High Spirits

#022 - What You Thought You Knew About Terpenes w/ Max Koby & Dr. Oswald of Abstrax

December 14, 2023 AnnaRae Grabstein and Ben Larson Episode 22
High Spirits
#022 - What You Thought You Knew About Terpenes w/ Max Koby & Dr. Oswald of Abstrax
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Are you ready to unlock the fascinating science of terpenes in cannabis and hemp? Hosts Ben Larson and AnnaRae bring the latest cannabis industry updates and delve into an engaging discussion with our esteemed guest from a leading terpene research company. We unravel the enigma that is terpenes, examining their potential benefits, their impact on your body, and the crucial role they play in crafting the cannabis experience. This is not just about getting high; it's about understanding the profound connection between nature and experience.

Our journey takes us into the heart of cannabis research, with our erudite guests Max  Koby, CEO, and Dr. Oswald, Director of R&D at Abstrax Tech. We tackle topics that are on the cutting edge of cannabis science, from challenging the notion that terpenes alone define the cannabis experience to probing into volatile sulfur compounds and the importance of shelf stability testing. It's all about breaking the mold, diving into the unknown, and navigating the tricky currents of the cannabis industry with courage and curiosity.

But we don't stop there. We understand the importance of making this information accessible to the average consumer. With the help of our guests, we present a fresh approach to understanding and communicating cannabis effects. We discuss innovative metrics for aromatic qualities, study how terpenes can enhance your mood and overall experience, and stress the importance of educating consumers about specific terpenes in products. So come along, join us on this journey, and discover how terpenes continue to reshape the world of cannabis. This isn't just an episode; it's a revelation.

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Speaker 1:

Hey everybody, welcome to High Spirits. I'm Ben Larson, and with me, as always, is the smartest co-host I could ever hope for. N Array, grabstein, n Array, how are you doing today?

Speaker 2:

Happy to be here. As always, this is my favorite Thursday activity.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely and always my favorite. That's why I interrupt my vacation to do it. I'm not at home in my studio, so as you might be able to tell if you're watching the video. But yeah, it's been a relaxing week. I'm happy to dive back into the business though. What's been happening in your world.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know, it feels like even though it's, I guess, technically it's the holidays like work isn't slowing down. I've got a bunch of stuff cooking for 2024 that I'm working on and I've been exploring a bunch of really interesting M&A opportunities in different states and, yeah, it's been good. You know cannabis doesn't sleep, so stay in busy for us and I'm just excited to wrap the year and start executing on all of the inspiration I have for next year.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I don't know. It is exciting to be going into the new year. I feel like this is the first year in a while where I'm truly optimistic and hopeful about the new year. I feel like the last several years have been roller coasters and there's been some good years in there. I think the positivity and run up in 2021 was feeling good for a little while, but I think it was fleeting and by the end of the year there was that impending doom where everyone's like selling, like sell off stocks and all that, and so I'm actually feeling pretty good going into 2024.

Speaker 2:

Do you think the roller coaster is over in this industry? I think you're sorely mistaken.

Speaker 1:

I didn't say over, I'm just saying, at this moment in time, feeling okay, feeling good.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, I think it's about mindset. You know, and I just had a birthday a few days ago and part of what I was reflecting on as part of my birthday is just about how important it is for us to care of ourselves, and you listen to this podcast. You hear me talk about this all the time. It's really important, but I think that, as business leaders and as entrepreneurs and as people in cannabis which is just like a complex, can be highly stressful space like if we are taking good care of ourselves, then we can face the roller coasters of what is ahead and do it with some amount of optimism and clarity. And that's really what I'm, that's what my intentions are about.

Speaker 1:

I love it. Well, happy birthday. I think I may have missed that one. I'm a bad co-host. It doesn't feel that important anymore.

Speaker 2:

You know, like the years keep stacking.

Speaker 1:

Tell me.

Speaker 2:

When there's a zero on it, I will. There was not, so we're good there.

Speaker 1:

Good, good.

Speaker 2:

I think things, things are, things are happening in cannabis. Like there's so much action going on. It was just little things, you know. Like I just got an email from the regulators in Minnesota that just decided that they're going to start sending out a monthly newsletter because they're starting to take action of how to figure out how to open Minnesota. And I just got that in my email box yesterday and I thought hell yeah, you know like another state figuring out how to open businesses, and that's a positive thing.

Speaker 1:

Interesting. I've been so focused on what's been going on up there with the hemp market because they legalized the low doses of hemp and then it's like the legal cannabis is kind of being wedged in between a preexisting medical program and some legal hemp. It's been the most interesting kind of roll out of a legal framework.

Speaker 2:

I totally agree, and we actually have an episode scheduled in January with two incredible lawyers, lobbyists, policymakers from Minnesota that are going to come on and talk to us all about it. So we will get to dive into that. But in the meantime, the newly formed Minnesota OCM does say they will start accepting applications in early 2025, folks, so get ready.

Speaker 1:

Great, that's over a year away. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that, like these states have similar acronyms for their cannabis management bodies, because, like now, I'm going to start getting it confused between Minnesota and New York, and I don't know, it's different and it's the same everywhere you go.

