BlueKudu Edible Makers Dish on Staying Legal, Tasty, Out of Kids' Hands
The Colorado bakers talk child-resistant packaging and THC and CBD-infused foods
Since long before you baked your first batch of "magic brownies," edibles have been popular within the cannabis community. And marijuana-infused foods have come a long way in that time.
Initially, the role of the edible was to get the human who ate it as stoned as possible. Today's consumable cannabis products are engineered to meet specific functions, and elicit far more predictable effects. In states where weed is legal, entire brands are built around the baked, sometimes medicinal, goods. Weed even comes in cocktails.
Now, the edibles market is a landscape of packaging and dosage regulations. Your old college roommate, Jeff, might not have minded walking through a mine-field when munching down a tray of your famous weed Rice Krispies treats––not knowing which ones would blow his mind, or put him to sleep; or just give him a sugar high. Not the case anymore. Your mom now eats edibles to treat her anxiety. And Jeff has probably moved on to gluten-free, (brown) rice and quinoa-weed krispy treats. But children are also getting their hands and mouths on edibles, and being sent to emergency rooms as a result.
For a look into how the edibles industry can ensure that last part doesn't happen, and to glean insight into the design processes that make edibles packaging child-resistant and sleek––The KIND spoke with Andrew Schrot, CEO of Colorado-based edible makers BlueKudu.
The KIND: What processes does your team implement to legally sell edibles and track the cannabis that goes into them?
Andrew Schrot: The Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division requires all facilities to use the Metrc inventory software. Metrc assures we maintain strict records of all inventory, deliveries, and our test results. We know exactly how much cannabis we have on-site at any given moment and how many of our premium chocolate bars have been produced and delivered to the hundreds of dispensaries around the state that carry our brand. If an auditor were to come in right this minute and demand records dating back five years, we would have no trouble providing that information immediately.
We triple-test every batch we produce; first insisting the cannabis we use proves to be pesticide and microbial free, second we test the THC and CBD we extract from the plants using a natural ethanol-based process for potency, and finally we test for homogeneity so that each breakable 10-mg square of chocolate has an equal amount of THC and CBD. The state requires edible cannabis to test within 15 percent of its labeled potency. BlueKudu aims to be within 5 percent of our labeled amount.
The KIND: And how is compliance regulated and enforced?
Andrew Schrot: The state Marijuana Enforcement Division performs detailed inspections at facilities across the state to ensure all regulations are consistently followed. Potential infractions may lead to a citation and a timeline to come into compliance, or your license may be suspended or revoked immediately. On October 1, the state of Colorado will begin enforcing new rules for universal symbol packaging, labeling and on-product marking of edibles.
The KIND: Can you provide some insight into the process of designing child-resistant packaging?
Andrew Schrot: We started researching options several months ago and chose a rectangular shaped sturdy paper box with a special plastic insert manufactured by a company called EcoBliss, in the Netherlands.
The KIND: Why the Netherlands?
Andrew Schrot: When it comes to technology in safety packaging, specifically for edible cannabis products, the options are limited. We decided to look at European companies and were not surprised to find a good one in the Netherlands, where marijuana consumption has been publicly tolerated since 1976.
At the same time, since this new package is bar-shaped and we were previously using a cylindrical canister, we decided to rebrand the BlueKudu look. Also, the new universal symbol requirement forced us to enlarge the size of our bars by 33 percent in order to fit that stamp on each individual 10-mg chocolate square. The universal symbol must be a minimum size of ¼” by ¼” and must be marked into each individual 10-mg chocolate square.
The KIND: As an edible-maker, can you describe the logistics of navigating the state's seed-to-sale program?
Andrew Schrot: We regularly consult with two legal groups to help us stay on top of the changing regulations and develop best practices to ensure we never have a legal problem. Having two attorneys allows us to compare their advice and feel assured we are making the right moves.
We have established a culture of compliance and quality control checkpoints within our operation. While we enjoy what we do, we are serious about running a tight ship in terms of adhering to protocols for handling our products throughout the production and distribution channels.
The KIND: What would BlueKudu need to do in order to expand to other cannabis-legal states and remain legal?
Andrew Schrot: Until cannabis becomes legal at the federal level, we will not be able to manufacture products in Colorado for distribution to other states. Cannabis cannot cross state lines; so we must work within each individual state’s regulations. Some states require owners to be a state resident. For such states, we may license our brand products to legally licensed manufacturers within the state. Attorneys from both states are involved in ensuring out-of-state deals meet all of the regulations.
The KIND: How does BlueKudu target CBD's, while including minimal THC in its products, such as the Black Forest bar we tried in Boulder?
Andrew Schrot: Our research found that consumers were looking for a product that offered a high CBD to low THC ratio. The Black Forest black cherry, dark chocolate bar you tried at the Mason Jar event is our 60 mg CBD to 1 mg THC product. Feedback has shown consumers enjoy the CBD medicinal benefits without the cerebral high. This bar really speaks to our slogan “unwind anytime” and is one of our best sellers.
The KIND: What are some of the issues you've faced thus far as an entrepreneur in a nascent industry?
Andrew Schrot: We purchased and remodeled a new facility to include a grow operation, now that we’ve outgrown our current space, but due to the massive expansion of the industry here, the Denver building department has fallen behind in processing construction permits. We hoped to be in our new facility by the end of spring, but now it is looking like the end of this summer.
The next issue we expect to face is the possible rescheduling of cannabis and the impact that will have on the current industry. It appears there are a few options on the table, depending on a reschedule or down-schedule or cannabis.