For decades, cannabis was classified by the United Nations as a drug with high potential for abuse and no medical value. The plant was included under Schedule I and IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs alongside psychotropic and even potentially fatal such as cocaine and fentanyl.
After more than 50 years of restricted research, almost no access to medical cannabis, and a crescendo of cannabis-related arrests and police seizures, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched in-depth research into the plant, announcing in 2018 that Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive derivative of the cannabis plant, should be removed from all schedules.
Today, medical cannabis is decriminalized or legalized in over 20 countries, and millions of people every year are consuming the drug recreationally – that is, just for fun.
One Israeli team is ready to enter the recreational market with a line of CBD products that will expand on the definition of cannabis “edibles” from snacks like brownies and gummies to an entire breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Cannibble FoodTech Ltd., based in the central city of Kfar Saba and founded in 2018 by CEO Yoav Bar Joseph, CTO Elad Barkan, CFO Asaf Porat and VP of Business Development Ziv Turner, is creating over 100 CBD-infused, powder-based instant mixes for baking, beverages and spices. These can be used to make quick-mix shakes, pancakes, popcorn butter, falafel, iced and hot drinks, toppings and so on.
Cannibble, pronounced “can nibble” for cannabis and nibble (and not “cannibal,” thank heavens), calls itself the “industrial connection between cannabis and foodtech,” and infuses its premixed foods, beverages, and nutritional supplements with CBD and delta 9-tetrahydorcannabinol (THC) in a controlled and measured dosage.
“Edibles are a delivery system, just like suppositories, ointments, topicals, capsules,” Turner tells NoCamels. “It’s a smoking replacement for active cannabinoids. We have to remember that all consumers like to eat and drink. If people don’t like to smoke, they can have another option on the shelf,”
Edibles of all kinds, for all kinds
Saul Kaye, a cannabis expert and founder of cannabis tech startup accelerator iCAN, says edibles are an exploding market right now as consumers are always looking for new ways to consume cannabis. But, there are still challenges and consumers may wonder how they will be affected by them.
“Smoking is consistent, it’s measurable – puff once, puff twice, puff three times,” Kaye tells NoCamels. “With edibles, there’s a variance in how they get absorbed and that’s one of the challenges. A 10-milligram capsule might affect me differently each time that I take it.”
The effects of consumption vary among users, like any other medication. Turner addresses this by saying Cannibble’s products contain the “perfect dosage” in every serving, whether the product is a single serving or larger.
Cannabis consumers can generally choose between products with only CBD, or products that also contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive derivative of the cannabis plant.
Cannibble’s dry powder line, under the brand name The Pelicann, will offer both CBD and THC products, as well as products containing hemp, a strain of the cannabis plant with no psychoactive properties. Each type of product offers its own benefits, Turner explains.
“THC is the psychoactive one, it gets you high, but also THC is one of the best painkillers,” Turner explains. He says both have medical qualities. “CBD is anti-inflammatory, it helps with glaucoma, epilepsy,” and other conditions.
The hemp products are high in protein and fiber, and will feature low sugar, low-calorie shakes, power bars, and granola mixes, targeting athletes and the trendy wellness market in the US.
Because Cannibble is restricted from distributing its products within Israel, the startup will have its primary production facilities in California and Florida. While Israel is at the forefront of medical cannabis research, recreational use is still not legal, and the recent approval of exports has done little for the medical cannabis consumption market.
“There’s still a lot of uncertainty in the market in terms of investment, until it happens…the money’s not really going to flow,” Kaye says of Israel’s cannabis export production, which he admits hasn’t fully come to fruition yet. “That hurts the industry, it hurts the economy, and the government is missing out on the massive opportunity to actualize on this now.”
The CBD and hemp powders are expected to hit the shelves of American supermarket chains such as Walmart, Publix and 7-Eleven, as well as dispensaries, as soon as the end of 2019. Manufacturing and distributing of THC products, Turner said, will have to be determined state by state. While the use and sale of cannabis containing over 0.3 percent THC is currently illegal under federal jurisdiction in the United States, several states have decriminalized and even legalized recreational use, including Oregon, Colorado, and California.
Kaye says California is the most important recreational market in the world right now.
“That’s where legalized cannabis is interesting,” Kaye continues. “If you can make it in California, you can make it anywhere in the world.”
And Cannibble is ready to tap into California’s burgeoning recreational cannabis market. In June, the California-based vertically integrated cannabis platform and contract manufacturer Natura Life + Science announced a partnership with the Israeli company to make its products available in the Golden State beginning in the third quarter of 2019.
“We are excited to partner with such a professional group of cannabis experts as Natura,” Yoav Bar Joseph said in the statement announcing the partnership. “We can’t wait to see our products available for the first time in the US.”
“Natura is committed to manufacturing products that are safe, high-quality and consistent – products consumers can trust,” said Ori Bytton, Natura founder and CEO. “Our partnership with Cannibble allows us to offer our contact manufacturing partners and consumers unique cannabis food products they won’t find anywhere else. We will bring a whole new level of edible offerings to market.”
Looking to the edible future
Turner says Cannibble is already planning its expansion to the rest of the world and its planned initial public offering (IPO) with the Canadian Stock Exchange at the end of 2020’s first quarter is just the first step. He says they are looking to eventually expand throughout all of North America and Europe with the company’s CBD products.
“We have to remember Europe is a big place,” Turner says. “We have to be very choosy with what we do right now because we are a small company. This is why we are doing a public fundraising round to cover all those opportunities.”