There’s a cannabinoid revolution happening right now, and more people are reaping the rewards and health benefits of technology, innovation, and science. And we’re thrilled to be joined by a true pioneer in the cannabis industry, Roy Lipski.
Roy is the founder of Bud Love, a “cocktail mixer” designed to complement cannabis experiences. He’s led growing technology companies based on cutting-edge science for more than 20 years. These include Creo, a biotechnology company that produces novel cannabinoids using, believe it or not, fermentation.
In this episode, you’ll learn why Roy is all-in on CBG (the mother cannabinoid) and why it was such a massive milestone to be able to produce on a large scale. Roy talks about Bud Love’s unique value propositions, the shocking results of their blind tests of CBG and THC drinks, and what the future holds for producing cannabinoids at scale with purity and consistency without THC and cannabis.
- What makes CBG different from other cannabis compounds.
- How Bud Love products complement cannabis and acts like a cocktail mix, counteracting the undesirable effects of THC.
- What Bud Love is doing to educate consumers about their unique products.
- How to get the most out of Bud Love.
- Why Roy believes cannabis is basically legal already.
- “As long as you didn’t make THC, bioengineering/biomanufacturing would allow you to make cannabinoids that were legal, because of how the laws were written is kind of all twisted anyway.” – Roy Lipski
- “The really exciting thing about this technology is it holds part of the key of addressing the environmental issues that we have as a society.” – Roy Lipski
- Follow Roy Lipski on LinkedIn | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube
- Bud Love
- Bud Love on Wefunder
- Ramon Gonzalez
- Brightfield Group
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Rick Kiley: All right. Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of The Green Repeal. I am one of your co-hosts, Rick Kiley. I’m joined as always in the holiday season by Jeffrey Boedges.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. And we have to talk about the weather so I will say, hey, it’s snowing. It already snowed yesterday. Got a little bit of a white Christmas-y kind of holiday thingy going on here.
Rick Kiley: No, it didn’t snow. I, as a courtesy from you as a gift, went to MetLife Stadium to watch the Giants get shellacked by the Philadelphia Eagles. And it was not snowing there. It was rainy, misty, delicious fun. Sorry, man.
Jeffrey Boedges: Well, up here in the Great White North, it snowed and it was good.
Rick Kiley: All right. Well, I’m glad we got some snow on the ground. We got the holiday season upon us. We’re getting ready to close out the year. And, Jeff, as we enter the holiday season, I actually had a question for you.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. Am I going to give weed to my friends as stocking stuffers?
Rick Kiley: Well, okay. Good. Everybody sign up to be one of Jeff’s friends, okay? No, my question was…
Jeffrey Boedges: My list is full. I’m sorry.
Rick Kiley: My question was, what if I told you that bud gets better?
Jeffrey Boedges: I can’t believe it. I feel like we’re in that golden age of weed.
Rick Kiley: Well, this is the idea. This is the teaser being offered by Bud Love, the world’s first premium herbal mixer. Today, we are welcoming Roy Lipski, who is the CEO of Bud Love, who founded the company because he believes the answer is, “Absolutely, yes. Bud does get better.” Roy has led growing technology companies based on cutting-edge science for more than 20 years. And prior to Bud Love’s launch, he co-founded Creo, a biotechnology company that is the parent to Bud Love, which produces rare cannabinoids using fermentation. Before Creo, he successfully founded several other pioneering technology companies, led one to an IPO, another to a transformative acquisition, and ran a public company for close to ten years. Roy’s done a lot. He sounds pretty smart. We are excited to talk with him today about the story behind this first-of-a-kind product.
Rick Kiley: Roy, welcome to The Green Repeal.
Roy Lipski: Thank you very much. Glad to be here.
Rick Kiley: We’re happy to have you here. I think you might actually only be the second bioengineer. I think there was at least one other that we’ve talked to, but we don’t talk to a lot of folks with your background. Can you talk to us about how someone like yourself…
Jeffrey Boedges: There’s a lot of immature bioengineers.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. But you’ve got…
Jeffrey Boedges: As any kind of degree.
Rick Kiley: No, no, we could talk. You can list off all the letters. Maybe you got a hundred behind your name. I hope you do. But what I’m curious about, just to start with someone with a bioengineering technology background, what’s the path to take someone with your background and leads you to try and apply your expertise within the cannabis industry?
Roy Lipski: Yeah. So, this is a little story. So, I study biochemistry. When I graduated, I had some fire in my belly. I couldn’t imagine a career in science, the patience of Ph.D. in a postdoc and then writing papers for a professor for years who takes all the credit.
Rick Kiley: Wait. That’s what happens? The professors take the credit?
Jeffrey Boedges: I am married to a college professor and I can validate everything you just said.
Rick Kiley: Wow.
