Title: Vice President of Extraction
For the past 12 months, the editorial staff at Marijuana Venture has compiled a list of candidates for our third annual 40 Under 40 feature. This year, we narrowed our list down from hundreds of worthy candidates to come up with a cross-section of personalities across the U.S. and Canada, from salt-of-the-earth farmers to tech savants. All of them have unique stories, successes and ambitions and all represent the excitement and promise of the cannabis business. We feel honored to share their stories and look forward to watching them push forward in our ever-evolving industry.
Some people seem destined for a career in cannabis.
For Markus Roggen, it was a matter of serendipity.
Roggen was born in Germany and studied all around the world, including London, Singapore and Switzerland (where he received his Ph.D. in chemistry), before moving to San Diego for postdoctoral studies at the Scripps Research Institute. While his project in physical organic chemistry was winding down in 2014, his triathlon coach introduced him to an investor group looking for someone to direct their cannabis analytical laboratory.
“Prior to that, I had no exposure or experience at all,” he says. “Back then, I had to fill out lengthy legal documents to convince testing instrument manufacturers to sell me a machine. Now, some of those same companies are the largest sponsors of cannabis science events.”
About two years later, he met OutCo CEO Lincoln Fish, “who convinced me that I should switch sides and work in production,” Roggen says.
Now as OutCo’s vice president of extraction, Roggen manages a team that handles everything post-cultivation, including drying and curing flower, trimming, extraction and packaging, as well as product development. He doesn’t focus on any single aspect, but divides most of his time between team management and scientific research to improve OutCo’s processes.
“Currently, my favorite projects are curing research, extraction optimization and production efficiency,” he says. “I am racing to close the roughly 50-year developmental gap between pharma and the cannabis industry.”
And while research has increased and advanced tremendously in recent years, Roggen says cannabis remains largely a mystery.
“I would argue that we are still at the beginning of any scientific understanding of the plant,” he says. “Just in the last few months, academic research has shown that there are four different configurations of delta-9-THC and that far more components than THC and CBD have medical effects. Also, the traditional categorization of cannabis as indica or sativa has been shown to be meaningless. And despite lively discussions in scientific literature, we have not yet found a better alternative.
“There’s a lot to learn, and we are only slowly starting to understand all the things we don’t know.”