With so many cannabis and CBD brands emerging on the market today – and so many consumers reporting mediocre first experiences – quality testing is more important than ever. Not only can quality testing help build trust in your brand’s quality and trustworthiness, but there are many other ways accurate and reliable testing can add value to your brand. Join us in this episode as we discuss cannabis testing, research, and R&D with the experts at RM3 Labs and Nano Labs.
Adam Kulbach, Christian Tobias, Alex Eisenberg
Adam Kulbach 00:19
Hello and welcome to the higher enlightenment podcast brought to you by higher yields cannabis consulting your seed to sale Business Solutions team. My name is Adam, your host and part of the creative team here at higher yields. And today’s episode number 40 is about cannabis testing, research and development and manufacturing with our special guests, Kristian Tobias, Business Development Associate at RM three labs, and Alex Eisenberg, who’s the director of manufacturing at nano labs. So let’s get on with the show. Let’s start by having you guys introduce yourselves, give us a little background. Let’s start with you, Christian,
Christian Tobias 01:03
Christian Tobias, Business Development Associate with RM three labs. I’ve been with the lab for two years now. We have been around since 2009, doing cannabis compliance testing in the state of Colorado. I Previous to this, I was with a biomedical testing lab that was nationwide. And funny enough, I thought there’d be a correlation between the two. And I’ve had to learn everything all over again. Before that I was in finance and nonprofits before that. So in the last couple years, I’ve been able to really ramp up with quality by up sorry, with RM three labs. And even with all the changes, we’ve still managed to stay on top of the compliance testing here in the state of Colorado. I think as a lab, we have a third of the market share in the state. And I work with all the top operators and producers.
Adam Kulbach 02:08
Great. Well, thanks for being here. How about you? Alex, could you introduce yourself and give us a little background?
Alex Eisenberg 02:16
For sure. My name is Alex Eisenberg. I’m the director of manufacturing for Nano labs out of Denver and Colorado Springs. We’ve been around since about 2014 from a an r&d and development standpoint. And then in our, in our current format, we’ve been going strong for about three and a half years now doing, you know, specialized, you know, product development and custom stuff, you know, working on different projects for clients that are, you know, direct to consumer, you know, type clients. So that first phase was very much around, you know, creating product that that would, you know, boasts higher availability, you know, better absorption rates, better efficiency, as as well as more standardized product formulations. So that’s, that’s kind of our focus. We do a lot of, you know, white label projects, as well as those customer development projects and raw material manufacturing.
Adam Kulbach 03:15
Well, thanks for being here, Alex. So let’s get on with the questions. So what is a lab partner?
Christian Tobias 03:23
So from, from our perspective, if you have us as a lab partner, we see us as an entire team. So you’re you’re joining an entire team that you don’t have to necessarily hire for so for for instance, we have a lab director, Quality Manager, lead chemists and microbiologists as well as client service and sales. But the bottom line is, all of our chemists and bio microbiologist have degrees. They have analytical or scientific experience in the cannabis industry or similar industries. Use that use the same testing. mythologies, right? So a lot of our people come from pharmaceuticals, food, ag or environment. And basically, if you bring us on board, or we are your lab partner, we do what’s best to help you resolve issues when they when they arise, right? So the biggest thing is, we test for compliance. So if your partner then we will if if you manage to fail for anything, then we’ll sit around and actually research and see why you did and try to get to the bottom of that.
Alex Eisenberg 04:43
Yeah, and to kind of give a broad stroke of the way my brain always you know, processes, working with, you know, labs as partners and then you know, ourselves being a development lab partner for a lot of companies, the probably the broadest brush that you could paint it with is allowing experts to be experts. And, you know, working with companies and working with people and working with labs, where you’re, you know, allowed to be reliant on them to be the expert and not having to, you know, try to figure out every facet of this industry by yourself. And it always results in a better product and always results in, you know, quicker analysis and quicker means to an end when it comes to solving problems. Nothing in manufacturing is ever perfect. So from, from my perspective of, you know, being a manufacturer, we strive for perfection, of course, always with everything we’re doing, but it’s never going to be perfect. So where you can really seek and find and develop perfection, is in your analytics and making sure that you’re, you know, double triple checking to make sure that things are right, and then adjusting and correcting the things that that aren’t.
Adam Kulbach 05:53
Okay, so beyond compliance, what are some of the other things you test for.
Alex Eisenberg 05:59
Um, for us, we do, you know, a great deal of compliance testing, and then the kind of the, the, we call it secondary, but it’s equally as important is all of the other safety testing. So doing any of our full panel testing on products, you know, staging testing, as we’re going through the production process, so testing, you know, batches of raw materials, when they come in testing those materials, once they’re mixed, to make sure nothing new has been introduced, testing throughout the filling process. And then, of course, testing the final product to make sure that that everything’s come out, you know, to the expectation of what we’re manufacturing. And that testing, you know, can include microbial, heavy metals, solvents, pesticides, you know, pretty much you name it, if it’s a bad thing that can end up in a type of product, no matter what type of product it is, we’re testing to make sure that that it’s not present, and that, you know, we’ve done our jobs correctly, and produce the best product that we possibly can.