Roy Lipski: It’s a long graph getting to that point. Absolutely. And then you have to deal with all the politics with the grant authorities and all that stuff. Anyway, so through a little bit of a windy path, I ended up finding my vocation in life, which was at the interface between science and business, i.e., taking world-class inventions and figuring out how to bring them into the real world, how to make products out of them, how to make companies, etcetera. And I’ve done this multiple times. My first business was actually an A.I. software company in the 1990s, based on some algorithms that a professor in the US wrote for NASA, which we repurposed for understanding language. Anyway, it was very cool, but kind of 20 years too soon.
Rick Kiley: Okay.
Roy Lipski: And everything I’ve done has been a first of its kind. In 2015, I stepped back from the previous company that I’d founded, which was producing technology for making renewable jet fuel, something the world certainly needs. And I did what I do at the kind of inspiration stages, which is in the early stages you look for inspiration. And I just kind of delved into all kinds of areas of science and one that I found that really captured my imagination was this biomanufacturing space, a technology that originally originated in pharmaceuticals where it allows you to essentially use fermentation to produce specific molecules. And a lot of the drugs that we take are produced in this way. Increasingly, most of the vitamins that go to enrich are cereals. This has kind of been happening in the background without people knowing. And the really exciting thing about this technology is I think it holds part of the key of addressing this sort of environmental issues that we have as a society where we’ve become accustomed to a certain way of life. But that way of life, as it’s done today, is unsustainable.
And the beauty of fermentation is that you are basically using sugar as your feedstock. Sugar is a renewable resource, and you can turn it into all these different compounds, many of which are made from hydrocarbons today. And so, this is a big, big trend. You know, the plant-based meats that are becoming popular are produced in this way, or at least one of the key ingredients that make them taste like meat is produced in this way. So, I became fascinated in this area and I got to know a professor, I was based in Houston at the time, Ramon Gonzalez, who was Head of Bioengineering at Rice University. And I spent a few months getting to know everything he was doing in his lab, looking for something that I could commercialize. And sadly, I didn’t see anything that could be brought to market in less than ten years. So, I was kind of lost. And a friend of mine, Tom, said, “You should have a look at this cannabis industry.” This is 2015, autumn of 2015. I kind of laughed it off and said, “Don’t be silly, Tom. Those days are over for me.”
Jeffrey Boedges: That’s not uncommon.
Rick Kiley: Fair enough.
Roy Lipski: Exactly. But then I did start having a look and I was amazed. This was already like a multibillion-dollar industry. I went to some conferences and I was a bit skeptical initially. I thought it’s just a bunch of people looking for a legal loophole to get high. Not that that was necessarily bad, but I did meet a lot of people who genuinely believed and had personal stories of how cannabis has helped them in their health. From shame to acceptance. Now, it’s fairly well accepted. At the time, it was a bit controversial of an idea. So, I thought this is a really interesting industry. And you know what? There’s no big companies. There’s got to be an opportunity here. But I couldn’t find the angle. You know, I didn’t want to be a farmer. I didn’t want to be a shopkeeper. What was my entry into this market? And then I was out having a long bicycle ride. I’m almost finished with this story. Thank you for your patience.
Jeffrey Boedges: Take your time, Roy. We’re all about, you know, we’re telling a tale here.
Roy Lipski: And it literally hit me like a bolt of lightning. I stopped the bike. I was shaking with excitement. I went right back home and the idea that hit me was, “Hello. Well, why don’t we use biomanufacturing to make cannabinoids, the key ingredient in the cannabis plant?” And I went back home and I started researching it, and it seemed like no one in the world had even thought about it, let alone try doing this. And the more I looked at it, the more it seemed like a great idea. Great idea because it allowed you to produce cannabinoids at scale with a purity and consistency that would be required if these ingredients were to become real mainstream ingredients. And also, it sidestepped all the legal issues with cannabis. As long as you didn’t make THC, bioengineering/biomanufacturing would allow you to make cannabinoids that were legal, because of how the laws were written is kind of all twisted anyway.
Jeffrey Boedges: We’ve done a couple of episodes on it so, yeah.
Roy Lipski: Right. So, if it’s not THC and it doesn’t come from the cannabis plant, it’s okay. But if it does come from the cannabis plant, it’s not. I mean, it’s madness. I mean, no one in their right mind would write the laws that way. But anyway, so I got together with Professor Gonzalez, Ramon, and I kind of handed him this piece of paper upside down, and he had all the chemical formulas of various cannabinoids. I said, “Can you make these compounds?” And he turned it over and he smiled and said, “Yes, I can.” I thought he was smiling because he recognized them as cannabinoids but, no, he had been working with something in his lab for years that he thought could be repurposed in doing this. So, we formed the company together and we embarked upon this project and it turned out to be really, really, really difficult. And fast forward, last year, we finally demonstrated large-scale production of CBG, the mother cannabinoid. Massive technical milestone. Problem was there wasn’t really a market for CBG. You know, when we first started, everyone thought CBG would be like the next CBD and it would be a massive market for it. But there wasn’t.
