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In Summary

Robert Johnson & Trish Hill with Custom Capsule Consultants join us on the HempList this week, hosted By Chase Nobles, Founder of Kush.com

Starting back in 2008, Robert talks about how he got started working with edibles in California, and how that evolved into the current legal marketplace. Robert was one of the founding members of the NCIA and was active in working on cannabis legalizations from state to state. Now with Custom Capsule Consultants Robert & Trish Hill help provide white label capsule services for brands as well as provide their own line of unique products. Trish talks about their philosophy behind designing new products, gives advice for new brands, and even talks about some under utilized product categories in the space. Finally Robert discusses some of the challenges of producing capsules in house and how they have even been working on providing Vegan Capsules!

CCC combines unrivaled executive leadership with cutting-edge scientific development to spearhead the next major hemp extract product category: softgel supplements. Our team of nationally-recognized scientists work with you to develop custom hemp extract-based softgels to address specific ailments or target markets.

CCC also offers end-to-end product development, manufacturing, branding and marketing solutions to businesses and start-ups looking to enter this booming industry.

customcapsuleconsultants.com

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Transcript (Auto-Generated)

hey everybody chase nobles here founder
of kush.com i’ve got bob johnson and
trish hill on the show with us today
super excited about it from custom
capsule consultants
you can probably guess what they do if
you need soft gels they are the company
to work with bob trish great to have you
on the show today
thanks for having us thanks a lot chase
appreciate it man
well let’s kick this off right um bob i
kind of want to turn it over to you
right out of the gate how did you get
into this business um him and canvas
came out of nowhere
and the soft gels and capsules have
become such a big category
what got you started down this path to
be doing what you’re doing now
yeah okay i’ll try and give you the
condensed version i i graduated from
college in 2008
and uh barack obama won the election
then in november the day he won the
election
my
my college buddy and i decided to move
to los angeles and we saw a huge
opportunity for cannabis changing in
california and really being the uh you
know the first state uh leading the way
towards legalization
and uh so what my uh my best bud uh is
uh as a grower up and humble and so you
know i was meeting people in la bringing
uh bringing bud from humboldt there but
after like eight years of the george
bush administration people are very
weary of working with people they didn’t
know right like hey we only work with
our friends i was like well how do i get
to be friends with you guys
uh so we started an edibles company
called i can’t believe it’s pot butter
and started making a bunch of brownies
and caramel corn uh for starters and
literally buttering up uh dispensary
owners by giving them free baked goods
and once you give somebody you know a
really quality edible a handful of times
then we accomplish the mission of what i
was trying to do is become their friend
and you know i thought it would be a way
to uh to be able to
you know
sell the cannabis in the stores
but really the brand and the edibles
took off and that became
uh
our first company
uh we started a a trade association back
then in 2009 because when you would go
and do a
into a dispensary at the time and look
at edibles they all had like their own
made-up system of measuring strength you
know literally it would say like oh this
brownie is uh
xxxl or this uh this root beer is like
you know platinum strength and you’re
just like have no idea what to expect
from it right and since uh the 60s it
seems like everybody’s experience with
edibles goes one of two ways or usually
usually both in the same night right you
take a little bit of a brownie like i’m
not really feeling it yet maybe i’ll eat
a little bit more and then an hour later
you’re just like on aladdin’s carpet you
know how did i get here
uh so we wanted to have you know
a measured way of being able to
anticipate or predict what an edible is
going to do for you
so we started a trade association for
edibles manufacturers called capski the
california association for the
production of safe cannabis edibles and
we uh we invited like all the biggest
edibles manufacturers in the state to
meet with us at steep hill laboratories
in oakland which was one of the first
labs that was testing cannabis
and and we contacted them and we told
them what we wanted to do and we said
you know the the rule the one of the
only rules is going to be that that
every company has to test every batch of
edibles and then you know put the
test results on the labels and for steep
hill they’re like wow this is great this
is a ton of new business for us sounds
awesome
and so that’s how
milligrams on edibles started back in
2009
and so it’s uh it’s really evolved from
there um
one of the uh the founders of a company
i work for next called tetralabs uh
there’s this wild-eyed scientist from
silicon valley that was growing and
making a thc extract
and they were actually using his extract
as a thc standard at steep hill labs
because it was some of the strongest
stuff they had seen it they were the
first ones using fractal distillation to
make the clear or gold looking thc oil
