannabis is, shall we say, less than sensual for many people. My primary impetus for developing Velvet Swing was to offer a neutral, gentle, barrier-compatible option, so that customers don’t have to rely on their budtenders for being informed and willing to dispense sexual health information.

Fortunately it’s no longer necessary to be bound by the limits of oil. It’s the first rung on the ladder, the easiest path to take, and still the wisest choice for some applications. However, if you are developing a beverage, tincture, or topical, consider what water-based formulation can help you do — and what it can help you avoid.

SōRSE Employee Spotlight: Emily Skrobecki

A black and white portrait of Emily Skrobecki, a SōRSE employee.

Meet our Manager of Process Engineering, Emily Skrobecki, who brings over three years of experience in the cannabis and hemp space as an Analytical Chemist, along with an academic background in Chemical Engineering with an emphasis in biochemical processes. Emily’s knowledge and enthusiasm for her work makes her an amazing brand ambassador. She believes strongly that there is no “I” in teamwork, and this ethos is evident in the way she collaborates with the SōRSE team.

How did you get started at SōRSE?

Prior to SōRSE, I was working at an edibles company. My last company brought in Scott (CSO at SōRSE) to do a presentation, and it opened up my eyes to the emulsion technology world. Months later, I met him again at a Cann-STEM meetup where he was presenting. We started talking about working together, and he encouraged me to come to SōRSE. Funny enough, I was hesitant at first because I was well aware of how chaotic the 502 industry is and already had plans on leaving this industry.

After consulting with my parents and close friends, I decided not to leave the industry because it’s a once in a lifetime experience, particularly watching cannabis become legal — medicinally and recreationally — and now going through a huge growth period. Now, one year later, I am so happy I took this job. I’ve had endless opportunities to play in the lab and shape myself into the scientist and engineer I wanted to be. I feel appreciated and seen as a knowledge source, and I am happy with the team we’ve created. I firmly believe that the science drives the integrity of our product. 

What is Cann-STEM?

Cann-STEM is a cannabis science group that I started, for people like me, to meet and talk about the industry’s scientific progression. At that time, the industry was still so new that most “discoveries” were being kept a secret due to the illegal/closet thinking tendencies when cannabis was a federal crime. 

Cann-STEM was made to promote the development and sharing of cannabis scientific knowledge through the collaboration of cannabis research, innovation, and technology. The group has speakers to come talk with us every month about what they were working on and share their knowledge. 

What have been some of the significant moments in your year here?

One of my first projects at SōRSE was to create a powder formulation that would have similar water-soluble properties of our liquid, but also be easy to process with high yields. I worked closely with Scott and Michael Flemmens (VP of Science at SōRSE) for guidance in creating this challenging monster. Long days, weeks, and months were put into this project, but all became worth it in the end. Long story short, creation and commercialization has been my most significant moment here thus far. Scale-up is usually a long process, and man, we commercialized that product in less than 10 months. What a record! 

In your time at SōRSE, what are you most proud of?

I’m really proud of how the company, and the people within the company, have grown in one calendar year. We all have been pulled and stretched in many directions, but we have grown so much from it. We failed — a lot — but failing is good. If you are not failing, you are not learning. One of my favorite phrases, both in the workplace and my personal life is, “there is always room for improvement.”

What do you love most about what you do?

I love the challenge of someone saying, “I want to put CBD in this.” People have crazy ideas for products – and there are endless opportunities to help people get their idea off the ground. I am happy to be on a team that explores these ideas and does insane things in the lab. 

Can you share a fun fact that not a lot of people know about you?

One of the most important things in my life is spending as much time in the ocean as possible. My goal is to be in the ocean at least once every day. As of right now, I am close to once a week! Baby steps…

Benefits of SōRSE From a Product Development Standpoint

aluminum cans lined up

Here at SōRSE, we talk a lot about our seven pillars and what they mean for the consumer. However, many of the best aspects of our technology show up well before a product gets to the end user. Let’s look at the ways that SōRSE can help you through the classic stages of product development:

IDEA GENERATION

A fast and easy-to-use water-based preparation opens up entire new worlds of creative product ideation, and even new product categories. For example, beverages, which is an enormously diverse product type, are impractical or unpalatable (usually both!) with oil. What would you do if you weren’t limited to using oil? With SōRSE, beverages are easy — so your team can really let their imaginations run wild.

IDEA SCREENING

After you’ve brainstormed with your team, it’s time to sift out the winners from the duds. To know what is most likely to succeed in the market — or to create a new market — you need data, and we’ve got it. SōRSE is proven in market; you can look to our partners’ successes to help refine the viability of your ideas. We also have an experienced technical team to help you identify complex problems in advance of production. We can help you figure out and understand your unknowns.