Christian Tobias 06:59
Yeah, and from our perspective, if we have if we’re a lab partner, basically, we will do the same kind of r&d testing for a lot of our clients throughout their process. Unlike Alex, obviously, they are creating products. So we are, we are also just a partner in terms of being able to be there for our clients as they do their r&d testing.
Adam Kulbach 07:27
Okay, is there a great difference in the quality of labs? And what should one look for in choosing a lab partner?
Alex Eisenberg 07:36
That’s a that’s a, that’s a good one. I’ll let I’ll let you go first.
Christian Tobias 07:43
Yeah, so I mean, there’s, obviously there’s a ton of differences in labs. But I think the biggest thing is, you want to make sure your lab is ISO accredited, and we are ISO 17 025 accredited, that basically means there’s a formal recognition of the lab that we’re competent, at certain, doing specific tests under a quality management system, right. And the biggest thing is for us, we also say Does, does the lab, your partner with participate in a proficiency testing program? You know, our assessments of individual labs performance for specific tests or measurements done? Do you have an inter laboratory comparison results reported by different labs? And honestly, for labs that are under ISO standards, you have to have that right. And it is required for many states to do it. But some states don’t require it. So if they don’t require it, you’re asking whether their methods are validated. What are the limits of connotations? And basically, here’s the biggest thing is your lab transparent and open? Right? We, for example, at RM three, we allow our potential clients and our clients to tour our actual lab. We’re upfront about pertinent information, like our delays or instrumentation issues. And we do share supplemental information such as our raw data, for example, our chromatograms. And basically, will the lab work with you to solve problems? And that’s the biggest thing on compliance testing. And I think that’s what differentiates a good lab from maybe a not so good lab.
Alex Eisenberg 09:34
Yeah, and to kind of add on to that, you know, we’ve, you know, worked with many labs because, you know, we’ve worked with the, the labs that we utilize, and then we’ve also had to work, you know, in conjunction with labs that our clients choose, as just being part of the manufacturing process on our side. You know, third party validation goes you know, as far as the clients choosing a lab either, you know, locally to them, or you know, a lab that They specifically trust and, and we run our own kind of down and dirty, you know, tests and studies and interviews with these labs to make sure that we’re working with labs that we can trust, and that we can trust the data that we’re receiving from them. And we’ve done everything from, you know, sending out multiple samples of the same exact product with different labels on it, to see if if the results would come back reflecting what the label said, or reflecting what we knew the material was. And in this, this boom, that we’re in, in this industry, you know, it’s, it’s very easy for people to try to just jump in and take some of the money. And that’s, you know, a lot of unfortunately, a lot of companies goals on both the lab side and the manufacturing side in the hemp and cannabis space, is this is the, you know, the gold rush or the the green rush for better terminology, you know, they want to jump in and do whatever they can to take some of that, that money that’s out on the table. And that’s resulted in a lot of, you know, bad actors, when it comes to labs and manufacturers. So rooting through them is really difficult. And I think that’s awesome that you guys, you know, are open to the tours, you know, we do the same thing, where, you know, our clients are more than welcome to come visit us and see what we’re doing and, you know, pop in whenever they want, you don’t have to have an appointment or anything like that, because we know that every minute of every day that we’re operating, we’re doing it right, and we’re doing it, you know, to the, to the best of our ability in every facet, as I’m sure you guys are. So it’s you know, I think that that is a big thing that that sets that stage. And then you know, things like, like you’re talking about Christian, like sharing the actual chromatograph, there’s a lot of labs that won’t do that. They just won’t share it with you, they say this is the results we got, and we have no obligation to dig any deeper for you. And I think it’s great when, when we can go above and beyond, as you know, lab partners and manufacturing partners and say, you know, more importantly than, than us making money, we want you to have an absolutely stellar experience and come out with a just terrific product that’s going to help people you know, in a in a space where, you know, so much of our history of this industry is clouded with snake oil, and you know, witchcraft and that kind of thing. You know, it’s it’s just awesome to you know, get to work with people and meet people that that take it as seriously as we do. When it comes to the fact that, you know, we have to realize we’re here to help people. And that should always be priority number one.
Christian Tobias 12:31
Absolutely. I mean, part of the thing even is, if we change a method or a process, you know, does your lab that you use let you know about that. Right? And yeah, the most important thing is, if you have a, if you’re using a lab that’s uncommunicative, or unwilling to answer your questions, probably time to find another lab.
Alex Eisenberg 12:53
Absolutely. Yeah, the My Favorite labs to work with are the labs that, you know, throughout the process of building and growing a relationship with them, you know, they they come to you, and they say, Hey, so what kind of stuff do we not test for that you’d like to see on our menu, you know, what kind of what kind of access would would benefit you and your customers to provide a, you know, better product, and that’s, you know, always a great thing in a relationship to have that communication where, you know, you can kind of call him sometimes and gripe and, you know, find out what’s going on with something and then there, you know, more often than not a good lab will be will be on the phone with you before you even know there’s an issue, whether it’s a timeline issue or a testing results issue that, you know, they know, something came back clearly different than what you were expecting, you know, a good lab is on the phone with you before they even send those results to you. And, and as far as, you know, a bad lab or a mediocre lab, they send you the results and hope you don’t call it that that’s 100% true, though else. Yeah. Yeah.