Speaker 2:

Well, it's hard for you to say the words New York and not just give me a minute to also say that there's been some big news out of New York as well, and we haven't had a chance to dive too deep. So exciting stuff in New York. There is now an opportunity for all of those card licensees over 400 of them that were stuck in an injunction to move forward. So the OCM and the lawsuit against them is now settled and all of those social equity applicants that were in the pipeline are able to move forward. Apparently, there's going to be another 20 dispensaries opening before the end of the year in New York state, which is great news. And the other piece of news is that six out of the 10 existing ROs, which the registered organizations that have owned the medical businesses, are going to transition to adult use at the end of the year and start with one retail store and wholesale business. All right, and those are some of the big MSOs that everybody's heard of. So, yeah, action in New York, I think people are starting to.

Speaker 1:

It's actually a year later, after when they celebrated the opening of New York, that we're actually starting to feel some of the opening of New York.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and it's still TBD. Yeah, good, you know it's still TBD, but we'll keep talking about it, and let's talk about what we're going to talk about today.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'm super excited about this show. We're going to be talking about terpenes, everything we know or thought we knew. Just diving it into some of the new science with one of the companies that is just at the top of the game. I know they've been heavily invested and involved in the cannabis ecosystem in California for a long time. That gives really interesting routes to respecting the strains that are coming directly from the plant and recreating some of those experiences. You know just we've worked closely with abstracts over the years through the work that we do at Vertosa and just, yeah, really excited to dive into this because, as we know, creating the experiences that the plant has to offer isn't always extremely straightforward. Sometimes it just looks like marketing claims that are unsubstantiated.

Speaker 1:

So excited to dive in and Aray who do we have for the show today?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So the folks that we have coming on are two of the key players from abstracts, and the first person is the CEO and co-founder, max Kobe, and he leads the company, which he tells me is a botanical flavor house, which I just love. And at the heart of abstracts is a collaborative approach of partnering with cultivators and manufacturers and brands, who are all contributing to the industry's growth. They are developing globally relevant products to elevate consumer experiences at the company, and Max has got a really great perspective. Super excited to bring him on. So welcome Max.

Speaker 2:

And then with Max today is Dr Ian Oswald, who heads up the company's research and development, and he is the one behind a really exciting study. That's going to be the beginning of our conversation today. One of the things that I was super impressed about in reading your bio, dr Oswald, is that you were recently awarded the prestigious L Soli Award in cannabis chemistry for the discovery of a new class of volatile sulfur compounds responsible for gassy, funky aromas produced by cannabis. This is really cool stuff, you guys. So really proud and humbled to bring these guys on today and thank you for joining us.

Speaker 4:

Hey, and it's going to be an amazing 2024, ben, I feel it.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, yeah, and look, we're matching, are we matching? I look like I'm wearing my abstracts gear.

Speaker 2:

So, Max, you think the roller coaster's over too? Everyone's just smooth sailing, oh no, no, no, we're not.

Speaker 4:

We're here for it. Are you kidding me? That's what we all signed up for.

Speaker 2:

Exactly, that's the good stuff, right.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I mean, I feel the pain for a lot of the brands. California has been a struggling market for a long time. It's nice to see other markets opening up and starting to figure out their compliance as well, but it's an interesting checkerboard out there right now.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think it's the normalization of the roller coaster and actually well, having the privilege of running a company that can withstand the ups and downs of the roller coaster. I know we've probably both or all have been in stages of running a company where some of those downs can really be the end for many companies. And if you do get to a certain level where you can absorb them and still stay optimistic that you're going to go towards another peak and that generally it's oscillating up into the right, then I don't know, it's a good place to be and I think 2024 might feel like that for a number of companies that have withstood the last couple of years.

Speaker 4:

I've been saying the last few years it's getting thinner and thinner around, the stronger survive. We're all going to come out the other end so much stronger, and every year we keep saying that.

Speaker 2:

And one of the things that I've seen as the industry has gone through struggles is that a lot of companies have focused on core operational capacity and capabilities and have stopped doing research and stopped doing innovation work. And the reason that we got you guys on the show today is because you recently published a study and it's not the first of the studies that you've put out. You clearly are investing a lot in R&D, but specifically that was covered by the Green Market Report with this headline in their article that said New studies says terpenes are overrated, and I thought what I want to learn more about that and so I want to hear a little bit about before we jump into the study, which we are. But just overall kind of like your perspective about investing in R&D and innovation and what that means to you. You know it's interesting.

Speaker 4:

so our customers once told me, max, you guys have invested a ton of time and energy in developing the best flavors for inhalable products, but what are you going to do to invest in the industry and our partnerships? And at our very core, when we started this company, we knew is you know, we wanted to study cannabis because we wanted to understand what made it different, because that's how we can help empower a brand, differentiate their products on a shelf. We felt that if we could develop a platform to create these memorable experiences and these amazing flavors terpime-based flavors modeled after cannabis, flowers or fruits that we love that that would empower us to invest more energy in the industry, into the research that needs to happen. And as we fast track through the evolution of this thing, as we've gotten more entrenched with our partners unfortunately, they've had to right size and divest a lot from innovation, so we end up becoming more of an innovation partner for our clients, which is our heart and soul. That's what is our lifeblood, that's what wakes us up in the morning, is developing value, innovation, making new discoveries, figuring out the complexity of cannabis. We love cannabis. That's why we're here right and to truly help the industry elevate as a whole and understand what makes a cannabis experience unique is our job. Right To be able to capture that experience in a bottle, to reproduce that in a finished product is the result, and so for us, we've had this privilege to attract some amazing individuals like Dr Oswald and others, who have collectively come together to share this passion and this journey together. We've been fortunate enough, through some success in the industry and from our customers supporting us by buying our products, to help us reinvest that money into our research, and so today we very proudly share that we're the only flavor house that has a licensed cannabis research lab in the heart of California, working with the top cultivators in the industry to partner with them, to understand what they're growing and why that makes it unique.

