Kristina Etter   |   October 19, 2022

New Drug Delivery Tech for Enhanced Cannabis Edible Experience

Edible manufacturing is getting a boost from Israeli-developed drug delivery technology.
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.

In commercial cannabis, delivering a consistent experience is paramount for consumer loyalty. However, the complexities of edible production and unpredictable THC metabolization create certain challenges for edible manufacturers.

Now, factor in long onset times, inconsistent formulations, and consumer inexperience, and we end up with infamous stories of overconsumption like Maureen Dowd reported and the infamous “Pot Dad” from Omaha.

Day Three Labs hopes to simplify the equation using drug delivery technology developed in their pharmaceutical-grade lab in Israel. Cannabis Tech reached out to company CEO and Co-Founder Josh Rubin, based in Colorado, to discuss the ingredient technology Unlokt – a novel approach to a better consumer edible experience.

Edible Manufacturing Beyond the Buzz Words

Rubin was attending business school at John Hopkins when medical marijuana was legalized in Maryland in 2016, sparking his interest. “I quickly discovered there were some gaps in the industry, especially when it comes to edibles,” he said.

Referring to tourists and inexperienced consumers, he explained, “They take a bite of an edible, nothing happens, they take another, and another, and then suddenly they’ve eaten the whole chocolate bar or a whole pack of gummies. Next thing they know, they want to go to the ER.”

Rubin stated his objectives were to mitigate the adverse effects and open the industry to a new segment of consumers. But unlike current fast-acting technologies infiltrating the market, Unlokt uses protein encapsulation and isn’t dependent on particle size.

“All the buzz was around emulsions,” Rubin recalled the development phases. “But emulsion has been around forever, and we quickly learned it wasn’t achieving our goals.”

Protein Encapsulation

“Comparing Unlokt to the current market is like comparing the iPhone to the Palm Pilot,” Rubin laughed. “There’s nothing else on the market today that provides the full profile of cannabis the way Unlokt does.”

He continued, “We’re taking cannabinoids at the molecular level and packing them into protein particles at almost a one-to-one ratio. No chemicals, surfactants, or additives, just protein, cannabis, and terpenes – evenly distributed and easily digested.”

An Israeli pharmaceutical firm developed the technology for medical patients who had trouble metabolizing ingested THC. After about six years of research, Unlokt was clinically validated in Israel.

Unlike emulsions, which break down cannabis oils into tiny particles, Rubin explains that this technology doesn’t rely on particle size. Instead, Unlokt takes advantage of a naturally occurring process in the body, using protein as a delivery mechanism.

“We’re just hitching a ride with protein particles,” Rubin said.

In Production

Colorado-based cannabis company, Olio, contracted with Day Three Labs to use the Unlokt technology in their edible line. We spoke with Steve Morigi, Brand Product and Process Manager at Olio, about their experience and products.

After primarily focusing on extractions, Olio wanted to diversify its product lineup to appeal to a broader audience in a more approachable form. When asked about their decision to use Unlokt in their formulations, Morigi replied, “We like that it provides a true Delta-9, strain-specific, high. We wanted to keep that familiar Delta-9 experience rather than the 11-Hydroxy effect of other edibles.”

He described the consumer effect as lighter than traditional edibles. “It’s not putting you to sleep, it’s more relaxing, and because of the quicker onset, quicker offset – there’s no edible hangover the next morning.”

Rather than distillate or isolate, Olio gummies are made with high-quality live rosin. “We want the broad cannabinoid spectrum, the terpenes, everything in there,” Morigi elaborated.

But, it was the simplicity of the technology and the natural approach that truly sold it for the Olio team. Morigi warned, “With other nano-emulsions and technologies trying to increase cannabinoid absorption, there are a lot of synthetics and plastics. This is just whey protein – something people have been using for years.”

He explains, “This is a drug delivery issue. If you took an Advil and don’t get an effect until two hours later, that’s not a good system.” The same applies to cannabis edibles.

“It just made sense to me and made me feel more comfortable about what I was putting in my body,” he stated.

Most of all, Morigi said they’ve enjoyed working with Day Three Labs and have access to scientists in Israel. “It’s the scientific mindset; it has been fun to talk to people who have been studying cannabis and working with it for years.”

The protein encapsulation technology of Unlokt also opens the opportunity for unique formulations and blends. “We’re definitely looking forward to continuing our work with Day Three Labs for future products and formulations,” Morigi concluded.

What’s Next for Unlokt

While Olio is the first manufacturer to sell edibles powered by Unlokt in Colorado, it is certainly not the last. Edibles from other manufacturers will hit shelves in California soon as well. “For consumer safety and just a better overall edibles experience, our goal is to replace emulsions in edibles sold across the U.S.,” added Rubin.

"Utilizing technology like Unlokt in the adult-use market will disrupt the entire industry, but creating better, cleaner, more functional products only scratches the surface of what this technology is capable of,” Rubin said.  In July, Day Three Labs announced that an Israeli government-backed organization is funding research and innovation for the company to deliver the first ingestible cannabinoid remedy to relieve Parkinson's symptoms in patients and stop the progression of the disease.

Looking for edible manufacturing equipment? Check out Cannabis Tech's Marketplace!

 

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