So, by year and a bit ago, we started looking for what’s a killer app for CBG. And then it was staring us in the face. We’re like, “Hang on. The biggest market for cannabinoids is the cannabis market. Does CBG do anything with cannabis?” And this was the beginning of the Bud Love story. Through a colleague who is a vet and has contacts with big networks of vets, we did a blind study. We got two beverages. One had just…
Rick Kiley: Military veteran, right? Not a doctor of animals. Just want to make sure. Yeah.
Roy Lipski: It might be.
Rick Kiley: No. Honestly, we’ve had the CBD pet people interviewed before, too, so it’s a real question. It sounds funny, but.
Roy Lipski: Right. Yeah, very good. And so, we did this blind study. We gave people two drinks. One of them had just THC in it. The other one had THC and CBG in it. And they didn’t know anything about them. They just knew they were THC drinks and they drank one, one day, drank one the other day, and reported back. We had 650 respondents. So, it’s a fairly large study. The answers were totally surprising. They said they got just as high of both drinks, even though the CBG one actually had half the amount of THC in it.
Rick Kiley: Huh.
Roy Lipski: They said that even though they got just as high, it was qualitatively different. They described it as more happy. They described it more social. And then about a quarter of the people reported some amount of anxiety or paranoia with a THC-only drink.
Rick Kiley: Yep.
Roy Lipski: No one reported that with the CBG-THC mixture.
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Roy Lipski: And so, that was like totally unexpected. No one had ever discovered this. No one had ever talked about it. No one had ever reported it. So, we actually filed some patents around this combination of CBG and cannabis or THC. And then we set about, “Okay. What’s the best way to capitalize on this discovery?” And as we looked to the cannabis market, the answer was staring us in the face. Over half of cannabis sales is cannabis flower. So, we needed a product that could get the CBG back into cannabis flower. And that was the journey that got us to develop Bud Love, which by the time we got to the end of that journey, we actually have a product that has more benefits than just the CBG but I’ll come back to that later. So, we decided to spin this out as a separate company. Bud Love now is a separate company. We’re actually raising some money, doing crowdfunding as well. So, if people are interested, they can look at our page, Bud Love, on the Wefunder. But importantly, it’s a consumer product. And so, now we’re very much about taking this product directly to the consumers. Long story. Thanks for your patience.
Rick Kiley: No, it’s great. I mean, I have like 700 questions and, luckily, I mean, for all of us but you answered like my next two follow-up questions with that story. So, it’s very good content. I appreciate it. Really interesting. I don’t know where to start, but I have one question. I’m a fan of Star Trek and on Star Trek, the innovation that allowed like the universe to move on from money was this matter transformer which essentially you could ask for anything, and the theory is it rearranges molecules to give you that thing. So, you started talking about fermentation, which is surprising to me to hear this. Sorry. It’s the first time I’ve heard this. If fermentation being something that would enable the creation of a lot of other things through its own natural process. Am I understanding that correctly? Is that basically the process we’ve used to make beer for thousands of years that’s inherent in nature is what is enabling you to synthesize, even though it sounds like a natural synthesis but I’m going to say it’s to synthesize what you need. Yes?
Roy Lipski: Biosynthesis and this is a natural process. And the compounds you get at the end of it are absolutely identical to what comes from the plant because you use the same enzymes in the same biological pathways. You’re just doing it in a microbe instead of the plants.
Rick Kiley: Right.
Jeffrey Boedges: So, could you make THC if you would?
Roy Lipski: We could. We could. But the legal structure is not there for doing that.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. But I’m putting on my futurist hat here. That could disrupt the agricultural portion of this industry. I’m just throwing out.
Roy Lipski: Well, I can answer that question and let’s be careful about, you know.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, yeah. I’m not trying to panic anybody here, hopefully.
Roy Lipski: To answer your question, I don’t think it replaces. I think it supplements. I think there will always be a market for the plant. The plant I compare it to like wine. Right? It’s got all these molecules, it’s where it’s grown, and what strain it is, etcetera. But there’s another whole market there’s going to be where people just, you know, it’s a drink or it’s a gummy. They don’t care what strain it came from. They just want the THC.
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: At this point in particular psychoanalytic effect or psycho effects. Yeah.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Well, that’s super interesting. And CBG, though, so it’s a cannabinoid. You referred to it as the mother cannabinoid. So, I want to ask about that in a second but it’s also, I’m assuming, something that is naturally occurring in the cannabis plant.
Roy Lipski: Well, that’s why I call it the mother cannabinoid. If you look at the bio steps to make THC or CBD, all of them make CBG first. So, the plant makes CBG first, and then it converts it into THC or CBD, depending on whether you’re a hemp or marijuana. So, all cannabis plants make CBG but very little of it remains because it gets converted later on unless you happen to harvest the plant early and then there’s a lot of CBG in that.