Speaker 4:

When Shcherbinski is growing gelato and says this is something special here, I wanna quantify for him what makes it special. When I go to the East Coast and pick up some cannabis and come back and smoke it with them, it tells me there's gelato in there. I'm genuinely intrigued to know. Well, what is it that he's smelling and tasting? Those and in typical flavor fragrances? These guys, these cultivators that are developing these strains, their noses are highly tuned to develop these sensorial experiences in their cannabis. Cannabis is one of the fastest metabolizing plants. You can create all these amazing flavors, aromas and experiences of cannabis. And we're doing it and we've been doing it, but we're blindly doing it. We don't know so.

Speaker 2:

Cool. Thank you so much. Well, so let's dive in. I wanna hear from Dr Oswald and I wanna hear about the study. I wanna turn the mic over to you. Talk to us about the study, what you focused on, how you approach the research, why you undertook the research. Give us the overview.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So I mean why we undertook the research kind of goes into what Max is saying is that one of our core functionalities is to understand the plant on a deep level so we can basically recreate those experiences through the chemistry that the plant creates. And so in order to do that, you need to have as fine a detail, a picture of what is the chemistry as possible. And so I think a lot of people kind of have thought that terpenes in general when people say terpenes a lot of times they're referring to probably the overall aroma of cannabis. But really terpenes are just like a class of compounds that cannabis produces. They're usually the highest concentration within the plant, so, which is why testing labs can test for them pretty easily and they do routinely put them on COAs and that sort of thing. But if you start to kind of look at a lot of different varieties that have a lot of different aromas, what you end up seeing is that terpene profiles look very similar between vastly different smelling plants or varieties, I should say. And so in our recent study that we did, that was looking into basically all the chemistry beyond terpenes, which is all very low concentration stuff. It makes it more difficult to detect. It's harder to quantify, but we've invested heavily in instrumentation to do that. What we found is that basically there's fairly clear correlation between certain chemicals individual chemicals in some cases and specific aromatic nuances that terpenes just don't produce period. And so when you look at all these COAs, that might look very similar.

Speaker 3:

And so in our paper we had grape pie cross dosy dough, which was rated as the most sweet variety. So we did a sensory study. Basically people just kind of smelt all this stuff and rated it from zero to 100. Is it really really sweet? Is it really really savory? Where does it kind of lay? And what we found is that if you look at just the terpene profiles between the highest ranked and the lowest ranked, which was grape pie dosy dough, and the GMO, their terpene profiles were almost identical.

Speaker 3:

Yet nobody in their right mind, even an untrained user just at a dispensary, would say, yeah, those smell similar, they don't at all. And so that was the first inkling for us that, okay, there's obviously more chemistry going on, and we were aware of it because we were developing products for our company to sell and that sort of thing ahead of time. But we thought this is really important information for the general public and the industry to be aware of. So we decided, you know what, we'll publish this versus keep a trade secret or something that some people might do, because we think it's really important that people understand that, yes, terpenes do matter, but they're not the end all be all at all in many cases when it comes to the unique aromatic qualities of a certain product, and so I'll just, if it's okay, guys, I'll go ahead and just share this slide to kind of help explain how we did this kind of from a schematic viewpoint. Can you guys see this slide?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and just for the people listening, why don't you describe what we're looking?

Speaker 3:

at here For sure. So in our manuscript, when we were first procuring samples for this, you know, the first thing was we wanted to make sure that we had a good idea about what is the wide breadth of aromas that people produce right in different varieties. How wide can that be? And so we talked to industry experts we worked with 710 labs on this, used some of their varieties and then local you know folks around LA, socal about kind of like what out there on the market kind of spans this what we describe as aroma spectrum. So on one side we have very, very sweet varieties that would contain aromatic notes that are fruity, berry, tropical citrus, that sort of thing, to more prototypical which that would be things like OG or maybe Jack Hare, that you know that they're not super, super sweet but they're not super, super savory either. They kind of just kind of your classical cannabis aroma is just slightly different. And then you have the what we define as the savory side of the spectrum, and so on that side we have things that smell like garlic, they smell like onion, they're elacious, they smell chemically, right, you know ChemDog and 710 Chem would definitely be some of those. And so what we did is we first partition kind of. We created this scheme to partition the aromatic qualities for a sensory study and what we found is that basically we did get a very good you know kind of breadth as far as the aromatic qualities go. We had some very, very highly sweet ones, based on the sensory notes, and very, very savory ones and a few in the middle as well.

Speaker 3:

And so when we started to look at the chemistry and so shown here on this graph, below this schematic, you know, I have these two question marks on the sweet side and the savory side as far as their chemistry goes, because everybody's focused on the prototypical kind of section within this scheme, and so those would be monoturpeans and monoturpenoids, sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpenoids. So when people talk about the aroma of cannabis, they're almost always speaking about these sort of compounds that include limonene, the pineen, mircene et cetera. But what we, like I said earlier, when you look at the from a statistical standpoint, if you look at the kind of the terpium profiles on a case-to-case basis between varieties, what you find is that a lot of those kind of look similar even though the aromas are very different. And so the question was you know, what does differentiate the sweet varieties from prototypical and then the savory varieties from prototypical or sweet, and so that's where we ended up going. And so, to give you guys kind of an idea about why this is, why was this so difficult or why was this, why has it taken somebody so long to kind of do this? So I think there's a few things there.

