The race is on in California as manufacturers, scientists and inventors look to create the next generation of cannabis products. One innovative new product that has the potential to change not only the way consumers enjoy cannabis, but also how edibles manufacturers operate is the THC Design MIX, a microencapsulated marijuana powder that can be easily blended into any food or beverage.
Unlike typical cannabis concentrates, MIX is a water-soluble extract, allowing it to blend completely with any food and provide users with an exact dose of cannabinoids.
“Currently, when you’re using some form of hash, that food has to have some form of fat so it adheres,” THC Design co-founder Ryan Jennemann says. “You can’t add it to a water-based drink, because it will separate. You don’t get even dispersion. With the microencapsulated powder, you can more accurately get even distribution, so every bite will be exactly the same as every other bite.”
THC Design produces MIX through a partnership with Made By Science, a California-based biotechnology firm “created with the goal of supplying the emerging global market with a new standard of cannabis ingredients.”
THC Design provides the raw ingredients — an activated THC distillate produced at the company’s indoor grow facilities in Southern California — and Made By Science converts the distillate into microencapsulated powder using its own proprietary method.
Microencapsulation is a process in which tiny particles are coated by an equally tiny film, giving manufacturers a wide array of applications and benefits ranging from vitamins and nutrients to culinary and agricultural purposes.
Made By Science’s process for the cannabis industry allows pinpoint accuracy in dosing and more predictable absorption into the bloodstream. The main benefit of MIX is giving consumers the power to easily and accurately dose themselves when creating their own edibles, making it ideal for medical purposes.
“Many people who use cannabis for medicine cannot smoke or vape,” Jennemann says.
Plus, consumers can create their own healthier alternatives to conventional edibles that are often high in fat and sugar.
Another upside of MIX is its long shelf life, with essentially no degradation even up to six months after production.
While infused powder is THC Design’s hottest new product, flower remains its tried-and-true stalwart.
Concentrates and edibles are some of the fastest-growing categories in the cannabis industry, but flower still dominates the California market. According to data from BDS Analytics, flower accounted for 55% of the money spent on cannabis products in California during the second quarter of 2017. Concentrates were the second-largest category of products at 25% of the market, followed by edibles at 12%. Within the edibles category, candy (29%) and chocolate (24%) are the top-selling items.
About 80% of the company’s flower is sold in Southern California and 15% in the Bay Area and Central Valley, with only a small footprint in Northern California.
At THC Design, “we pride ourselves on cultivating incredibly high-end cannabis through renewable practices,” Jennemann says.
However, he admits that growing cannabis indoors in Southern California requires “absurd amounts of power.” To offset the power consumption, THC Design is looking to incorporate more energy-efficient lighting, such as light-emitting ceramics. The company also shines at water conservation with a closed-loop system that allows it to reclaim about 70% of all water used for cultivation. On a warm, humid day, the company actually generates more water than it uses.
“Square foot for square foot, we use less water on cultivation than office space,” Jennemann says.
At one of its 20,000-square-foot warehouse grows, THC Design uses 1,800 to 2,000 gallons a day to water plants. On average, it recaptures 1,400 gallons a day, meaning a loss of only 400 to 600 gallons.
By comparison, the facility’s 30 to 35 employees use about 1,200 gallons a day on the office side — double or even triple the water wasted growing plants. Extrapolate that for the company’s 180 employees and the water savings with its closed-loop system are substantial.
As California’s regulated market evolves, Jennemann and his team at THC Design are looking to stay at the forefront of the industry with partnerships and products that keep the company moving forward.
Yet, Jennemann recognizes the marketing obstacles that lie ahead. MIX is the first microencapsulated cannabis powder to be released in California and one of only a small handful of similar products available throughout North America.
“There’s always that learning curve when you introduce a new product,” he says. “Without a doubt, I see that as a challenge. People are creatures of habit and something new is going to take them a little while to adopt. But, to be the devil’s advocate, cannabis butter and cannabis oil accounts for tens of millions of dollars of sales. Although it’s a small percentage of the market, it’s still potentially a hundred-million-dollar sector in California.”
While do-it-yourself edibles makers will likely be the initial target demographic for MIX, Jennemann says commercial edibles manufacturers represent another major revenue stream.
“This product is going to be much more cost-effective and much easier to work with,” he says.
THC Design’s company motto is “Forging the Future of Cannabis.”
With products like MIX, THC Design is tackling its goal from day one of California’s regulated market.