Adam Kulbach 13:59
So what are some of the things that people don’t think about? Regarding r&d and manufacturing?
Alex Eisenberg 14:07
I’m gonna let go. Yeah, well, well, well, if it’s lab based, you go first, and then I’ll dig it on the other side, and vice versa. So one of the one of the things that that I think is the most important that people really don’t think about when it comes to, you know, not only research and development and the actual manufacturing process, but the, you know, the launching of a new product is more often than not, you know, we we see opportunities on the horizon where they have a good idea, or they’ve got, you know, something lined up sales wise, as far as, you know, distribution network or something like that. And one of the biggest things we see is people not paying attention to the full budgetary requirements of creating a new product and bringing it to market. So more often than not, we’ll have companies that either have all their, you know, all their eggs in the basket on one side and not the other, or vice versa. So they’ll have all the money to develop the product, and no money to manufacture it, or all the money to manufacture it and not realize that there’s a charge for development. So that’s, that’s probably the first thing that always jumps out in my head is, is that, you know, kind of, unbeknownst to them lack of preparation for what the full scope of a project like that can be, you know, to go through, you know, just two more things that jumped right off the page at me, you know, timelines are a really big thing that jumps out, you know, people see, companies, you know, large scale companies like, you know, large pharmaceutical, or food and beverage companies that are now releasing CBD products or hemp products. And they think that they just caught wind of a news article that came out that said, CBD is great. And Coca Cola just all of a sudden decided that this week, we’re making CBD products, they don’t realize that these companies have been working on these products for you know, 510 years now that this is a, you know, a long term project, to create some of these products and bring them to market. And probably on the, you know, the the last note of one of the things that people don’t always fully understand about manufacturing, is the the reasons and the explanations behind why things work the way they do you know, why we have certain MOQ is in place and why those MOQ ‘s are important for more than just the bottom line. When you’re talking about a minimum order quantity, you’re not only talking about, you know, manufacturing in a fashion where you’re efficient, and you’re, you know, saving money where you can, but we’re also talking about manufacturing in a way where we can guarantee the quality of products, you know, a lot of those MOQ is come into play, when it comes to, you know, working with a quality manufacturer, because of the amount of time that it takes to clean, sanitize, disinfect and reset equipment and machinery. So if you find a manufacturer, just like we discussed, we’ve got bad actors in the lab space. And if you go to a manufacturer and say, Hey, I need I need five of these a week, and they say, yeah, no problem, we’ll do five of them a week, you know, there’s a pretty good chance that, you know, maybe things aren’t being done to the proper standards, because the amount of effort and work that it takes to make sure that a product is being manufactured properly, isn’t conducive to producing five units or 10 units or 20 units. Really the kind of the the bigger scale you can get, the more you can ensure that, you know things are being mixed properly produced properly dosed properly, you know, properly packaged, because the equipment you’re using is up to a standard of manufacturing that fits in the same space as your your Coca Cola and your Budweiser or your Kellogg’s, you know, doing doing the being a part of the hemp industry for as long as I have, you know, I’ve seen everything for manufacturers that we’ve worked with as, as, you know, third party consultants, or third party manufacturers, everything where you know, they sell you a good game on the phone, and you find out they’re doing it in their basement when you Google the address that they give you to ship your materials to. So you know, making sure that that nothing really, you know, sounds out of whack is is super important in the manufacturing space. If it sounds too good to be true. It probably is if you’ve called 30 manufacturers and 29 of them said there’s no way this can be done this way. And one says I can do it, they’re not a superhero, typically, typically, they’re the ones that are willing to break the rules, and they’re the ones that are willing to you know, produce something in in a subpar manner, because they want to make a quick buck. So So I guess the, you know, kind of, in summation of that third thought the ideas if, you know, if if you get told no 100 times and that one person says yes. Be be leery of that, that yes, it’s not always a good thing.
Christian Tobias 18:50
Yeah, and you know, the biggest thing is, it is still a new industry and other industries, it’s common to employ people that have scientific backgrounds in quality control, quality assurance backgrounds. Frankly, in in the marijuana industry, there’s not that yet, I mean, we haven’t really encountered too many people, unless you’re an alux. And you’re using their lab, and they’re, they’re fully aware of anything that everything that has to go into r&d and manufacturing, right. From a testing point of view, you know, we can be a key part of the r&d process. But basically, it’s the relationship between the lab and we can help you quickly identify and address problems that come up during development. But it’s it’s it’s down to inaccurate dosing or lack of homogeneity, but we don’t really get in there like Alex does and understand what their processes I’m not in their manufacturing facility and seeing how they do it, right. So basically, all we can do is say here’s your result. And we do suggest maybe it’s better or that better to increase the efficiency and precision of their production methods. But again, that’s on them.
Adam Kulbach 20:12
What are the common issues and problems that you come across in your product testing?