Speaker 3:

I think one access to really good products is key. We were using rosin, ice, hash rosin from really good suppliers in particular because for the sample matrix, it usually has higher PPM of these sort of compounds, so their concentrations are higher, makes it easier for us to detect them. But the other thing is that the compounds beyond terpenes are an extremely low concentration. You know, usually if we're talking PPM, it'll be definitely below one PPM, if not 0.1 PPM. So very low concentrations. Yet what we found is that these compounds, many of these, correlate with the aromatic qualities much more than the terpenes do, and so once we started seeing these correlations, we were able to relate that back to the sensory and the chemical data. We were able to relate those back to each other. We were able to basically say like, yeah, these flavorants are what drive some of these key aromatic qualities, and so you can see here that you know on the Sankey diagram that cannabinoids always dominate, right, it's THCA is what's biosynthesized by the plant. It's always in the highest concentration. There's other stuff in there, but the aroma chemistry that we're focused on is this tiny sliver of this diagram, and so that's one of the reasons why people haven't reported these before is because they are difficult to see, and so we are using really unique instrumentation to see them, and so you know this is kind of jumping to the end, but what we ended up finding is that there's key non-terpenoid compounds that drive many of these sort of unique aromatic qualities within cannabis, and so these range from esters, they range from aldehydes.

Speaker 3:

We found an entirely new class of volatile sulfur compounds, so we refer to them in the papers Tropical Volatile Sulfur Compounds, to differentiate them from the previously reported ones we did in 2021, which were the Prenylated Volatile Sulfur Compounds, which the Prenylated ones contribute gaseous aromas, gaseous and skunky aromas. The Tropical Volatile Sulfur Compounds, which are chemically distinct, they contain this threomercaptohexyl functional group. They produce completely different aromas. They're very tropical, they're citrusy, grapefruit, and so what we found is a lot of the varieties that people really like these days, which are, you know, lemonade strains, guava, mimosa, tangy, etc. A lot of those kind of very heavy fruit-centric sort of varieties will contain these sort of tropical VSCs, and so you can have them in very small concentrations. But if they're there it'll completely divert the aroma of what. You might look at the terpene profile and say, oh, this might be spicy because it's karyophiline rich, or it might be kind of musky because it's myrcine rich. But if you have these compounds in there and even tiny concentrations it'll drive those aromas towards something that's very, very fruity or sort of tropical.

Speaker 3:

And so you know, on the other end of the spectrum, the savory side, what we found, there's two compounds that are chemically really unique in the context of cannabis. And you know it's fascinating that we find these because these compounds have implication, they're the core functional group of many biologically relevant compounds, and so those include scatol and then indol. Indol is the core functional group of many compounds found in nature. It's in the compound melatonin, it's in tryptophan, it's in psychedelic drugs such as psilocybin, lsd, dmt. You know it's the core functional group within those sort of really interesting compounds. And so here's cannabis, for whatever reason, producing not only indol which kind of gives a funkiness to the plant. Overall it's kind of described as mothbolly. It's aroma, but also scatol, and scatol is probably one of the most interesting because, as the name implies scatol, this compound was actually first discovered and it's implicated in human feces. The aroma of human feces.

Speaker 2:

And so basically, if you've ever smelled a portapotty.

Speaker 3:

If you've ever smelled a portapotty or an airplane toilet or anything you know your own toilet at home you're more than likely smelling some amount of scatol, and for whatever reason, I don't know, we don't know why, but cannabis produces this compound in very specific varieties and those varieties are always biased, or nearly always biased. It always depends on kind of what the other chemistry is that's there. But to that savory side. And so what we found, by doing some sort of internal reverse engineering of take a flower profile and then add scatol with and without it to understand how does it aromatically change it, it was immediately obvious that this compound adds that really aggressive sort of gas that GMO has that chem varieties often have, and it's really crazy.

Speaker 3:

So you know, in some cases, you know I've heard people say I've smelled cannabis that smells like poop. Well, more than likely it's probably this compound that's in there. But it also it's kind of a chameleon where, depending on what the other chemistry is around it. So these other sort of flavorants and even terpenes, you know they can modulate, it can modulate what those aromas are, and so it's really fascinating stuff. Because you know, we weren't expecting to see these sort of compounds, these heterocycles is what they're called, but they're there and they're hugely impactful on the aroma. A lot of people are kind of from our internal sensory experiments. I would say scatol is very divergent and whether people prefer it or not, it seems to be very polarizing, which kind of makes sense to me, right, just based on.

Speaker 4:

I've heard it more before I knew I love smoking. Creepy trains, yeah, most people would. Maybe that would unravel why you might feel different when you know some people report, like myself, when you smoke GMO makes me feel different, yeah.

Speaker 3:

So so, and I'll cover that in a second guys, so I'll just show a few more slides just and I'll describe these for the audience.

Speaker 2:

Let's wait for one second.

Speaker 2:

I think, it's to do a little bit of just like big picture summary of what you just said, because there's some big stuff here and I think, at the most basic level, this concept that you realize that a number of strains that are fundamentally different for any human to smell have almost identical terpene profiles is just such like a big aha moment, like of course there's something else there and that makes a ton of sense, and and I just I wonder how you think about this in terms of of like we see all these products that are so terpene forward and and so like how are. How do we start using this new information to start thinking about these strains or product development a different way?