Rick Kiley: Got it. And there are other cannabinoids we’ve talked about. CBN has come up also as well. Are they all derived from…
Roy Lipski: They all come from CBG.
Rick Kiley: Okay.
Roy Lipski: That’s why it’s the mother cannabinoid.
Rick Kiley: All right.
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s the top of the food chain, so to speak. Alright. It makes sense. Can I ask another quick question? Sorry, Rick. I don’t mean to take a soapbox of this, but you mentioned you did a research study with 650 people, which is amazing because research in cannabis has been almost impossible because of the Schedule 1. All right. Did you guys do it under the radar or did you do it in another country or did you get a permit that 99.9% of the U.S. population doesn’t know you can get it?
Roy Lipski: It was done in a state where cannabis is legal and it was done through a dispensary. And so, the dispensary distributed the drinks. There may have been a small fee that was paid there by the recipient. I don’t know the exact details, but that’s how it was done. It was done in a legal state through a licensed dispensary.
Rick Kiley: Okay.
Jeffrey Boedges: Got it. Thank you. Sorry. I mentioned my wife is a college professor. She’s formerly in pharma and used to design studies for the pharmacy industry. So, we’ve had this discussion. So, anyway, that’s why my innate curiosity.
Roy Lipski: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: So, this is all very interesting. I’m curious around the story about the genesis of this idea and that most people, when I talk to you about new entrepreneurial ventures, they tend to be there’s a problem they see somewhere in a market that they’re looking to solve. It doesn’t sound like that’s how this idea came about. You sort of purposely were like, “I want to create something that’s never been done before. I think I can apply this idea in cannabis,” and then the problem sort of maybe the problem has arrived after the fact?
Roy Lipski: Yeah.
Rick Kiley: Because I’m a marketer and Jeff’s a marketer, we’re always thinking about how do we connect the story with the consumers. And this is a question for later on but I’m going to talk about it now because I’m a man of a certain age and I’m not a veteran but I find that there are a lot of products that are on the market right now that do create that sort of like sharp or paranoid feeling that you can get. And I don’t know, SNL did a great skit once where a whole bunch of people who are in their forties and fifties were calling 911 because they thought they were dead for smoking the weed that’s made today because it’s so strong. And I feel like there’s a little bit of difference there. I guess I’m curious about do you feel like now that you’ve created this product, are you trying to find a little bit of the purpose for it after the fact? And do you think that this idea of providing an experience that’s, I don’t know, eliminating the bad effects that cannabis can have, is that kind of the purpose that you’re going with right now?
Roy Lipski: Yeah, right. So, let me kind of comment in one of the things you said. I mean, there were kind of two big steps here, formation of Creo. What Creo was really trying to do is to create a platform that would give access to these amazing compounds, cannabinoids, but in a way that could be adopted by mainstream consumer packaged goods companies, which may solve the legal problems. You have to solve the consistency, purity, scalability, and all that kind of stuff. Bud Love grew out of also a problem we were trying to solve, which was, “What the hell do we do with CBG?” And that’s kind of how it led to the discoveries. But you know, coming back to your questions, there’s kind of a few there. And I think it’s worthwhile if I talk a little bit about, well, let me continue the next bit of the story, which is from discovering the CBG to the Bud Love. So, we wanted to try and find a way to bring it into flower. And then we developed this product. We did a lot of focus groups, so we worked with the Brightfield Group to understand what were the unmet needs that cannabis consumers had. And what we found was very interesting.
Whilst they were all happy with their flower, they also said, “Look, I don’t want to get totally high every time.” “I’m a bit bored. I want to have something new and interesting. I want to mix things up.” “I don’t like how sometimes it makes me cough.” And then finally, “Yeah, it’d be great if I can have something that doesn’t give me any side effects.” And so, that’s kind of what guided the development of Bud Love. And then once we had developed it, we did some more blind studies, this time with Bud Love itself. So, this was done with people. They got two pre-rolls. One was just cannabis. The other one was a 50/50 cannabis Bud Love. They smoked one in one day, one on the other day. They reported back. They didn’t know anything of Bud Love. They just thought they had two pre-rolls. And there’s a recording of these studies on our website, on the Learn page, which people can go and have a look, and the results were astonishing. And it revalidated what we saw from the first study, which was eight out of ten people said they actually preferred the pre-roll with Bud Love. They said they got just as high, but it was more happy, was more Zen, etcetera.
Then we repeated that but specifically with people that get anxiety when they smoke cannabis, which is quite hard to get people into a study to do that. It’s like, “Hey, you get anxiety? Come smoke loads of cannabis.” And the results were again very encouraging. Nine out of ten said they preferred the one with Bud Love. Six out of nine had no anxiety at all. Three out of nine had some anxiety, but much less with the Bud Love mixture. So, that was it. But where we stand today, there are basically full value propositions. And the first is these hits people other than the smell and the terpenes, the marshmallow leaf actually makes the smoke much smoother. It’s used in Chinese medicine for coughs and chest ailments, so it’s a much smoother smoke. For some people, it’s a great value add. So, one of the quotes I love to get a lot of quotes from customers, “I’ve got asthma and I didn’t even cough once.” The second value proposition is around the ability to control how high you want to get. You know, if I do a 50/50 mixture, it will be like a normal joint but I can put more Bud Love in and dial it back.