Christian Tobias 20:18
Yeah. So basically, the common issues and problems are what I’ve kind of related to the last question, but it’s the biggest issue is, somebody had a great idea, they decided to do it, but it was through their technique, or what happens during the manufacturing process, they can’t get the dosing Correct. Or there’s a lack of homogeneity, which is basically, if you have a bar of, you know, 100 milligrams of THC, then throughout that bar there has there, the dosage per dose is maybe 10. So there’s 10 separate doses within that. So you have to make sure that that’s accurate, right? That’s the biggest thing with us. So there’s, there’s issues with that. And then throughout the process, well, let’s take for example, preroll, rolls pre roll joints, sometimes, they switch manufacturers in terms of the paper that’s used, and they didn’t even realize that it’s the paper that’s causing them issues that, that whoever was manufacturing the paper, wherever they got that from, that’s what’s causing them to failed tests based on heavy metals or some or even even pesticides within the paper. So if they if they don’t have us helping them through their r&d process, and we’re not actually testing the products that are under dosed, as we like to say, then you’re gonna have fails or inaccurate results. And it’s really difficult than for them to come out with a product. That is what the label says it is.
Alex Eisenberg 22:00
This Yeah, and I’ve, I’ve always been curious, from, from my experience, more often than not, any heavy metals or pesticides, that that I’ve, you know, found in materials more often than not, is not actually present in the, in the cannabinoids at all.
Christian Tobias 22:18
Absolutely, that is, that is 100%. And so And frankly, before you manufacture, so a lot of times, we’ll go ahead and test the flour first, there’s nothing in it, right. And that’s why we ask them to give us every piece that we could possibly test for them, you’re right about that, Alex, most of the time, we find it in the paper or the other ingredients that were used to create that
Alex Eisenberg 22:42
product. Yeah, and that’s, that’s been my experience a lot of the time is not not a lot of the time because it’s not really something that that comes up that frequently, due to the you know, kind of the vetting process that we use for the vendors we’re getting materials from, but I mean, I’ve I’ve found, you know, because we test raw materials as they’re coming in, and not just you know, cannabinoid raw materials, but we’re testing you know, VG, we’re testing MCT oil, we’re testing you know, all these different components that are going into products and the couple of times that we’ve had you know, pops for heavy metals it’s been in the raw materials and it’s been in you know, the the VG or it’s been in the MCT oil and that’s what you know, over the past, you know, decade here about has led us down the road of developing a, a, you know, incredibly stringent vetting process for where these materials are coming from, you know, there’s a lot of material suppliers out there that they’re looking for the materials they’re passing through to you at the cheapest place they can find it and it could be a different vendor, they’re getting it from every single time and that’s that’s not what you should be looking for as as a manufacturer or a research and develop lab you should be looking for you know, a company that you can work with that that treats chain of custody of something like MCT oil the same way we all think chain of custody for for cannabis products.
Adam Kulbach 24:09
Okay, so what is the biggest difference between the CBD and THC markets and industries?
Christian Tobias 24:17
Alex Eisenberg 24:18
CBD is way easier when it comes to rules and regulations standpoint that’s I mean I think that’s the biggest differences you know there’s there’s so much less you know, for lack of better term paperwork to deal with you know, when it comes down to it it’s your your whole focus can just be on the quality of the product process as to where in the THC space you know, you’ve got to worry about all that same stuff that we do in the in the hemp space, but now you’ve also got to worry about all the legislation changing constantly and all the regulations
Christian Tobias 24:53
that’s that’s the biggest thing with the THC obviously being regulated and, and somewhat unregulated with a C But yes the regulations that change yearly and the departments that are in charge of those regulations so as you’re in the THC space, maybe your products okay one year and then it might not be okay the next year or for example this year cdphp In the MVD here in Colorado is wanting us to test for vapor emissions from your carts right so that’s And and frankly the only other industry to do that is tobacco and you know they’re not they’re not testing for THC so so that is the big difference and I think honestly with with the regulations and and what you have to do to create a product or even to get the plant useful then yeah it’s it’s a lot difficult it’s a lot more difficult to do it on the THC side plus you know, when you’re sourcing you can’t source from another state right so every everything that’s got THC in it does have to be grown in Colorado and manufactured in Colorado. So there’s there’s another difference and frankly, you know, there are there is a THC level and CBD, it’s just very low. So so big difference between both of those processes.
Alex Eisenberg 26:29
We’re gonna have to put a catalytic converters on the on the vape cartridges here pretty soon.
Adam Kulbach 26:36
So what is GMP? Why does it matter and is it required?