Speaker 1:

And before you answer that, if I could just piggyback on it really quick, because my head's going to explode if I don't say it's as if you could touch just on the volatility of these compounds a little bit as a comparative terpenes, because I know people come to you guys for consistency and flavor profiles and all that, and as someone who works kind of further down on supply chain, we're worried about incorporating agreement. Even getting THC to remain stable in an infused beverage, so to speak, is challenging. So like doing so with terpenes and then also now with these new new compounds, like how should we start thinking about that? So it's kind of a those a big two part question related.

Speaker 1:

I promise it's related.

Speaker 3:

I'll start with yours, ben, because I already forgot the first question, sorry, but okay. So volatility. So that's a great question and actually you know the volatility of especially these flavorants in comparison to the terpenes and specifically the volatile sulfur compounds in particular. Many of those are very volatile. So if you ever have really fresh cannabis and you have like an OG or a really Mario's gelato right and it's super gassy, what you'll notice is that gassy aroma tends to kind of subside, probably more quickly than others. And the reason that is precisely because of volatility.

Speaker 3:

And the key driver within the gassy aroma of cannabis is Prenylthiol and Prenylthioacetate. Those two compounds are extremely kind of skunky gassy and they are the key components there. They also have very high volatilities. Prenylthiol in particular. Its volatility, from what I remember, is almost four times greater than that of myrcine. So you can imagine that this compound that's really important but in low concentration it diffuses away very, very easily because it does have that volatility kind of issue.

Speaker 3:

I would say, and that's also the reason why cannabis facilities kind of have this issue sometimes with odor control. And this compound and Prenylthioacetate, these two in particular are so volatile and diffuse. They just get everywhere so quickly. If you open up a bag of good flour and somebody's sitting in the office over, they might smell it. This is what you're smelling. You're not smelling the terpenes, you're smelling this. So it is definitely an issue when it comes to kind of like product development, obviously, and also the intrinsic cannabis products on the market, like flour extracts, et cetera. They're important in that case too right, because people really enjoy those aromas. I would say it's somewhat the same with some of these other VSCs that we discovered recently. So the thremer, captohexanol, the hexalacetate those are also more volatile than some of these other compounds. So, yeah, so that's definitely something to think about, for sure for all types of cannabis products.

Speaker 4:

And then just to answer the question on the downstream products, I mean beer. A lot of hops have similar volatile compounds in there. That's why you want to consume a beer closer to its borne on manufacturing date because it does lose some of the crispness, some of the volatile aromas settle down in that beer and so it is important to treat these things just like you're treating your cannabis, and we've dealt some encapsulation methods to utilize some of these compounds and beverages to encapsulate the aroma. But certainly making sure that you're adhering to Best Buy dates is important in doing some shelf stability testing on them.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you both are in. Oh god, Sorry, I already got it.

Speaker 2:

Are there certain form factors where these compounds are going to be able to be more stable, like maybe less stable in a beverage compared to a vape card or something like that?

Speaker 4:

Well, really bring it back to even the cannabis. So in one thing that you said, anna, is the impact of the study like the high level, right. So one part is the regulatory benefits right, we have regulators that are making emotional improvements in California, michigan, other states say you can't have flavors in cannabis, and we have now have a peer reviewed publication that was featured on the cover of ACS that says no, these exotic flavors that exist in other fruits and sweets actually do exist in cannabis right. So, high level, we now can prove that these flavors do naturally occur in cannabis. We can utilize these in our flavoring systems. Second is how does it impact the experience of these products? And then the third is the product advancement here. But even in the product advancement, where I'm going is we can now start to better educate consumers. We can now help empower cultivators on phenohunting, the specific attributes that they're looking for to differentiate their cannabis experience. It's stability, testing of the cannabis itself, and so we've gotten to apply a lot of this technology we developed to help advance our customers and projects out there. Like just simply looking at cannabis and if gas is a desirable attribute of cannabis, which it is and if you're doing a great job. Hopefully you have border control problems in your facility, right? What we found with Mario's cannabis is how to tighter nudge structure then compared to maybe like an SFVOG, and maybe they both started off with a similar gassy level, which Mario's was gassier, but let's just say they start off with a similar gassy level. The denser nudge structure is going to encapsulate those aromas better than something that has a looser nudge structure. So just the headspace alone makes a difference.

Speaker 4:

The form factor of the product makes a difference. We like to treat these as fresh cannabis ingredients because chemically identical compounds. We take a lot of care in our main process. So certainly, and there's no additives, there's no preservatives in these things. So as far as form factors, a lot of customers utilize these compounds in oils, distillates, concentrates. That encapsulates the aroma pretty well.

Speaker 4:

But even a vape pen that you have it's a bottle of wine, at least has a cork in it. You know, come on, there is a degradation curve here. So you know, until we start taking better care of our products and making sure that we're trying to preserve the integrity of what goes into them, then we're going to have a certain level of degradation of the flavor and aroma profile. So we could do a better job by being cognizant of the headspace in our packaging, making sure that they're air tight. Obviously in beverages we can do some encapsulation methods for gummies and for beverages to make sure that that experience is more consistent. But there's a lot of factors that play into the handling and manufacturing of the products, which is why the guys are doing it good or putting a lot of time and effort into the supply chain and their customer experience and making sure that their products shine.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, one of the one of the big things that we've been working on in the lab lately has been in oxygen ingress of just various packaging types, just in the beverage category. Right, it's just like you have your PET bottles, you have your cans, your bottles. You have different enclosures, different. You know XO lids versus, you know typical limit of can lid and each one of these I don't, I don't know if any of them I mean glass is pretty, pretty resilient, but most of them are letting in some level of oxygen, especially when child resistance comes into play and that impacts not only the TAC but also, like the, the, the volatile compounds.