you know back 12 13 years ago
and uh and so we got invited to the
steep hill christmas party that year
after starting the the trade association
and met this guy at the christmas party
he has this you know tiny vial of this
gold oil and uh and we saw a real
opportunity there
and so uh co-founded tetra labs with him
we started making uh
soft gel capsules uh as soon as late
2009 and you know we just wanted to
bring more credibility to a medicine
that you know for so many people is so
important and life-changing but just as
long as you can measure it then people
who want to try it are not going to have
that experience or hopefully not have
that experience where you know they
either took way too little or way too
much you know we want to be the uh the
goldilocks of uh of helping people find
their the right dose
wow okay so
there’s a lot to unpack here first off
mendocino county humboldt county trinity
county all
that whole area back in 2008 2009 must
have been so rowdy it was rowdy two
years ago when i went down there totally
it’s still a pretty
opaque
area when it comes to being an outsider
you know if you know a couple of people
you’re a little bit better off but
i definitely had some sketchy times in
that zone purely because they didn’t
know who i was right i only knew a few
of the farmers in the area and if you’re
you know pulling the wrong driveway it
can be really sketchy so props to you
for going up there in that time zone
because that probably was
pretty hairy you know i can imagine you
had some experiences up there secondly
edibles early on in this market i mean
when you’re talking about that time that
time frame
this is the beginning of
commercialization of the market you know
there’s always been the person that
makes some brownies
in their backpack you know and walks
around to those different dispensaries
and most of the stuff bought at that
time was somebody in a with a backpack
you know kind of delivering them right
it was
kind of wild what was that what was the
market like to start a business in at
that point because i mean it must have
been really closed off
oh yeah we were no exception to the
backpack i we you know i literally had
seventeen hundred dollars
and uh maxed out my credit cards we
could only afford one uh you know
medical license at the time my uh my
business partner would take a cooler on
the metro subway and just be like well
i’m not coming home until this is empty
uh and just had that that
entrepreneurial spirit but yeah lots of
lots of funny stories for sure uh both
in humboldt and uh you know on the metro
with uh
you know
three dozen ten dozen uh edibles
yeah never a dull moment edibles of
unlimited potency back then too i mean
it was truly
commercialized you know
take you to another realm potency it was
just so wild to see the market at that
stage because there was very little
regulations the milligrams and
building an organization to push the
market towards that
had to really change things what was
that experience like working you know
talking with the state and other product
manufacturers that may or may not want
to to do the testing because
it really wasn’t required at that point
yeah well i mean i the everybody that
came to capski really agreed that it was
a good idea and in 2010
you know california or at least the
people who were in the industry were
really anticipating that we would be the
first state to legalize uh you know we
tried in 2010 which was a midterm
election and lost a close uh
vote
and then of course colorado and
was the first one to get
legalization but yeah we were one of the
founding members of uh ncia
uh
national cannabis industry association
you know shared an apartment with uh
with aaron smith the president of that
association up in seattle just so you
know we could be
mobile in uh in these states that were
next to legalize you know it’s very uh
it’s very uh
cool feeling to be around people like
really uh on the activism side you know
fighting for this this righteous cause
that they believe in and it opens up you
know a new commercial
industry but uh but you know you really
had to have some passion
for it to uh to fight that fight
uh to be where it is now i got to vote
on the callers i got to vote on that
colorado legalization bill and then in
the time between it was implemented when
i voted i moved to washington and got to
be a part of legislation you know
being enacted up here and it was just
an incredible time you know everybody
was kind of coming together
medical versus wreck and you know kind
of all the battles that then sued and we
were the first ones to do it up here
with colorado and so it’s just this
whole
whole
crazy crazy time now let’s get down to
kind of what you’re doing now because
the capsule market
seems to be
where this market really is going
capsules talk topicals and
smoke a flower obviously um a vapes you
know pretty big part of the market as
well
but capsules seem to be very appealing
to a specific demographic what have you
seen when it comes to the market what’s
the target demographic here of the
people that are choosing capsules over
any other product type
we actually see a pretty um wide
demographic range for our product lines
because we offer through our brand cbd
is better a variety of formulas that fit
different needs so ranging from focus to
sleep to sex enhancement we even have a
hangover supplement that we offer and so
where um i think when in my experience
working in dispensaries formerly to
becoming um a part of the manufacturing
process
um i’d see an older clientele gravitate
towards capsules or a more
health-conscious consumer base someone