Alex Eisenberg 26:42
Go that’s a good one. Yeah, that’s a that’s a good one. So GMP is is not not required and it’s actually technically not a government institution that’s overseeing anything GMP, if we go broad strokes brush again, GMP is really more a mindset and a practical application than anything. And you know when it when it comes to GMP, when people think of a GMP facility their first you know thing they picture in their head is this you know, sparkling floors, sparkling walls, all the stainless is polished facility. And that’s actually the least important part of GMP. The most important thing that GMP does is GMP and and, you know focusing on and running through good manufacturing practices, what it really is focusing on is, is paperwork and control and just utter understanding of every single aspect of your process. And what that means is it means you’ve you’ve taken a manufacturing process, which could be anything from manufacturing, you know, a candy bar all the way to cannabis and hemp products, all the way to sunscreen, you know, anything can really fall into this category. And what it’s really focusing on is making sure that you’ve taken a an industry that you understand that you’re an expert in and then implemented the standards and guidelines that are recognized by you know, millions of companies around the country and around the world as the proper way to conduct yourself as a manufacturer, and that ranges from everything from material storage, all the way down the line to final testing of a finished product and everything that comes in between there. So GMP not being a government you know required institution or a government required set of standards means that you can have a lot of gray area between a GMP company and a company that’s you know, just kind of manufacturing stuff willy nilly style. So really the importance of a GMP company and I’m sure this is something we’ll we’ll get into later or or on on future you know conversations but really the importance of GMP beyond that you know cleanliness and control over your manufacturing environment is creating that you know that completely consistent and user experience of a product meaning that every time a customer picks up a finished product, they are getting the exact same thing as the the first bottle they bought so whether it’s batch 0001 or batch 10 million of a product every single one of those if you’re following your your GMP standards and protocols, the rules and regulations that are set up specifically to make sure that you’re manufacturing things properly and ethically that that number one you know run and number 10 million Ron are going to be exactly the same product and when it comes to you know an industry like the the hemp and cannabis industries, where you know, as I as I said before, there’s you know so much You know, misunderstanding and Miss judgment of what this industry is and what these products can do for people, one of the most important things I think we can do as an industry is push harder and harder towards companies manufacturing things properly. And making sure that every time somebody picks up a product, whether it’s a CBD or THC product, you know, they’re getting the same product, they’re getting the same dosage, they’re getting the same value in the same quality. And the same effects out of every single, you know, dropper full, they take out of a tincture bottle. You know, I think just about anybody on the planet who’s ever, you know, tried CBD or THC product has had the experience where they, you know, got a chocolate bar, and they one little piece of it one time, and everything was fine. So then they half of it the next time and everything was fine. And then they one little piece the third time and it ruined their whole lives. I mean, it’s it’s very common in this industry that you know, Miss Miss dosing and, you know, Miss formulating and making, you know, these huge, massive mistakes happen. And really, the only way to avoid that is by implementing a GMP protocol and structure for your specific industry. And that’s the important part that people miss a lot, when it comes to GMP is they think it’s this universal rubber stamp that you can stamp on anything, and you make sure your floors are swept and the things are put away properly, and everybody will be happy when the reality is it’s so much deeper than that. And so much of it is, is almost philosophical to a point, beyond, you know, sweeping the floors, and you know, making sure your sinks are clean. And I think that’s a really important thing that any any lab or manufacturer can take away from this is, is taking that that GMP structure and that standard and saying, okay, not only do I need to meet these guidelines and requirements, but I also need to take every part of my business that I’m an expert in and see how these things can apply to each facet of what I’m doing.
Christian Tobias 32:00
Yeah, and honestly, just to piggyback a little bit more on it. Because a lot of people think that if everyone does GMP, well, then you’re not going to need, you know, Christian, you’re you’re not going to be around because we’re not going to need you anymore. But we’re still going to be around and oh yeah. And we would rather see that everyone is practicing GMP. And even in our, in our example, also gap, which is good agricultural practices, right, because as you’re taking flour, and people smoke, just the raw flour. There’s also good agricultural practices that they must follow. Basically, if we’re all manufacturing things to the highest standards of we possibly can, then we’re coming out with products that are going to be good for the consumer, right, as Alex says, like, the your first bite should be the same as your last bite if you’re if you if you’re consuming a product, and you should know that that product was made to the highest standards possible. And guess why RM three will still be around to do testing.
Alex Eisenberg 33:13
Yeah, and that’s a that’s sorry, it kind of caught me off guard and cracks me up when you said that just because that that thought process is is is just kind of funny. Because the reality is, there is no GMP without, without labs like yours, Christian, it just it doesn’t exist, you know, we have to have that, that third party, you know, outside of the fishbowl analysis of what you know, we’re doing as a manufacturer, you know, because like I said, you know, early on in the, in the conversation, it’s about letting experts be experts, that’s where success comes from. And there’s the you know, there’s plenty, plenty of work to go around for everybody. So I see a lot of manufacturers that think part of you know, part of this protocol is, like I said, sweep the floors, make sure the sinks and bathrooms are clean and everybody’s wearing a hairnet and you know now we’re going to add in a you know, cheap knockoff testing machine, we bought off Alibaba and everything’s going to be fine and we’re perfect now. And that’s just not not something that’s in reality, you need to you need your your goal as a, you know, in any conversation where you’re trying to get assistance or help, your goal should always be to be the dumbest person in the room, and let everyone else help you and be the expert in their field. So that just kind of caught me off guard a little bit. Well, if we’re all GMP that we don’t need labs anymore, now you’re crazy. Because we definitely need you know, we need that accountability. And, and a lot of that accountability comes from, you know, the partners that we work with and, and the feedback that we get from them, you know, seeing our materials and our samples and our products and you know, making sure that you know, anytime we’re we’re creating something we we’re not only following those As you know, very important cleanliness standards, I’m not in any way saying that those aren’t important, because of course they are. But we’re also following that, you know, philosophical set of standards that we’ve built when it comes to, you know, ethically procuring ingredients, ethically, manufacturing, you know, making sure that that we’re doing everything in in the best way possible. And, and to me, what a lot of that means is always above and beyond what the government says is safe. Because there’s, there’s a reality to, you know, manufacturing products, when it comes to, you know, a lot of the materials that are used, especially in in, you know, the packaging world, the idea of, you know, people say, and I see it every once in a while, and I’m like, that seems a little rough to be true. But they’ll say, you know, even our packaging is manufactured in the US very, very, very rare, very difficult to find a company manufacturing dropper tops here in the United States. And one of the interesting things that that we found through, you know, our career in in bettering our vetting process of companies, is we tested graduated droppers from, I think 10 companies that were all sourced from overseas. And, and out of all those graduated droppers, and for anyone who doesn’t know, it’s the, the dropper that goes in a in a, you know, tincture bottle that has the paint markings on it for what your dosage is. And I think only three out of the 10 is what it was did not contain trace lead in that paint that was on the droppers. So if the pH in your product that’s going in that bottle is wrong, it can then leach lead from the paint on a dropper. So to go back to, you know, kind of combine all the different elements of the questions that have been asked so far, in that one statement, you’ve now got, you need a r&d lab that can help you work through that problem. So you’re not pulling your hair out trying to figure out where this is coming from. And then you also need, you know, that GMP manufacturing facility that’s doing the vetting properly, so we can quickly narrow down what that issue is, and say, Okay, well, we know it’s not in the VG we know it’s not the citric acid, etc, etc. Because all those are tested, it’s got to be the bottle or the dropper. So it’s yeah, the idea that we’ll we’ll ever outgrow the need for for, you know, lab assistants in any way, as is, you know, maybe sometime a million years from now, we’ll figure it out. But it’s not coming anytime soon.