Speaker 4:

Fun fact for you, ben. We did such a. We are so happy with the results from the analyzing, doing the 2D and 3D analysis of complex botanicals that the question then became well, once you extract all this and use it in a flavoring and you put it into a beverage, how does that change?

Speaker 1:

Yes, yeah, what happens? How does it change?

Speaker 4:

How does it change? And in order to answer that question, we literally had to build the same level of innovative technology, which is groundbreaking technology. There's very few people in the world who have this capability and the team to run it. We developed all our own assays methodologies, the technology to do this, our own standards to do this, that we then develop the same equipment for beverage analysis so that we can understand from the flour to the finished product and everything in between. How does this affect the product and the consumer experience? So if you want to dive deeper into the, you know 500 plus aromatics and how they're changing over time with different types of packaging, and you want to pair that with a sensory, that's something we can definitely help out with in the future.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, that's exciting stuff, as long as you don't recruit Dr Harold away from me.

Speaker 4:

I wanted to be a cheerleader over there. That's right.

Speaker 2:

Interesting. I'd say that, like we've talked on the show about kind of the issue around potency, inflation and and and THC being a currency for consumers and a lot of of the insider industry conversation has been about alright well, we need to try to figure out a way to help the consumer to understand terpenes more so that they're not so focused on the THC percentage, and that has been challenging in and of itself. It's like all these different terpenes with different names and unclear function on the other side and how it works in an array.

Speaker 3:

I'll mention that. I think part of the reason that that hasn't necessarily been super successful is precisely because the terpenes don't dictate some of the most desired aromatic qualities. So what's the point of having Lymeen on there if Lymeen is not the key driver for those tangy notes? Right, and so that's.

Speaker 2:

That's kind of the broader implication here from my perspective so that's what I want to know is like so how, how do we add this other layer of complexity? Is this something that the consumer needs to worry about, or is this something more that product creators should be thinking about as they're formulating a consumer experience, like who needs this information?

Speaker 3:

I would say yeah, I would say everybody would benefit from this, from the top down, from the cultivator, from the breeders to the cultivators, to the extractors for QC, all the way to the to the consumers. And so I'll mention the consumer side kind of my vision for how these could be useful. And we're already kind of doing this internally for some of our, our customers. So we don't want to just data dump you know 60, 70 new compounds onto the consumer. Like you just said, the terpenes stuff hasn't even necessarily been super successful so far. Right, and I just mentioned maybe one of the reasons for that.

Speaker 3:

But you know, we can't just keep adding more levels of complexity, because it's already complex and people probably aren't even trying anymore. Right, it's already, it's already there's already too much going on a label. So what we've done is we've taken this complicated information and we've basically created key, what we just call metrics that describe a certain aromatic quality that people really actually care about. So a few examples of those the first and probably most important one, I would argue, is what we call the gas factor, and so the gas factor is a quantification of the compounds that we know contribute to the gaseous aroma of cannabis and then standardized to a scale, when we paired it with sensory, from zero to 100. So now, instead of somebody going to buy a product and they enjoy that aroma and they want the gaseous flower out there, they don't have to go and look at a you know a package and it says parental file 0.002 micrograms per milligram.

Speaker 3:

Like that means nothing to a consumer yeah but if you standardize that from zero to 100 and, it's true, based on the chemistry and the sensory that you paired it to, well, now you can actually give them something that's way easier to digest. And so if a consumer enjoys this aroma, if they have two products in their hands and one has a gas factor of, let's say, a 25 and the other 92, I can guarantee you that they would go with that one, or they might buy both to see. Well, let's just see what this is all about, right, but the point being is we can now we're actually actively working on simplifying this complex information that hopefully will get into the hands of like testing labs, and we're doing a bunch of method development on one DGC that testing labs typically use to incorporate these sort of, you know, simplified metrics for complex chemistry onto onto consumer packaging. And so I mean, personally, I think that would be much more useful than having you know how much limonene or carry off lane there is on there. To me, that's well all.

Speaker 3:

All cannabis has a lot of those, right, those are always that within the top five terpenes, right. But if we can have, like a haze factor which we've developed, a gas factor that we've developed, we have an exotic factor that kind of correlates with the really, really sweet aromas of cannabis. We're developing right now a tangy factor which is going to be the heavy citrus notes, and then lastly, the chem factor which is, you know, basically driven by scat all. But if you can show information that's relevant, as far as I would say those are five of the biggest aromas that people really are know of and are interested in, that'll be much more helpful for a consumer in, you know, making a decision. Then you know some sort of tiny number that's printed on the side of a box, like they are right now with with limonene or other terpenes.

Speaker 2:

I love I work with. I work with a group that does a lot of breeding and and when you come up with a new strain, there's this whole process of like what should we name this so that I can inspire the consumer to you to actually choose the product? Like how do we come up with a fun name with this new cross? That's going to maybe help people to understand some of what you're saying.

Speaker 4:

But if I was able to just be like oh, that one has a high tangy flavor, that's for me I love that one's got, I mean but but they could caps to encapsulate that, though, because in the system that Ian described, I mean, it's the first ever sensory quantification software application that's tied into a very sophisticated analytical people equipment is have literally digitized.

