Kristina Etter   |   May 05, 2021

Brain Wave Technology Unlocks Cannabis Mysteries

New EEG technology offers insight into the effects of cannabis and opens new doors to understanding consumer differences.
Kristina Etter spent 20 years in corporate IT with a niche in mobile technology and IoT in agriculture. Today, she combines her love of technology with a passion for cannabis as the Editorial Director for Cannabis Tech.

One of the biggest challenges with cannabis legalization has been learning how to discern impairment. But roadside and workplace testing is only scratching the surface in terms of what is possible when science begins to quantify the overall cannabis experience.

Zentrela, a Canadian technology company, has designed a device to unlock a wide range of mysteries surrounding the psychoactive effects of cannabis. Cannabis Tech had the opportunity to speak with Israel Gasperin, Founder and CEO, to learn more about this cutting-edge research and break-thru cannabis technology.

Visualizing Cannabis Impairment

Gasperin became interested in EEG technology for detecting driver fatigue in 2016. Soon after, insurance agencies, transportation companies, and law enforcement began challenging his company to develop a method for determining levels of cannabis impairment based on brain wave analysis and quantify the effects.

By the time recreational cannabis was legalized in 2018, they already had the prototypes to show this technology was a feasible solution for the problem. The Cognalyzer® solves the age-old riddle, “How high is ‘high’?”

The challenge of field saliva tests and even blood tests is that the THC metabolite can be detected days or weeks after consumption. Additionally, many medical patients and daily cannabis consumers develop a tolerance to the psychoactive effects of cannabis. Therefore, although someone may have THC in their system, this isn’t a good gauge of impairment.

The new technology uses a two-minute recording of the consumer’s brain waves to determine if someone is high and just how high they are with a scale of psychoactive activity. Using artificial intelligence and complex algorithms, The Cognalyzer® has an 85% accuracy rate.

Gasperin stated, “Our results show that combining the two tests complement each other and can reduce up to 50% of potential false accusations of cannabis impairment due to THC residuals detected in oral fluids.”

He concluded, “We’ve come up with a fair way to promote responsible and safe cannabis use while avoiding false accusations.”

Quantifying the Cannabis Experience

While Gasperin certainly appreciates the public and workplace safety aspects of their technology, he also believes there’s an immediate commercial application that goes beyond detecting THC impairment. By analyzing the brain waves of consumers, the Cognalyzer® can quantify the cannabis experience of individual products.

Through partnerships with Licensed Producers (LPs) in Canada, Zentrela is providing a first-of-its-kind opportunity in consumer research to offer objective data regarding the onset, strength, and duration of the psychoactive effects.

“We are a gateway to generate those product effect profiles to help cannabis producers demonstrate the experience their products provide, differentiate their brand, and grow their market,” Gasperin elaborated.

Pointing out that Canada’s regulations are more strict than the United States, Gasperin believes their technology will help producers provide the most useful data available to the consumers. And any steps toward more informed consumers are headed in the right direction.

Utilizing Cannabis Consumer Profiles for a Repeatable Experience

“Part of the consumer research service we provide to LPs is to create the first scientific database of product effects linked to specific consumer profiles,” Gasperin explained.

In their research, Zentrela invited cannabis consumers to participate in the study, and they collected multiple points of data such as demographics, psychographics, and even subjective points like mood and mental state. By collecting this data and analyzing their results, Zentrela intends to help producers create repeatable experiences based on consumer profiles.

“Consumer profiles become the target audience,” he noted. “You want to focus on the consumer who will enjoy the effects of the product, and when you can deliver a repeatable, enjoyable experience, you build brand loyalty.”

He added, “Down the road when this database is more robust; our vision is to help consumers to engineer their own experience by knowing how much and how to consume a particular product to achieve the specific experience they want.”

The More We Learn

Currently working with some of the top LPs in Canada, Zentrela has a solid, validated business model. Today, they plan to scale up their database development and continue mapping the effects of both Canadian and United States cannabis products.

Speaking optimistically about their progress, Gasperin said, “One of the biggest challenges we faced in 2016 was the credibility that this idea was feasible because of the lack of scientific literature. The combination of huge amounts of data related to brainwaves and leveraging AI to identify complex patterns that we humans cannot identify - is making a difference.”

 

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