Christian Tobias 37:32
Yeah, yeah. And the bottom line is to if you’re not partnering with a manufacturer and a lab like Alex’s, and you’re trying to cut corners, these companies are taking huge risks when it comes to public safety. But the bottom line is the safety of your patients, and your consumers using your products should be of utmost importance. That’s that you shouldn’t even have to say that. But it also also speak to the occupational safety of your employees and your brand reputation to begin with. Right. So Alex had told me once in a in a conversation we had a little while ago, and for lack of a better so bad things in bad things out and it’s worth it. It’s not worth it.
Alex Eisenberg 38:20
Yeah, absolutely you can, you can get the most expensive paint job ever done on your car. But if the guy doing the Bondo and primer doesn’t do a good job, you’re never going to have a good paint job. And that is just the truth to all manufacturing, you either start with the right materials and the right process to come out with a good product or failures on the horizon. And, and the idea to take a risk, you know, to save three cents of dropper by getting them cheaper from a company that you haven’t vetted or tested, then, you know that that to me is just insane to put yourself at that much risk as a company to put you know, just like you said, Christian your employees at risk because they’re handling a million droppers a year while you know your your end client realistically is only handling the one. So I mean the idea to put yourself as a company, your employees and then your end customer all at risk over a couple pennies or over a lack of procedural guidance for your employees or over just a lack of of concern or ethical boundaries is just insane to me.
Adam Kulbach 39:24
Thanks that was really informative. I’m gonna skip
Alex Eisenberg 39:27
hitting or you’re hitting our triggers now. Yeah, we’re passionate that passion points you can call them where we get a little riled up.
Adam Kulbach 39:41
Well cool. How important is shelf life and the quality and consistency of a product?
Christian Tobias 39:47
I’ll let Alex take
Alex Eisenberg 39:48
that first. Shelf Life is monstrously important and shelf life. There. It’s a it is a very it is a very gray word when it comes to the consumers perception of shelf life. Because shelf life can mean a lot of things, shelf life can mean safe, you know, shelf life can just mean you can take this product and you won’t get sick. You know, that’s kind of the initial thought that I think people have when they think of shelf life, but in our industry specifically, you know, shelf life to me means a lot more than that, because it means not only the safety of the product, but also the efficacy of the product. And if not stored, and controlled and manufactured properly, you know, you can see massive, you know, drastic degradation in cannabinoids and terpenes to where you know, you can, you can have a product sitting on the shelf, and if it’s not manufactured properly and stored properly, in the you know, correct type of packaging, you can see you know, 50 60% degradation in the active ingredients and terpene profiles of a finished product. You know, one of the one of the things I see that makes me kind of cringe, whenever I see it is whenever I see, you know, manufacturers, you know producing things in, in packaging that isn’t UV resistant, or that packaging that is online aluminum, which are like the two biggest, you know, no no’s when it comes to cannabinoids, because it literally just damages the product. And you can have a, you know, 1000 milligram tincture bottle in a clear bottle sitting on a shelf, and, you know, six 812 months from from the day you bottle it, put the heat seal on it, it’s not going to make anybody sick, there’s nothing growing in it, there’s no mold, there’s nothing funky going on. But you just completely destroyed you know, 50 to 60% of the the cannabinoids that were put in the bottle. So you’ve now you know, completely lost the quality of the product, you’ve lost the the good end result for the customer, you’ve lost all your consistency. And, and for, you know, lack of better terminology, the product was safe, there was nothing wrong with it. So the shelf life must have been fine. So to me, the importance of shelf life goes so far beyond just you know what that standard thought of shelf life is. Because we’re not making cereal, you know, we’re not making you know, bread or something like that we’re making something that has to be a consumable product, that’s not going to hurt anyone, and it’s going to stay safe for a designated period of time that we can reliably say is the safety threshold of that product. And that product has to function, that product has to do a good job, you wouldn’t fly on an airplane with 18 months shelf life if the shelf life didn’t also cover the engines, you know that? So it’s, it’s, you know, kind of that that same thought process that, yeah, the product is going to be safe in 1215 18 months, but what have you done as a manufacturer, what have you done as a developer of a new product to ensure that that your cannabinoid potency is going to remain the same without you know, any degradation? What have you done to make sure that your terpene profiles are going to remain the same and the product is going to taste right and smell right? And have all the extra benefits of a you know, an entourage style product where you have all these wonderful benefits from all these, you know, active ingredients and cannabinoids and terpenes that you worked so hard to put into a quality finished product to let it you know expire in two months when your your shelf life should be 18. So I think for me, it’s it’s really that whole spectrum of you know, safety, of course, but quality of the product still has to still has to fit into your parameters have an expectation of shelf life when you’re when you’re building a product.
