As the wheels of the cannabis industry turn ever faster, new technologies continue to move from labs to dispensary shelves. For Arizonans, two new edible options are available that utilize a nano-emulsification process.
A quick science lesson: nano-emulsions are described in the National Center for Biotechnology Information as an "advanced mode of drug delivery" in which two liquids are combined by an emulsifying agent—in the cannabis world, this includes THC or CBD oil.
And while this process can result in improved stability and consistency of the product, cannabis users may be most interested in a nano-emulsion's increased bioavailability: the proportion of a drug that is able to have an active effect on the user.
The Scottsdale-based cannabis company Sprinkle by Vantage Biosciences is using this technology for their dissolvable products that can be used in a variety of food and drinks. Sprinkle is a flavorless and odorless product similar to a packet of sugar or salt, and comes in 10 mg servings. Because of the nano-emulsification process, Sprinkle can be absorbed through the mouth, throat and stomach, entering the bloodstream more quickly than traditional edibles, which are processed by the liver after they pass through your digestive system. As a result, Sprinkle's products take effect in only 10 to 15 minutes and utilize more of the THC than traditional edibles.
The idea to use nano-emulsification for cannabis came to Sprinkle CEO Jonathan Tessmar in December 2019. The product was developed throughout 2020, and is now available at dispensaries throughout the state.
"I always loved branding and science, and I wanted to make something tangible, something physical that a consumer could enjoy," said Tessmar, who has a background in biomedicine and the cannabis industry. "With a product that's first to market, you're going to have a very high learning curve and we really had to focus on education to the consumer."
The standard Sprinkle dissolvable is 10 mgs of THC, 0 mgs of CBD, and 0 calories. However, they recently announced their Sprinkle Night Relaxation, which includes 3 mgs of melatonin in addition to their 10 mgs of THC. The company is also planning a "day boost" product with 150 mgs caffeine.
Because of Sprinkle's adaptability to anything from coffee to protein shakes to guacamole, Tessmar says the product allows casual consumers to enjoy cannabis without doing anything they're "not used to doing."
"We're really focusing on being a supplement company that just so happens to use THC as an active ingredient," Tessmar said. "We're trying to segment ourselves away from the traditional wake-and-bake, stoner culture. We want to empower consumers to use cannabis and all of its beneficial properties in their lifestyle. I wanted to develop something that would be tailored to the type of consumer I am."
Looking ahead, Tessmar plans to work with Arizona State University on a clinical trial to test the specifics of Sprinkle's increased bioavailability.
"Not only are we creating a great product, but we want to back the science behind it. I think it's very important to prove the efficacy," Tessmar said. "Once that comes out, I think a lot of consumers are going to migrate away from traditional edibles and toward nano-empowered products."
Sprinkle is available at local dispensaries including Earth's Healing, Harvest and Downtown Dispensary.
Curaleaf, which operates dispensaries in more than 20 states, is also getting into the nano-emulsification game, but rather than a flavorless sprinkle for any consumable, they've unveiled a liquid beverage enhancer similar to MiO. The Curaleaf "Select Squeeze" debuted in late March with four different flavors in a fast-acting water-soluble formula.
"We developed Select Squeeze to address the rising market demand for edibles and beverage products alongside the increasing adoption of cannabis," said Jessie Kater, senior vice president of Manufacturing for Curaleaf. "We wanted to create a great-tasting, fast-acting beverage solution for those who are looking to try cannabis for the first time, or for those seeking alternative forms of consumption."
Curaleaf has developed Select Squeeze over the past year. The product's bottle design features a "fill-and-pour reservoir" to ensure consistent and precise 5 mg servings. Select Squeeze is currently available in lemon lime, watermelon, strawberry lemonade and "hint of sweet" flavors.
Select Squeeze can be found at local dispensaries including Downtown Dispensary, Purple Med, Harvest, Prime Leaf, Bloom, Green Med, Botanica and Nature Med.