The next value proposition is around it’s a more happy, more social type of high. And then finally, the fourth is it creates a safe environment where you have much less risk of getting anxious or getting paranoid.
Jeffrey Boedges: Can I ask you, have you tested the product without any weed, without any THC, where it’s like, does that reduce anxiety in just normal people? Is it sort of Xanax effect there?
Roy Lipski: Yeah. Look, it’s a good question. Let me talk about Bud Love. It contains no THC. It contains no cannabis. It contains no CBD. It contains no nicotine. You’re not going to get high if you smoke it on its own. It’s specifically designed to complement cannabis, just like a cocktail mixer. You’re not going to get drunk if you drink the cocktail mix. The people do say that they enjoy smoking it. It smokes well. It’s got a mildly calming effect but I don’t think and I don’t have data to support this, but I don’t think it really does much on anxiety on its own. It’s the anxiety that’s caused specifically by THC that it counteracts.
Rick Kiley: Got it, yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: It makes sense.
Rick Kiley: And so, you said you’re nice enough to send us some samples. I got two in front of me. I got one, I got the Granddaddy Purple and the Super Lemon Haze. They smell good. So, I read, you’ve mentioned marshmallow leaf. What is marshmallow leaf? I mean, it sounds like an awesome thing. It sounds like something I’d find growing in Candy Land. So, I’m excited about it.
Roy Lipski: So, I know much more about marshmallow leaf than I did a year and a half ago. It’s a plant that grows in the marshes, marshmallow. In Victorian days, they used to make marshmallow out of the root to the marshmallow leaf.
Today, that’s no longer the case. Today, marshmallow leaf is the third most smoked leaf on the planet after cannabis and tobacco. It’s very popular in Asia, particularly in China. People smoke it as a cigarette substitute because it got no nicotine. They like to smoke. They have a cigarette, but it’s a marshmallow leaf cigarette. So, we chose it because it’s a very neutral type of smoking leaf and one where there is plenty of precedent for people smoking it and not getting any surprises of that.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. So, I have to ask like the nasty question, it doesn’t have a percentage of any carcinogens or anything like that. No, I mean, you say it’s not tobacco, I understand, but generally, you’re inhaling something in your lungs, and fire in the lungs, smoke in the lungs over time is generally not good, but like there’s nothing to worry about with this.
Roy Lipski: You hit the nail on the head. When you set some plant matter on fire and inhale it, you’re going to get a mixture of all kinds of different compounds. And marshmallow leaf is no different, but it doesn’t have any of the elements that are particularly bad about tobacco, especially nicotine.
Rick Kiley: Right, right, right. Okay, and does marshmallow leaf in itself have a chemical reaction with THC? Or it’s the helpful delivery system for the…
Roy Lipski: The marshmallow leaf does, it gives you a leaf that burns well that is mildly relaxing and is fairly neutral in taste. And actually, in the second blind study that I mentioned where we did it with people with anxiety, they had a 50 cannabis, 50 Bud Love, but the control in that particular study was the 50/50 was just marginality so that both pre-rolls have the same amount of cannabis in them. One of them had Bud Love, the other had just marshmallow leaf.
Rick Kiley: Got it. And the terpene profile and what I smell, that doesn’t come from the marshmallow leaf then?
Roy Lipski: No, no.
Rick Kiley: Got it.
Roy Lipski: So, what’s Bud Love made out of? Marshmallow leaf, organic we use. Secondly, we put a lot of CBG, minor cannabinoids on that. And then thirdly, we put terpenes, terpenes for the smell and the flavor, but also because terpenes have got a role in driving effect.
And what you’ll notice is that we have four different types of Bud Love. We got the Relaxed, the blue ones. They’re designed to be mixed with indica strains because the terpene profile there are indica-type terpene profiles, the green, Hybrid, the red, Sativa, and then we have the neutral ones that can go with any strain because either they’re unflavored, or this is one of my personal favorites, the tobacco-flavored. So, we have a tobacco-flavored Bud Love for people that want to transition out of smoking tobacco with cannabis. It smells like tobacco. It tastes a bit like tobacco, but it has no nicotine in it.
Rick Kiley: Got it.
Jeffrey Boedges: Like decaffeinated coffee.
Roy Lipski: Exactly. With CBG added with measure.
