How a couple of savvy entrepreneurs discovered a new, and possibly improved, way to consume cannabis.
March 19, 2019 5 min read
We talked with Case Mandel, co-founder of the California-based Cannadips company, about his product's origin story and development, and how it may be a better consumption method than vapes and edibles.
Describe what Cannadips is.
Cannadips come in a small fiber pouch that kind of looks like a chewing tobacco pouch. But they're much smaller and modeled after Swedish Snus. The pouch is made of coconut fiber, essential oils, monk fruit, and the dry tincture. We have three flavors: American, Citrus, and Mint (which comes in THC and CBD)
How does it work?
When you put the product in your mouth, it gets absorbed under the tongue and into the back of the mouth, where there is the buccal artery. We believe this causes it to go directly to the brain and bypass the liver completely. We don't know what percent of our products get absorbed in the mouth verse the gut at this point. There is some small level of the delayed absorption, but, unlike edibles, our product is rapid acting.
Image credit: Cannadips
How is this delivery system different?
The cannabinoids in cannabis are fat soluble. So generally to intake these products, they need to either be combusted –which has a harmful effect, get combined into food products and are eaten. The problem with consuming things through the digestive system is that it goes through your liver and can be super psychoactive. In developing Cannadips, we were introduced to a couple of chemists who found a way to make the cannabinoids water dispersible, meaning that they dispersed in liquid or saliva. This increased their bioavailability, or how much you absorb into the bloodstream. We propose that our product gets absorbed under the tongue and in the back of the mouth in the b buccal artery that goes directly to the brain and bypasses the liver completely. So in the whole process of trying to create weed dips, we embarked on this little-known journey: How to create a fast-acting bioavailable efficacious way to consume cannabinoids.
How did you come up with the idea for Cannadips?
My co-founder Cliff Sammet, who has always been a brilliant outside-the-box thinker, came up with the idea. He called it “Weed Dips.” Initially, I hated the name, but I thought it was a brilliant idea. I thought it had probably been done five or six times already, but when we went online, we couldn't find anything. I saw this as an opportunity, not just another flower brand or vape pen or cookie, but something that had potential.
Did you use regular smokeless tobacco?
Yeah, we grew up in Santa Cruz, California, which is considered Surf City, USA. In the surfer community, a majority of men dipped tobacco. That was a ritual. But it's highly addictive and not good for you. So that's something that we were trying to find a solution for. Something that people can use to help them get off smokeless tobacco or use as an adjunct to smokeless tobacco. That was our original idea. Little did we know, at that point, there was so much more to it. We were designing a much more effective delivery system.
What were some of your first steps?
We raised $150,000 and started to design the brand. We invested in a machine from India that takes our mulch and matrix and shoots it into the pouch. We sourced tins from the Netherlands, and then we embarked on product development, working with an amazing chemist for 9 to 12 months improving the product.
Did you face any challenges early on?
The initial challenges were testing, especially on the THC side. We've developed entirely new technology and process, and when we take our finished product to a lab, it's hard for them to test what's in it because it's an emulsion that they don't know how to break down. So there's a lot of unreliability with testing because we're not a normal form factor of a flower or a simple oil.
Another early challenge was how much opposition we would face from the gatekeepers. There's a stigma around tobacco and dip. So we've had to spend a lot of time educating about our product how it works, doing tons of demo days statewide, so people understand what this product is and isn't.
Did you encounter the same problem with your CBD product?
We haven't had that issue. We're sold in 40-plus states in at least 1,500 to 2,000 stores nationwide, and that's growing at a rapid rate. We just picked up a large chain in Pennsylvania. There isn't as much of a stigma in other states.
Any advice for future cannabis entrepreneurs?
If there's someone in the industry, some company, a new idea or technology that excites you, don't hesitate to reach out. Do some due diligence, go to the website find out who's in charge of that company and send them an email. Tell them how excited you are about what they're doing. Ask pertinent questions. Cannabis is such a young, new industry that when I get emails from people out there who have a general passion and excitement for what we're doing or just for other things in the industry, I take my time to respond. So I think taking some initiative and reaching out is key.