It often happens that a company with a truly innovative technology has to develop its own product line just to get its innovation out there.
And it doesn’t help when “out there” is one of the goofiest markets in America: the legal cannabis market.
We’re going to do a full-blown feature about the current state of the cannabis market in our June issue. But I can’t help sharing an interview that I won’t have room to include in that article.
If you want proof of how ridiculous the it’s-legal-no-it-isn’t situation with cannabis has become, look no farther than SōRSE. The company owns and licenses technology to produce water-soluble emulsions of THC and CBD, the active ingredients of cannabis. Its product arm is THC Essentials, which markets beverages and other consumable products.
SōRSE and THC Essentials face the same problem as everyone else who markets cannabis products: The fragmented legal situation. THC is illegal under federal law; absurdly, it’s classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, right alongside heroin. But it’s legal for recreational use in 15 states, and for medical use in 18 more. This means that anyone who wants to process foods or beverages containing cannabis has to operate – source ingredients, manufacture and distribute – entirely within the borders of one state.
“It’s a little mind-numbing how we have to do business because of having legal states and then medical states, and being federally illegal,” says David Balmer, national sales manager of THC Essentials.
For SōRSE to operate, it has to find a partner in a given state with access to a supply of raw marijuana, then come in and help the partner use SōRSE technology to make THC or CBD distillate.
The beverages of THC Essentials were developed about four years ago, in an effort to build a channel for products that use SōRSE extraction. It’s a similar situation to the distillate production, in that THC Essentials finds a partner, licenses the beverage brands to them and helps them process the beverages with distillate produced through the SōRSE process.
“We actually have to set up with a partner in every state that we want to go to,” Balmer says. “So it’s really, really difficult to get product to market in an affordable and proper way, simply because we have to jump through these hoops.”
Balmer sees the market becoming more efficient as it expands: “There are going to be more and more people stepping up into this space, to where it’ll make it more efficient and cost-effective to get beverages to market.”
And let’s hope the law will stop harshing the industry’s mellow. It’s a product that a lot of people want and that has the potential to be very lucrative, for governments as well as companies – if government will kindly get out of its own way.