Jeffrey Boedges: All right. So, here’s a weird question. This is out of the blue and has nothing could say what to do. But have you figured out how to use Bud Love to actually control the munchies? Because this is my holy grail, right? Because I would much rather have a doobie at the end of the day than a scotch because it’s just how I feel the next day. Now, problem is after I have that doobie, I might have more than enough cookies for four people because I just get the munchies uncontrollably. So, I’m looking for somebody who’s going to tell me, yes, we’re in development of that, Jeff, and then I will be a customer for life.
Roy Lipski: Yes. We’re in development of that, Jim.
Jeffrey Boedges: All right, cool. So, it’s in the pipeline.
Roy Lipski: We got some ideas. We’re currently focused on the current formulation, but we’ve got some ideas. And I will say to you and, again, I haven’t done a big study on this, but some people report that Bud Love reduces the munchies. I think it’s a personal thing.
Jeffrey Boedges: It’s not clinically proven yet, but if we have some medication, that’s possible.
Rick Kiley: All right. Well, that’s good to know. So, look, we’re talking about this. And obviously, Jeff and I, while probably not the most knowledgeable people in the market, are pretty knowledgeable. This, I would imagine, is not the simplest product to explain to people. So, I’m curious, as you’re rolling this out, what is your approach to educating the public about it? Are you starting with members of the trade and hoping to build some critical mass and understanding with the folks who are at retail? Are you going direct to consumer? What’s the approach to getting people to understand what is in this envelope?
Roy Lipski: Very good question. And look, the first thing to remember is more than half the world smoke cannabis with tobacco. Might not be as popular here in the US, but it’s probably more popular than people realize, but the idea of mixing something with cannabis is well understood, and the idea of having something to replace tobacco is generally quite popular. So, those kind of people just swap this out instead of tobacco and it’s better for you and it makes the experience better, too.
And actually, even here in the US, among certain communities, they do mix tobacco. I heard, in New York, it’s quite popular. There’s something called grabba, which came from Jamaica. And it’s a kind of tobacco which you either wrap the cannabis in or you put into the cannabis. And then, of course, there are blunts. But that aside, yes, absolutely, everything we’re doing right now is about getting people to try the product. That’s the best education.
And it goes from every level, from the actual form factor that you see, that small package, one and a half grams designed to be cheap enough, 6.99 retail that people can just try it on a whim. It’s not a huge barrier. On the back of the package is a QR code that takes you to a beautiful video animation to explain to you what Bud Love is and how to use it.
So, generally speaking, we have focused on two states. We want to do those two states really well, expand from that. Those two states are Texas, where we’re selling through smoke shops. Because this product is perfectly legal, we can sell it throughout the country. And so, Texas is our kind of testing ground for the smoke shop market, testing ground for a state where cannabis is not legal.
And then Oklahoma, which is right next door where we’re selling it through dispensaries. And then finally, we’re doing it online. So, on the retail level, we do a lot of sampling. We do a lot of promoters on the ground explaining to people in the shops, etc., what the stuff is. We do education for the budtenders. And then in addition to that, we got online sales, which is actually have really been picking up.
And we get orders from all over the country, from Hawaii all the way through to Maine, and I think that finding out about what we do essentially through the work that we’re doing with influencers and social media, or etc. So that’s kind of the three prongs. It’s sampling on the ground promoters, and then online influencers, social media, and of course, podcasts.
Rick Kiley: There you go. Well, yeah, and are you looking at any of the countries that you mentioned that sort of have this mixing the other?
Roy Lipski: We will be going to the UK and Germany probably next. One more thing I forgot to say in a previous question is probably the most important, word of mouth.
Rick Kiley: Sure.
Roy Lipski: So, what we find is very interesting. You have a very small percentage of people that just won’t try Bud Love on principle. I only do the female cannabis plant, I don’t put anything with it, etc., but they’re very small minority.
Rick Kiley: Okay.
Roy Lipski: Most, I’d say 98% of people, are very open to the idea. Oh, a mixer, like a cocktail mixer. That’s interesting. I’ll give it a go. And then we generally get two types of responses. I’ve never had anyone come back and say, that’s terrible, I don’t like it. You get some people come back and say, you know what? I’m not sure if it did much for me, but I know someone who would like this. And then I remind those people that actually they smoked half the amount of cannabis. So, if they notice no difference, that’s a good thing.
Rick Kiley: Right.
Roy Lipski: That whole kind of saving money value proposition, which is really important. And then you have another group of people that are absolutely passionate about this. This has kind of like changed their life. I’m never going back to cannabis again.
And so, we have this passionate group of customers, and they’re telling their friends, and we’re encouraging that. We have a refer-a-friend program on the website where they can get some vouchers for referring other people, etc. But that’s probably the most important thing, I think, for us is that word of mouth.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. Well, I mean, that’s always the best way to build growth for your brand. Go ahead, Jeff.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah. One comment, one question. So, the first is the comment. So, when you were going through the four sort of pillars of your value proposition, you actually didn’t mention the fact that it’s an extender.
Roy Lipski: I meant too, sorry.