who maybe wants the benefit of a
cannabis edible without the additional
sugar food coloring other additives that
you can find in a gummy or a chocolate
bar or a brownie what have you um the
softgels also offer um back to what bob
uh said was a huge priority and has been
throughout his career um soft gels are
more easily dosable right we can
guarantee with quite a bit of precision
exactly how much of a cannabinoid is
being encapsulated
and so it’s generally a safer more
consistent approach to cannabis use
so if we look at the broader picture for
you know why we have the endocannabinoid
system right if we want to continually
supplement our bodies with something
like cbd
to allow it to build over time to be
able to use it consistently to know that
you’re getting you know the exact same
product every time is really invaluable
right
robert i have a question about capsules
versus edibles that you have a lot of
experience in both um when it comes to
the consistency of the dosage in an
edible
can can edible production be consistent
or is that just an impossible task can
it be as consistent as a capsule or is
capsule kind of the standard if you want
the exact same dosage every time
if you’re producing large batches of
let’s say
you know cookies or something like that
can you actually
you know kind of
nail down the dosage every single time
or will it not necessarily distribute
evenly throughout the whole mix
uh it’s it’s you can make a brownie
batch pretty homogenous if it’s mixed
sufficiently
you know
in any lab they’ll usually
have a disclaimer on their coa if they
don’t they they should
that uh that any test results you know
are you plus or minus 10
so if you’re going
you’re making a 50 milligram cookie uh
getting between 45 and 55 milligrams
consistently is not that hard
um but that’s why you know they have uh
uh required testing for this stuff i
mean yeah i guess it’s not that hard to
to mess it up either you just have to do
it correctly
have a good process all right trish i
want to turn it back over to you because
you listed so many different products
just a second ago
um targeting a wide range of
demographics um when you look at this as
a you know being the director of
marketing
how do you think about the different
products that you offer and is it uh
do you go in with a target demographic
in mind and how if anybody else is out
there thinking about you know starting a
capsule company how do you how do you
suggest that they build their brands
around um being
you know one of the many capsule brands
out there
well i think one of the challenges with
um something like cbd
is that um it has such a broad
variety of benefits
um so there are several different
applications that you can have and that
does fit a very wide demographic i mean
if you look at
anything from you know charlotte’s web
that was originally developed to help
children with seizures right um all the
way to
um topicals for instance i don’t want to
go too far out of other product lines
but what i’m saying is you know
we
we kind of
wanted to develop products that we
wanted to see on the market
right we
and we also saw that um with cbd itself
a lot of the claims that manufacturers
will make or um brands will make is that
you have to wait for the cbd to build up
in your system over time um that you may
not notice the effects of the cbd right
away um you might not actually not
notice until after you’ve discontinued
use
and um we just thought that was
unacceptable so um bob uh worked in
conjunction with a um
with a formulist who um has
studied
chinese medicine who has uh studied all
of these other vitamins that have these
practical applications that you can feel
when you use them
so we’ve created these supplements that
are enhanced with cbd that will provide
effects that you feel the first time and
every time
so um we wanted to have products that
were bold and do what they say they do
just like we are so that was kind of at
the um at the crux of of these products
and
um like i said we
our sleep and our focus formulas are
very popular because those are a lot of
the uh those products supplement a lot
of the issues that people deal with
every day but the ones that we haven’t
really seen on the market have been our
sex enhancement supplements and our
hangover supplements
and i think if you are looking to get
into manufacturing that’s what you
should focus on are
innovative products on something that
maybe not everyone has considered using
cbd for or cbd with
we um have we don’t consider ourselves
just to be a cbd company we are an
alternative wellness supplement
manufacturer right so we don’t make
products just with cbd right we make
products with kratom we make products
with other cannabinoids
and we have just started developing
products with um neotropic mushrooms as
well
right on that sounds amazing so what i’m
hearing is to target the need target the
the problem that you’re trying to
solve or or the solution that you’re
trying to fill for
um whatever consumer might be dealing
with and hopefully the fda has some
innovations of their own to get this uh
a little bit more uh
qualified from their standpoint as you
know a supplement in the future that
would be amazing uh bob i want to turn
it back over to you
when it comes to the manufacturing side
because
oh there we go when it comes to the
manufacturing side producing capsules in
large quantities
sounds
maybe
easier in some ways and more difficult
in some ways than other product types
what are the challenges that you’ve
dealt with on the manufacturing side is
there a difference between the
cannabinoids or different ingredients