Speaker 4:

You know Shrivensky's nose and Josh D's nose from, and Jack hairs nose all these guys who know what they know. We have asked them to participate in our sensory panels to validate our equipment, or analytical equipment, which then validates their nose, and so this is the first time in history that we can unravel this highly complex plant to standardize the flavors, aromas and potential experiences that they impart on consumers, and the system that we developed called called turplytics. Ultimate goal is to be able to pioneer this research and empower the testing labs with the same software, with our testing standards, so that we can start delivering this information a more digestible manner for the consumer, and that's our end goal continue empowering the industry through this data and how to interpret that data. So that's that's big part of it.

Speaker 1:

So so one of the so we've been talking a lot about, about like the flavors and aromas, but you know the term that I love that describes what you guys do is functional flavors, and we all know that terpenes have been associated with, with the effects of the canvas plant, and I'm just going to bring many comment back up from from the LinkedIn crowd. So can you talk about terpenes and other secondary metabolites changing the effects of delta nine? I'm going to put a big asterisk on there because I have this unfounded belief that I'm going to be able to. I have this unfounded belief that, you know, smoking versus vaping, versus consuming an edible with with these different compounds, creates different effects which might be an entire another hour of discussion. So I'm going to let you guys take this one, the direction that you want. Like, how do we think about, about effects on delta nine from well, I want to let.

Speaker 4:

Ian, you could dive as deep as you want into this. I'm just going to add a few comments here. One I don't think this, not this study, null and void terpenes. Terpenes have a long history of documented benefits to the consumer and you know, dr Avery Gilbert is this world renowned sensory psychologist. He's on our advisory board, he runs our sensory panel. We do a number of studies with him to quantify the mood impressions of the mood impressions of terpenes and these flavorants in finished products. Okay, so we have a lot of data that we've generated to validate what we're talking about here, the what.

Speaker 4:

When I ask him about the range of effects that we are seeing different product applications using the same terpenes, I would come back to you and say why are we just talking about delta nine? Because terpenes and these aromatics impart a Impression on your mood in a direction, with or without delta nine, and we have proven that. And it doesn't matter if you're doing a beer trial, a delta eight product or delta nine, your company will call me and ask me if I drug them, you know, and ask me three times because it makes them feel a different way. It could be elevating and that has to do with. Maybe the terpenes that you're consuming in a beer might be heavier in your scene and maybe that makes you feel a little sluggier when you start introducing more citrus terpenes and valenciin and things like that, limonines, those might be more uplifting to a consumer, right? And so I just say that. And then the second thing I reference is you know something that stuck with me about what Avery said, and it was good advice for the industry. Think about this as aromatherapy 2.0, right, aromatherapy.

Speaker 4:

You go into Bath Body Works and they have a sleepy lavender oil and they will call out a specific terpene on there. It's using Linole and it's a featured product. Yeah, there's a whole bunch of essential oils, a whole bunch of terpenes that exist in that, but they're calling out one specific feature. It's an ingredient story, and so certainly, brands can harness the energy by knowing what's in their product and educating people on what they're about to consume. While we start, while we continue to develop these data insights that help them really understand what side of the spectrum they want. If I can go into a dispensary and I can identify that I like a sweet, exotic, savory, exotic or prototypical cannabis and start differentiating from there the type of experience that I am looking for. We can do a lot better service for the consumer.

Speaker 1:

It's interesting you say that because I'm thinking back a few years back. We did a little collab with Humphrey Slokum it's like this craft ice cream maker here in the Bay Area and it was CBD and terpenes and we mixed them and they actually did a flavor pairing with the ice cream. How?

Speaker 1:

old is our terpenes, then yes, they were Absolutely, but CBD wasn't exactly allowed into the food supply chain yet in California, so it was like a little bit of risk. We got way more press than we anticipated. It was like adult ice cream is what all the headlines were saying and people were defining. This experience of the day just seemed a little brighter, a little bit lighter, and I'm like I didn't put any THC in there, right, it was just CBD and terpenes.

Speaker 1:

And ice cream is a great delivery mechanism for all this, which we can talk about later.

Speaker 4:

When you go through enough studies that we've gone through. In the beginning it's ancillodonal. We all know it from inhalation. Nobody really knows what happens when you ingest it, right? So a lot of our clients they're making gummies, they're making vapes and they're making gummies, and the gummies they're not using terpenes. The beverages they're not typically using terpenes and I ask why not? And the response is typically well, there's not data that proves that terpenes do anything and we're not going to you're not going to see this publication for a while, but I'll tell the audience here is. We got done with an amazing study at Israel. We tested it in gummies with or in without cannabinoids and we did demonstrate with specific doses that it does penetrate the blood brain barrier. It does absorb through the gut into the bloodstream. It is just as bioavailable as cannabinoids for an extended period of time across not only oil soluble but also the water soluble matrixes that we've developed for liquid and powders.

Speaker 4:

And so it does demonstrate the effect and we have proven that in trials. And so think of terpenes as an enhancer for your you know your formulations. It can make your day just a little bit better, just like you said with the CBD ice cream. So you know, we like to advocate for customers to try it for themselves and their focus groups, and you know, see what terpenes can do to enhance your product's performance.

Speaker 1:

See what terpenes can do for you.

Speaker 4:

Ian, is there anything, any color, you want to add on that topic?

Speaker 3:

So I mean I would love to see more research, especially like in humans, eventually, on terpenes. I think that that will help legitimize everything we're talking about now, and max alluded to something that we've been doing with some collaborators. So yeah, and so when I say terpenes don't mean anything on packaging, I guess you know I'm not saying they're completely useless, but from an aromatic perspective they can just be misleading. If you're buying flour based on terpenes because you're confident that they produce a certain mood or whatnot, then you know all means you know, then that's very helpful. But I'll mention something that I think is was really cool about our, our study, at least a chemical kind of analogy. Here I'm going to go forward. Are you guys still sharing the slides, ben Yep, you're all set.