Jeffrey Boedges: No, no, it’s okay. I just want to make sure. So, there’s really five, but I think we just– that’s my comment. And then the next one was the question. So, is anybody asking about ingredients because it’s like if you’re making this in a lab, what is it? And we know we’re using distillation, but what are we starting with here? Are we starting with pure sugar cane? Are we starting with something more that people might find a little bit more objectionable?
Roy Lipski: So, the fermentation approach is sugar cane. However, to be clear, Bud Love does not contain biomanufactured CBG. It contains hemp-derived CBG. Because to get the scale and cost, there’s still some ways to go on the biomanufacturing. The biomanufacturing was a genesis of the idea, but the CBG and Bud Love is US hemp-derived.
Jeffrey Boedges: Okay, yep, so that’s really young plant kind of derivation.
Roy Lipski: Yeah, there are hemp plants that produce CBG naturally.
Jeffrey Boedges: Okay. They do more so than regular THC.
Roy Lipski: Yes. And on the ingredients, it’s really just three ingredients, marshmallow leaf, CBG from US hemp, and then botanical terpenes. And actually, one of the things, no THC, no CBD, no nicotine in there. One of the things that we’ve done really to kind of– because we do feel quite strongly that people should know what they’re putting in their body.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, we agree. And I think a lot of people would.
Roy Lipski: Yeah. So, every packet has a batch number on the back. It’s on that gold strip. Take that batch number. You put it on to this page on our website, you get a full certificate of analysis for that batch, which tells you cannabinoid contains pesticides, heavy metals, mycotoxins. All the things that you want to see and be reassured that your product doesn’t contain them.
Rick Kiley: Got it.
Jeffrey Boedges: And where are you guys manufacturing, all over or one central location?
Roy Lipski: No, it’s made outside of L.A. That’s where we produce it today.
Jeffrey Boedges: Okay.
Rick Kiley: Awesome. Yeah, I think and I don’t know, I really liked also the idea you were talking about with sort of creating some sessionability with it. That’s something that I always find challenging in the products that are around today. I think some of the beverages that are coming on the market have a sessionable quality, but when you’re smoking flower or you take an edible, it’s quick, it’s one, it’s done, and you’re really flying.
And it seems like there might be occasions in life where you do want to extend the burns, so to speak. And I think being able to do that is great. I think also, for folks who want to personalize their own experience, it gives them the opportunity to do that. That’s a really neat thing to play on as well.
I’m curious how the cultivators are responding to you, the people who are growing, and I’m talking about the people who are growing the top end stuff that’s winning awards. I’m sure you’re getting in front of them. Are they open to this idea? I would imagine probably, there’s innate curiosity of like, let me see what this does next. Are the people who are growing excited to hear about this and try it? Or are they the people that are falling into that small category that you mention or like who are purists and say, don’t mix my Scotch whiskey with anything?
Roy Lipski: There’s certainly some of those. But I will say that we have got a partner in Oklahoma where we’ve launched through dispensaries who’s making pre-rolls with Bud Love already inside. And that’s very, very…
Rick Kiley: That’s great.
Roy Lipski: So, there’s the economic angle that appeals to a lot of growers. Oh, I can make more money by putting Bud Love and people have a better experience, great. Let me read you one quote, which I’m particularly happy about. It says, “To be honest, I didn’t even want to like Bud Love because I’m a weed snob and don’t want to believe that I can like something that doesn’t come directly from the female cannabis plant. But I truly enjoyed it. So, getting people to try, I think is really the way forward for us. And to smell the product, you can smell it yourself. It’s got very, very appealing, distinct flavors to it.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. So, then a few more questions because we’re starting to creep closer to the end of our time here. But are there any cultivators who are now, after trying it, I’m curious if you’re finding some folks who want to develop or produce a strain that they think pairs particularly well, like that you had the Jack and Coke of this for what you will.
Jeffrey Boedges: The cobranded, co-created product, it’s almost a bit like remember when– this is a terrible metaphor, but when OxiClean came out and it was its own thing, it was just buy it on TV. And now, I can probably get Raisin Bran with OxiClean in it. You know what I’m saying? It’s kind of everywhere. So, are you guys looking at that angle as a way to commercialism?
Roy Lipski: Yes. So, well, Bud Love can be sold online, it can be sold in smoke shops throughout the country. Mixing it with cannabis and selling in dispensaries really depends on the state. Different states have different laws, and there are some states we can do it and then others that we can’t. And the ones where we can do it, and necessarily, we focused in Oklahoma first, but our partner there spends a lot of time doing exactly that, the perfect pairing of the strain without Bud Love flavor.
And you’re looking to the future, I think there are lots of opportunities to do that, to working with a mixologist or working with a cannabis chef or working with a grower to create these special combinations. We also have the ability of doing special edition products like, say, for example, a celebrity has a particular cannabis strain that they really like. We can make a flavor that’s going to match well with that cannabis strain.