Adam Kulbach 43:32
Yeah, I’m curious. In there, you mentioned something about aluminum? How would that affect the product?
Alex Eisenberg 43:40
Yeah, so I am I’m not the scientists when it comes to the lab side of it, but the way it was explained to me by our chemists is that the aluminum has certain properties in it that can actually leach the cannabinoids and pull them out of suspension or out of you know, being mixed thoroughly into the product and then slowly deteriorate them and not allow them to remain at their original, you know, expected potency as far as the products concerned. So Christian I don’t know if you can explain that a little better than I can.
Christian Tobias 44:15
Probably not because once I’m not a scientist either but let me let me let me say when it comes to shelf life and and really when it comes to like let’s let’s take carts for example, which is a huge product line. Every manufacturer has it they fill their parts with distillate and you know, to tie it back to GMP and sourcing good good products right. Some carts aren’t bail built like other carts and we see a lot of leaching of lead and arsenic and cadmium into the distillate or into the product from the cart. Well, sometimes that doesn’t happen in the first week. Okay, so when we test it, oh, it’s okay. So then it goes out to the consumer without Product shelf life testing, you don’t know that in three months is that still? Does that zap products still not contain contaminants? Right? So, bottom line here in Colorado, they said, Okay, June 1, you must put a shelf life on your product. For a lot of the operators here in Colorado, they have been testing for the last six months for some, it caught them by surprise. And so now they can only say, this product is only good for the next two weeks, because that’s how long we’ve tested it for. Right? It also goes back to the point of maybe, as you’re manufacturing one of these and some of our operators, I know that they’ve gone ahead, and they have been testing for shelf life from the beginning. But maybe that’s something that everyone should start doing, instead of having to regulate now it’s regulated, you have to do it. But the bottom line is without this, I can’t tell you if that product will be good in six months, unless there’s been testing on it for that long.
Alex Eisenberg 46:11
Yeah, and that and that correlates into into just about any product. And my thought has always been, I’ve, you know, I’ve worked in a lot of different industries, where, you know, they were kind of wild west industries, when I first got involved in them. And then, you know, rules and regulations got put in place and more legislation and more guidance and more guidelines. And, you know, to go back to our conversation about you know, how do you determine a good lab? And how do you determine a good manufacturer, you know, biggest biggest red flag you could find is anybody who gets pissed off about new regulations that keep people safer, you don’t want to work with them. You you want to work with, you know, guys like Christian and his company, and guys like me and my company, where when a new regulation comes out, we’re you know, cheering and praising the regulation, because we know it’s going to weed out the bad actors, we know it’s going to start eliminating the people that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to, and putting in the extra effort. You know, I’m sure Christian that you guys are this way as well. But when we see something even remotely coming down the pipeline as a new regulation, you know, a year before we know, it’s even going to pass in, which is typically two years before, you know, it’s going to be in effect, we research it, we figure it out, and we implement it. Because if there’s a conversation around something that can make people safer, there’s, there’s, it’s a no brainer, you know, there’s no argument to be had, if you’re a good manufacturer, if you’re a good lab, if there’s something that can make us do it better, whether it’s more expensive or not, it’s the right thing to do. And for me, I gotta I gotta go home, I gotta sleep at night, you know, I gotta be able to walk in the door and sit down and eat dinner with my wife and kid and, and not feel like I’m, you know, a bad human being. And so for me, you know, that that ethics boundary is something that I take really seriously. And, you know, probably sometimes to a fault, I probably go above and beyond in a lot of ways, where, you know, it’s probably unnecessary, I probably didn’t need to wash my hands that many times throughout the process. But to me, it’s, you know, if we can do something safer if we can do something better, you know, if we can do something to create a better product, and it’s just worth it.
Adam Kulbach 48:14
Do you ever test the product before it’s dosed?
Christian Tobias 48:18
Yes, so we do a lot of that for our clients, I am sure that Alex does it too. But yeah, so we like to take the Undiagnosed product, and test it first. And then we will put in a spin, we’ll say we spiked the product with a certain amount of THC. And then we’ll go ahead and run the product to make sure that it comes out the way it’s supposed to be. But I’m sure Alex can probably talk about that a little bit more to as he’s the manufacturer.