and how they react
for example i know cbg crystallizes
really easily compared to cbd and things
like that what what is what has been
your experience on the manufacturing
side for somebody considering working
with capsules either doing it themselves
or contracting somebody to a white label
solution what do you see there
yeah well uh you know we we chose
getting into soft girls because we had
experience with it and we saw that there
was a lot of cbd white label
manufacturers on the market making uh
you know the the lotions and tinctures
and vaporizers but there was very few
actually making soft gels and you know
the reason we got into soft gels is we
believe cannabis and kratom and these
other plants can be used as medicine and
you know you once once that medicine
evolves i don’t know you know maybe
we’ll always see vapes but you don’t see
like uh zoloft being vaped or prozac in
a brownie uh so we figure that that soft
gels and capsules are going to be the
way that that medicine will always be
taken in the future
um but as far as uh as
issues with uh with manufacturing we
have uh we have seen them all uh you
know with tetra labs we always did
gelatin soft gels and we wanted to
challenge ourselves you know again to
you know become experts in a niche of
the market that was not filled with a
million competitors so we uh we taught
ourselves vegan soft gel manufacturing
and if you just google vegan soft gels
like we found out pretty quickly there’s
a reason why 99.99
of soft gels on the market are gelatin
because vegan is extremely difficult to
work with relatively
uh you know it’s a lot it’s a lot
stickier you need
a perfect humidity and temperature
conditions
to manufacture it and so
we uh the the way we got good at it was
failing at it about 50 to 75 times um so
that was tough you know get up uh for
for weeks and months in a row and uh you
know uh with soft shell manufacturing
too it’s not like you tinctures you you
mix some stuff up you put in a measuring
cup you pour it in a in a bottle uh it’s
a 16 hour day you have to wait for the
for the gel or the starch to get to
temperature which takes about six hours
and then you you know dial in the
machine which is which is pretty
precision instrument uh you make the
pills for three four hours and then you
have to break down clean and sanitize
this big machine with about as many
parts as an automobile
um so
so yeah that’s that’s tough uh from a
business perspective when at the end of
the day you you know have only spent
money and don’t have anything really to
show for it
so uh so yeah i would uh i would advise
anyone to uh probably just outsource
their soft gels but if you do want to
learn about it we we do teach people too
it sounds like one of those things
the more you learn the less you’re going
to want to do it yourself because
that’s a short day for how much work
goes into the prep and cleanup you know
i assumed it was gonna be a challenge i
didn’t realize it was gonna be that much
of a challenge but i guess you’re
dealing with something that small right
it does have to be very precise and you
know obviously sans hairy and everything
else but the audi you can’t do that by
hand it has to be all automated it’s not
like you’re just pouring a tincture into
a bottle with a with a dropper cap
wow
wow unbelievable and
my my final big question which trish
alluded to earlier was the
uh nootropic mushrooms and what you’re
looking at there are you talking you
know full psilocybin mushrooms or are
you saying more lions made and things
like that how frontier are you going
with this uh this category
well uh we are definitely
meeting a lot of activists in uh cities
and states that are decriminalizing
psilocybin mushrooms we personally uh
uh consume them and are really
interested in the future of uh of that
becoming a commercial industry um
there’s a lot of
um different sides uh to that that are
trying to make it um
you know good for everybody uh and we
hope to you know be participate in that
industry when it becomes a legal option
to do so but in the meantime you know
we’ve also learned a lot about uh lions
main chaga rishi cordyceps turkey tail
uh so many of these fungi species that
studies show
grow your brain cells
and you know as always
growing up especially you know with
parents that didn’t approve of my pot
smoking they’re like you know you’re
gonna kill your brain cells and they’re
never growing back and if you swallow
your gum it’s gonna take seven years to
digest
uh it turns out that the gum thing is
not true and uh and there is a way to
grow back your brain cells and that’s
the that’s with
functional mushrooms
that’s amazing i i love that aspect of
the story i i wish you all the best
success you know sounds like you’ll have
a great um process and business and
downstream demand and i’m really excited
to see what you all do over the next
year or so and uh thank you so much for
your time on the interview today trish
bob it’s been a pleasure talking with
you all
pleasure talking with you chase and
thank you for building this platform i i
really think it’s uh the best one out
there right now connecting manufacturers
with brands and companies and everybody
should check out cush.com
well i appreciate that i didn’t build it
myself it’s been a whole team effort but
it is my baby and uh
it’s been a wild ride as you can imagine
as well so thank you so much for those
kind words that means everything to us
we wouldn’t be the platform that we are
without companies like you all on it so
thank you again pleasure talking to you
good luck we’ll see you soon
appreciate you chase thank you