Rick Kiley: Okay, got it. So, I think you were kind of alluding to it here, but we know that smoking flowers, the number one category being consumed, but other intakes are growing quite rapidly in this country. Jeff and I are big believers that beverages are going to start taking off in a big, big way. Edibles are growing. Curious, if you’re looking, if the next simply to evolve the intake method, are you looking at being able to add something into a drink or an edible? Is that on the horizon? Maybe you’re talking about cocktails. So, I’m thinking of a tincture kind of in the world of the way bitters work. Just drop it right in.
Roy Lipski: Yes, I like that. I like that. Well, I mean, the key is to get enough CBG in there. So, it depends how strong the drink is, but yeah, definitely there are other form factors. This insight that we have that we’ve patented applies to anything where THC is present. So, whilst we’re not focused on that, we’ve got more than enough right now. Bud Love is successful. That’s certainly brand extensions for the future.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I just feel like if you’re going to keep going with the cocktail mixer allegory here, you’re going to have to bring to market something, even if it’s just on a lark for like a pop-up experience or something like that. You create it for one and done sort of thing. Cool. This is very exciting. Super interesting. And then forgive me, I got these, like on Friday, and I haven’t had a chance to give it a try yet, but they do smell great. Got a little lavender overtone on one of them here. And I’m going to give them a whirl.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, I get my test drive tonight. I had to spend the weekend, so it wasn’t an option, but yeah.
Roy Lipski: Let me say a few more things. I suppose you want to try Bud Love, we’re doing a holiday special on the website right now, where you can get some free cones, maybe even a rolling tray. And then, especially for your listeners, they can use my code, which is Love15, one word, for 15% discount.
Now, how to get the best out of Bud Love? A few kinds of tips. Firstly, it works better if you’re not already stoned when you have it for the first time. So, have it with your first smoke. It’s something about if you already got THC in the system, it’s like a symphony of receptors. It’s very complicated. And so, that’s one thing that we found. Make sure you mix it well with cannabis.
And we encourage people to find their own ratio. We recommend you start with 50/50. We don’t suggest you go less than about 40% Bud Love, well, so you might not get enough CBD in there, but you can go all the way up to the other end. I mean, I think one of the things that maybe people from my generation might relate to is I used to smoke a lot of cannabis in college, and then I couldn’t do it anymore. It wasn’t fun anymore. It was too strong. I used to get anxious and I rediscovered my relationship with cannabis.
I found that, for me, an 80/20 Bud Love cannabis joint is the perfect ratio. I get a nice buzz, but I’m still functional. My kids don’t look at me and say, oh, Daddy’s stoned. I don’t have any paranoia, right? So, find your own ratio and it might surprise you that actually to get the effect you want because I used to smoke cannabis, it was much weaker. I only had 20% cannabis and then now…
Rick Kiley: Right, yeah. Now, that’s good. And so, the website again, where people should go if they want to learn more, just give it one more time.
Roy Lipski: Yeah, website is BudLove, one word, dot-com. And if you want to learn more about the product, go to the learn section on our website.
Rick Kiley: Yeah. I’ve checked it out, the videos are great, very informative. And if you do want it, even the videos on those research studies are really, there’s some nice little videos on there too. It’s really good stuff.
And so, Roy, one thing which your answer to this might be, I don’t really care, but we end all of our videos here, all of our interviews here the same way because we are charting the path towards federal legalization of cannabis in this great United States. We always ask everybody what their thoughts are and when they think it might be legal here. And I realize, maybe it doesn’t matter to you, but perhaps you have some intel, a thought, a perfect notification.
Roy Lipski: Well, I mean, isn’t it legal already?
Rick Kiley: Yeah.
Jeffrey Boedges: Not recreationally, not federally.
Rick Kiley: Not federally.
Jeffrey Boedges: Yeah, yeah.
Roy Lipski: Now, but what I mean is 74% of the US population live in states where they have legal access to cannabis, either medical or recreational. The DEA has totally stepped back from enforcement. They’re happy to let Delta-8 happen. They’re happy to let Delta-9 from hemp happened. They washed their hands of this. I’d say all intents and purposes, it is legal. Politicians just need to catch up, but it’s mean…
Rick Kiley: Yeah, all right. So, that’s a long way of avoiding putting a date on the calendar. That’s okay. We’re already fine. We’re fine. It’s legal already. Actually, I think you’re not the first person is…
Roy Lipski: You’re not the person…
Rick Kiley: At some point…
Roy Lipski: I think the first person who said it really just didn’t know.
Rick Kiley: Well, Roy, this is a really great product. We wish you the very best of luck. If you get to the point where you have a new intake or you got a new partner, like you’ve got that you want to bring back, maybe we can talk again sometime. Everybody’s listening, hope you can check them out. That’s all I got, man. Really good stuff. Best of luck to you. Thanks so much for joining us today.
Roy Lipski: Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.
Jeffrey Boedges: Thank you, Roy.