The cannabis market is a dynamic, evolving place. Customer profiles and categories don’t fall along traditional lines; the appeal of CBD cuts across demographic lines like little else. Rather than predicting customer preferences based on age, gender, etc., we should look to their reasons for choosing CBD. Take potency, for example — one of the key market decisions you will need to make. For the medical user, cost per milligram (mg) is the primary value, whereas casual users are more likely to prioritize taste. Fortunately, SōRSE works with both low and high potencies, which you can optimize for the market you are trying to reach.

CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT

Paying for a pre-emulsified product may seem like a luxury, but it’s far less expensive than reinventing the wheel. Building an emulsion technology is not as simple as porting existing food science techniques to cannabis oils. Emulsion technology becomes far more complicated when working with 30 or more compounds that make up broad spectrum cannabis concentrates. Even distillates typically have impurity percentages in the low double digits, all with different weights and attributes. The amount of work perfecting a cannabis oil emulsion is staggering. Fortunately, at SōRSE, it’s all we do.

Another consideration is supply. Vetting reliable sources for materials can take months, and there’s still no guarantee that they will remain reliable. Why? Because the regulatory landscape changes fast, and turnover is high. The solution to this uncertainty is redundancy. SōRSE has a network of manufacturing locations and multiple well-established, high-quality suppliers. If something changes in the regulatory landscape, we can respond quickly and there will be no interruption in supply.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

The nuts and bolts of formulation are where SōRSE shines the brightest. Rather than having to spend thousands of dollars on equipment and months of employee time working up an emulsion only to have it fail stability testing, your team can hit the ground running and put your focus where it belongs: sensory, efficacy, and scalability. Because competition is ramping up every day in the CBD world, it’s more important than ever to stand out. SōRSE also blends effortlessly into most water-based preparations, so it’s a good choice if you’ve already done some product development work.

COMMERCIALIZATION

Once you know you’ve got a winning formulation on your hands, it’s time to put it into motion. In the run-up to launch, you’ll be able to generate buzz as a product #PoweredbySōRSE. You’ll again benefit from the institutional knowledge of our team, who have decades of experience in food and beverage science, emulsion, and cannabis as you strategize for your product’s big splash.

Water-based products appeal to the values of the emergent market. They can be accurately marketed as innovative, convenient, palatable, versatile, and adaptable — truly the next evolution of cannabis. And with SōRSE, you’ve got a powerful team behind you every step of the way.

Halloween Recipe: Witches’ Fingers

witch finger treats

Halloween is right around the corner! Kick up the fear factor in your Halloween dessert game with a recipe straight from the SōRSERERS’ kitchen! Whip up some ghoulishly good cookies, the Witches’ Fingers, created by our chef, Stacy Primack, for your upcoming Halloween event!

WITCHES’ FINGERS

Yield: about 12 3-oz pieces

CBD per cookie: 10 mg

Ingredients:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup powdered sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1.2 grams SōRSE powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup seedless raspberry jam

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325F degrees.
  • Whip the butter and both sugars in a stand mixer or with handheld beaters until light, fluffy and smooth.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, until the yolk disappears into the mix.
  • Scrape down the bowl, making sure to get the bottom of the bowl for even dough consistency.
  • Mix in the vanilla. Then separately, whisk together remaining dry ingredients.
  • Slowly, in batches, add dry ingredients, scraping down sides of bowl in between.
  • Remove dough from bowl, shape dough into a log and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.
  • Taking about 2 tablespoons of the dough of the log at a time, roll between your palms until you get a 4 or 5 inch finger, 1/2-3/4” in thickness.
  • Press an almond towards the top to make an indentation for the “fingernail”. Additionally, make cuts with a paring knife for the knuckles. Shape like wobbly knobby witch fingers.
  • Place fingers on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake until golden, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove and let cool. In a small saucepan, heat jam over low heat until warm and liquid. Dip the raw edges (not the nail side) into the jam.



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The Versatility of SōRSE in CBD Products

plastic juice bottles in a row

It is increasingly true that if a product exists, there is a CBD-infused version of it — and we think that’s great! In fact, at SōRSE we are doing everything we can to make infusing products with cannabinoids easier, safer, and more reliable. Here are the categories in which SōRSE can be used to create exceptional, innovative products:

BEVERAGES

Drinks are our bread & butter here at SōRSE Tech, but it’s worthwhile to take a moment to review the incredible versatility within this one category: hot and cold beverages, carbonated sodas, juices, mixers. SōRSE, in liquid or powder form, can be used as a beverage amendment or integrated into the end product. It’s easy to work with whether you’re a product developer or a consumer.

Using SōRSE in beverages means greater bioavailability and faster onset, thanks to our small particle size and even dispersal. One of the biggest hurdles facing cannabis drink manufacturers is the delay of onset. With SōRSE, consumers can feel the effects in as little as 20 minutes. This makes beverages viable and versatile conduits for cannabinoid delivery in the real world: a way to engage in casual, socially acceptable relaxation without the drawbacks of alcohol.