Alex Eisenberg 48:51
Yeah, we do the same thing. Typically, when, when we’re pre testing things, we’re doing it on a raw ingredient basis. So that’s, that’s kind of more so the way we do it, rather than you know, because because what we’re you know, a lot of the things we’re manufacturing are, you know, complex bases that we’re creating, and then we’re adding the, you know, the cannabinoids or the active ingredients to it, what we’ll typically do is just test, you know, all the raw materials as they’re coming into the lab, you know, whether it’s, you know, protein bass or, you know, VG or MCT oil or, you know, some kind of, you know, lotion base or something like that, you know, anything like that we’re testing it as it comes in, because a lot of those ingredients combined with each other, and work together in different products, you know, kind of like if you imagine a restaurant, you know, they’re they’re typically they’ve got menu items that use, you know, multiple menu items that use the same ingredients. You know, it’s kind of the same way in manufacturing. We have a lot of products that utilize a lot of the same ingredients. So by testing those raw materials as soon as they come in, you know, we can be, you know, 100% positive that those materials are clean and safe and ready to use. And then we do our final testing at the end. Now, when we’re doing, you know, development phase, that’s a whole different story, because now you’ve got to focus on, you know, testing the products, testing the product in the stages, as you’re combining materials that maybe you’ve never combined before, you know, maybe you’ve never made something that had these exact active ingredient combinations in it, you know, maybe you’ve never made something where, you know, the pH is sitting at a specific level that that needs more attention needs to be addressed. So we’ll do a lot of testing like that, during the, the manual, or the development process, where, you know, we’re, we’re creating something new, that either we’ve never made before, or maybe it’s, you know, something that’s never been made before period. And now we’ve got to figure out what ingredients can go together, how they’re going to react with each other, you know, what’s, what’s this going to do in the bottle. You know, kind of like Christian said, it might not do it on day 123 Or month 123. Or maybe it won’t do it in six months, but maybe after 812 months, 15 months, you know, 18 months, now you’ve got a problem that’s arisen from combining these ingredients, because you didn’t do adequate testing, to make sure that ingredients were compatible, or that they’d be in, you know, they’d be compatible at the levels they’re set at. So So testing, you know, along the way, and pre dosing, you know, can can solve a lot of those problems, because now you’re again, you know, your focus isn’t divided, your focus isn’t divided between, okay, make this part good and make the cannabinoid content right and do this, nope, let’s focus on one variable. You know, I think we all remember that those, you know, stand up three, three panelboard science experiments we did, we’re kids, and they taught us very specifically, if you have too many variables at one time, it’s impossible to know what your problem is. So that’s, you know, definitely a good way to do that from a development and manufacturing standpoint is, you know, don’t even worry about the cannabinoids yet. Let’s get the base, right, you know, let’s make sure that base is solid and going to, you know, stand up to every, every scrutiny we need it to. And then we’ll worry about putting the cannabinoids in there. And then as I’m sure, as I’m sure Christian, probably has even more horror stories than I do, you know, working through different product development phases, you know, then you add in the cannabinoids, and now we got to start the whole thing over again, and make sure you know that we’re testing along the way. And, you know, testing once we’re, once we’re dosed once we’re in the packaging, you know, all the way to, you know, testing three months later, six months later, 12 months later, and then to go back to that GMP phase. Now, you got to catalogue all this information. Because if you don’t have a team that’s equipped to catalog this data and make something useful out of it, it’s, you know, you’re you’re in the same boat as you were if you didn’t do any of the testing.
Adam Kulbach 52:59
Okay, so what does homogenized mean?
Alex Eisenberg 53:04
I don’t think I could give you like the Webster definition. Off the top of my head. But But homogenized, you know, again, broad stroke basically means that all of the ingredients, or all of the parts of an equation that you’ve put together in a formula, when you’ve actually made the functional real life formula, it’s sitting in front of you, that gram per gram, will measure exactly the same, you know, whether it’s active ingredient, or, you know, preservatives, whatever the compound might be that you’re looking for that gram over gram, you know, if I send Christian, a 15 mil bottle, every milliliter that he pulls out and test is going to test exactly the same. That’s that’s the end result of homogenization is you know, completely and thoroughly dispersed. All of the ingredients evenly throughout the formulation.
Christian Tobias 53:59
Yeah, and basically, yeah, we like to say it’s to make it uniform, right? Yeah. Yeah, we, and even when we’re testing, we try to homogenize our samples. You, even if it’s raw flour, and things like that, but yeah, absolutely. Like, like Alex said. We just want to make sure that it’s consistent throughout the entire product.
Adam Kulbach 54:25
Okay, well, we’re just about out of time today. I’d like to thank you guys very much. You’ve been great guests and great fun of knowledge. And it’s nice to meet some good guys in the industry.
Alex Eisenberg 54:40
There’s a few of us. Yeah, there’s a couple, I think. Two or three on the phone right now.
Adam Kulbach 54:48
Okay, well, thanks again, and have a great rest of your day. To do to you guys. Have a good weekend. Stay warm. Thank you for listening, everybody. For more information about our podcasts, or to add suggestions or if you want to be a guest on our show, check out the description below. Or please call us at 844 High yield, that’s 844 H AI, why i e, LD, and also check out our website at higher yields consulting.com. There you’ll find all sorts of great information and all of our previous podcast episodes. We hope that you’ll join us for our next podcast coming up very soon. So until then, thank you very much. Have a great day.