Speaker 3:

So one I'm going to point out here is scatol. So I've already mentioned this, and again, I think this is an interesting compound because it's so similar to other kind of biologically relevant sort of species, and so I have two questions when I first found this. The first one is you know, is there an upstream compound that is degrading into this, that maybe that could be have some sort of biochemical functionality? And so that's a question we're still looking into, looking for kind of maybe there's a larger compound than scatol in these varieties that we can detect that isn't in others, that degrades into scatol. But the second thing is, you know, would scatol or indole have any sort of kind of affinity for maybe a CB receptor or whatnot? And what I think was so cool when, when I was doing some literature searching, is I came across this compound called 33 diindoleil methane, so they call it dim, for short DIM. And what's cool about this compound is that it's essentially two scatol molecules fused together through a methyl group, so it's like a dimer, and this compound is a CB two receptor agonist. And so here's something very similar to scatol which cannabis produces, that actually has pretty fit similar functionality. And so you know, to me that's just really neat because it kind of gives precedence for us to look a bit deeper into maybe some of these flavorants as to whether there could be any sort of, you know, maybe receptor interactions within the you know, the CB receptors.

Speaker 3:

You know, again I mentioned that this is the core functionality of psychedelic drugs like psilocybin. You know, I wonder if scatol might even have some, you know, serotonin type activity. Right, you know that's a whole nother question that we can now now ask. So yeah, I think what's so cool aside from the fact that we discovered all this new chemistry and we've just, you know, we've kind of worked out kind of from an aromatic perspective, what it means but I think what's even more interesting to me is, you know, do these compounds influence the characteristics of certain varieties that they're in?

Speaker 3:

And so I'll just mention at least something I've noticed anecdotally is that and I feel like a lot of other people have as well, and that is that a lot of varieties that are described as chem likes, you know, maybe chem dog, gmo, donnie burger, those sort of things we've measured all those and they all contain scatol.

Speaker 3:

Now, if you go and look at leafy or weed maps and you look at, you know user reviews, or you know experiences, many of those all kind of aligned to the same sort of characteristics, which is, you know, that kind of couch lock, quote, unquote Indica, sort of leaning experience. And so you know, one of the key kind of similarities between all of those is the presence of scatol in it. Now, it's in very low concentration. So you know, I can't say for certain that it's doing anything, but I do think it's curious that a lot of these varieties that have that cam or savory sort of descriptor tend to kind of lean a certain way as far as their effects goes, and so that's a sort of really cool new research that we, you know, hopefully we can do internally, max, but also, you know, other researchers can pursue as well. So I'm excited to see what kind of comes next, more than anything.

Speaker 2:

Amazing Scatol folks. You heard it here first.

Speaker 4:

Thanks, jared. Thank you for sharing the you know, helping us share our research. This has been years of effort for us and millions of dollars of investment to get to this point. So you know we appreciate you guys helping to broadcast it and share the good word with everybody else.

Speaker 2:

This has been a super fun conversation and there's so many more things that I want to ask and we just don't have time for today, but we will post links to the research in the show notes for people who want to get deeper in it. And let's move into our last call and hear from each of you guys what you would like to say is your lasting impression, and try to keep it to a sentence or less. Let's see if you can do it. Who wants to go first? F Martin.

Speaker 3:

So I would say I'm really excited about future studies on that expand upon this research. To me, you know, laying a foundation for medical researchers to now maybe go in and look to see if these have any influence that would be just so impactful for the entire community. So that's, that's what I'm really, really excited for, and I got to give a shout out to Max and our team as well. Thanks for investing heavily in the scientific equipment and our team. Obviously, we couldn't do that without the funding.

Speaker 4:

And I just want to again share my appreciation for Ian and his whole team the industry for us supporting abstracts through this journey. We wouldn't be here without the industry support. So if you want to keep learning more and seeing more of this awesome research, please support us by going online, buying some terpians from us or engaging us on some custom flavor projects so we can continue reinvesting in future research endeavors and promoting the industry.

Speaker 1:

Amazing and we just appreciate you guys giving us this hour to just kind of completely nerd out on on terpians and science. I honestly feel like I could probably go a couple more hours with you guys, but I don't know if we would have an audience watching would just be us kicking out so we'll save it for round two.

Speaker 4:

Yeah Well, thanks Ben and Ray. It's been a pleasure, Appreciate you guys bringing us on and look forward to doing it again in the future.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, amazing.

Speaker 4:

Amazing.

Speaker 1:

And, as we wrap up, remember that the dialogue doesn't have to end here. We invite you, our audience, to continue this conversation, and we'd love to hear your thoughts. Who would you like to see on the show besides this amazing abstracts team? What topics would you like us to cover? We are immensely grateful for you and for allowing me to be on vacation while recording the show. The brain is getting warmed back up. So, yeah, thanks to my amazing team at Virtosa for continuing to support us as we do this, and Ray and the team at Wolf Meyer for continuing to support the entire industry around the nation. Until next time, remember folks, stay curious, stay informed and keep your spirits high. We'll talk to you soon.

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Investing in R&D and Cannabis Research
Analysis of Terpenes in Cannabis
Volatility and Stability of Cannabis Aromas
Simplifying Terpene Information for Consumers
Terpenes Enhance Mood and Products