TINCTURES

Tinctures are distinct from beverages because they allow sublingual as well as intestinal absorption (the longer the product is held in the mouth, the greater the proportion will be). They tend to be highly concentrated and usually combine cannabinoids with other bioactive herbs. Historically, tinctures were made using alcohol as a solvent (the process was as simple as grinding up cannabis flower and letting it sit in alcohol for two weeks), and most tinctures were strongly alcoholic as a result. In the modern landscape, however, this is undesirable – and sometimes illegal.

With the faster onset time and great palatability mentioned above, SōRSE is a fantastic choice for tincture development. It also offers seamless blending with terpenes to increase absorption and/or tilt the effects of the cannabinoids towards a classically “indica” or “sativa” experience. In any tincture, some proportion of the cannabinoids will be swallowed and absorbed intestinally, using SōRSE ensures that their onset time is as short as possible, so that consumers are still getting the immediate results they expect from tincture applications.

TOPICALS

Topicals and transdermals will always be nearest and dearest in my product developer heart. That’s because they have so many benefits and are so appreciated. The skin is loaded with CB2 and CB1 receptors, and the discomfort of many skin conditions is the result of inflammation. Cannabinoids are famously anti-inflammatory.

I have seen cannabis topicals make a huge difference in symptom management for a wide range of localized skin and muscle issues. The challenge when developing topicals and transdermals is penetration, and most products facilitate this with oil and intense chemicals like capsaicin, menthol, or DMSO. SōRSE offers a water-based alternative for those with sensitive skin, or for application to mucous membranes. Unlike oil, its consistency can be easily adjusted. And for those of us who are concerned about the use of nano products topically (more on that in an upcoming article), SōRSE offers safe, predictable results.

With this many application avenues it’s easy to see how SōRSE became a product developer’s dream. Maybe we should change the saying to “if it exists, you can add SōRSE to it!”

What New Consumers Want In a CBD Product

customer shopping on aisle

Recent projections estimate the CBD market will see $15-20 billion in sales in the next 5 years, with the expansion of CBD into mainstream retail driving most of the influx. Some of these sales are going to be existing customers increasing their consumption, but the bulk will come from novel consumers. First-time CBD users tend to be in their 30s and 40s, educated, and employed. This is the person whose tastes will drive the emergent market. What will they be looking for in CBD products?

EASE OF USE

There are many products on the market that, frankly, look and taste awful, but they succeed because their form factors make consumption convenient. The emergent CBD consumer isn’t looking for bongs and dabs; they want products they perceive as more sophisticated. Clean, tidy, portable.

DISCRETION & TASTEFULNESS

CBD doesn’t bear the stigma of THC but delivery methods can look the same, which lends practical support to the new consumer’s otherwise subjective preferences. For their most common applications, cannabinoids require periodic administration. Professionals may be interested in consuming CBD consistently throughout the day, which calls for a non-obvious delivery method. Beverages and beverage additives, elevated tincture formats, and transdermal patches seek to address this.

EFFICACY

Does the product deliver its promised effects? This can be a tricky one when structure-function and medical claims are verboten. Marketers have to approach from a glancing angle, using non-specific words like “calm,” and “relief” to code for CBD’s established medical effects. With customer expectations based on such inference, how will they assess whether a product “works?” As producers, our job is to overshoot the mark and make our products as effective as possible.

Unfortunately, many formulations include CBD as an afterthought rather than an active ingredient. Products need to be treated as delivery matrices for CBD; their job is to efficiently and pleasantly usher the active ingredient to the consumer. In order to be effective, CBD must be delivered in sufficient dosage, and it benefits tremendously from co-administration with native phytochemicals such as terpenes and flavonoids. While these can be a sensory challenge due to their bitterness and perceived “chemical” notes, they can also direct or integrate the flavor profile to make it feel more natural. Terpenes and terpene blends are a way to bend the subjective CBD experience and even offset the small number of potentially undesirable effects.

If customers find a product’s drawbacks outweigh its benefits, then they will most likely not purchase it again. If they do not find their product to be effective at all they will relegate CBD to the snake oil bin, with dire repercussions for the industry as a whole.

FLAVOR

In the pre-legalization market, taste was de-prioritized and the natural bitterness of cannabinoid extracts was the price you had to pay for the effects. (There are even some who currently argue that cannabis’ bitterness helps it be taken more seriously as medicine.) But for the casual, more recreational user, it’s hard to see why unpalatability is anything but a challenge to overcome.

Fortunately, relaxed stigma around cannabis has made higher-skill talent available from the food and beverage science industry, where bitterness is an old and oft-vanquished foe. By porting people and technology from there, we can avoid reinventing the wheel.

STABILITY

At SōRSE, stability is our claim to fame, but the truth is customers don’t give much thought to it — at least not consciously — until it fails. Rather it is an expectation they have of mainstream commercial products, only noticeable when it is absent. As the CBD market becomes more polished, products that separate or require shaking will be viewed as unprofessional. Stability work is an indispensable part of product formulation, especially for complex concentrates with diverse chemical profiles. We’ll see more and more customers asking for this as the market matures.