Picture complete confidence about feeling exactly the same effect, every time, from any form of medical cannabis or being able to anticipate a particular sensation before consuming. That’s Evergreen, Colorado-based ebbu’s objective.
Jon Cooper, the company’s chief executive officer, has had an on- again, off-again relationship with the plant since high school but, when he turned 30 and settled down with a wife and kids, the idea of ingesting a psychoactive substance that produced unpredictable effects worried him. So, he put his experience as a technologist and scientist to work in an effort to change the cannabis industry.
Cooper incorporated ebbu in 2013 and set out on a mission, reasoning that meeting consumers’ desire for consistency and transparency would increase product confidence and help the industry thrive. He describes ebbu as “a multi-platform cannabinoid technology company that is redefining cannabis cultivation [by] transforming the supply line and designing lab-tested medicinal and adult-use product formulations.”
In the beginning, Cooper suspected consumers—and consequently, those creating and selling products—would demand both recreational and medical products contain a precise combination of cannabinoids and terpenes in order to produce a consistently safe experience. To address the issues, he hired experienced lab technicians and scientists for the research team. Chief Science Officer Dr. Brian Reid, an eighteen-year veteran of pharmacology research, oversees the company’s chemistry, chromatography, cellular pharmacology, human pharmacology, and genetics investigations. Andrew Schedain serves as chief innovations officer and patent attorney, and Rob Rosko manages the genetics lab.
“Rob is basically reinventing how we see and use the plant,” Cooper said.
Director of Clinical Pharmacology Dr. Jon Martin directs cellular research. Together, the team has created more than forty cannabis-related patents representing more than 1,500 inventions.
Cellular pharmacology, genetics, delivery systems
A stickler for details, Cooper meets often with lab personnel. He said he looks forward to briefings about the latest findings and frequently is beguiled by the effects cannabinoids and terpenes have on receptor cells. Late at night, his mind races with the nearly endless potential for developing new combinations.
“We’re always analyzing and perfecting which formulations create specific reactions,” he said.
ebbu recently began growing human receptors “to test pharmacological and poly-pharmacological reactions to many different cannabinoid and terpene blends,” Cooper revealed. The tests are vital to hone custom formulas for clients. So far, ebbu has concentrated on conditions such as anxiety, insomnia, and pain. To ensure “trust,” the company performs double-blind studies.
Always looking for competitive advantages, Cooper insisted ebbu heavily invest in families of patented genetics that boost cannabinoid power and the delivery technology to implement the process. “Our lab-tested, water-soluble cannabinoid technology is uniquely made to produce fast, consistent, and specific sensations—energy, chill, bliss, creative, alive—every time,” he said.
Getting in the hemp game
In April, Cooper made a strategic decision to branch out into the hemp field, a sector he feels is on the verge of massive growth. After many months of research, he came to the conclusion 70 to 80 percent of cannabinoids for medical and adult uses likely will come from hemp in the future. “You still have to get THC from marijuana plants,” he said, “but that’s only one of dozens of active compounds. All the rest we can get from hemp. There will still be premium marijuana products, but the supply side will become mainly a commodities marketplace.”
Determined to get cutting-edge hemp and CBD genetics into the marketplace quickly, ebbu partnered with Colorado Cultivars, the largest hemp farm in the state with more than 2,000 acres of crops. Cooper was attracted not only by the farm’s size, but also by its history of organic, sustainable farming. Under the partnership, Colorado Cultivars will grow up to 400,000 cannabinoid-rich hemp plants on 250 acres. The first crop will comprise two specific genetic strains. One produces large amounts of CBD, and the other produces cannabigerol (CBG), a lesser-known but powerful cannabinoid.
“From the hemp, we will extract the cannabinoids we need to make our patented formulations to sell to other companies,” Cooper said. “Colorado Cultivars is well known as a processor, so we’ll rely on them to process and distribute while ebbu supplies the technology platform.”
ebbu will provide inoculated plants known as “mothers” to Colorado Cultivars, which will plant, grow, and process clones under the guidance of ebbu’s scientists.
While Cooper is bullish on CBD, which he suspects may become bigger than the THC market, he doesn’t expect a large market for CBG-only products. He pointed out that CBD and CBG are simply ingredients, like sugar or eggs in baking: Having access to more ingredients exponentially increases the number and variety of cookies one can make. As a standalone ingredient CBG’s growth may be limited, but as an added one it could prove to be a powerhouse.
“CBG could potentially end up in over 50 percent of formulations that will be on the market,” Cooper noted.
Trust the terpenes
Having been in and around the tech business most of his life, Cooper knows machines are just tools that come and go. For him, the great value is understanding how the parts of the cannabis plant work together. From that foundation, he can move on to other questions. What genetics and new technologies will best suit the consumer experience? On which ailments should ebbu focus? How can products meet consumer demands every time? The answers require tireless research and trust—two things Cooper knows a lot about, having staked his business’s survival on them.
“Consumers are trying to sort through CBD and THC products; trying to figure out what’s safe and reliable and what claims are legitimate,” he said. “Our goal is to become the symbol for safe, consistent experiences and a symbol of trust for the industry.”
Earning trust leaves little room for error. While it’s not a mantra at the company, everyone is mindful of the saying “trust takes a lifetime to gain and a second to lose.”
Cooper is eager to be part of helping consumers take back their health back from Big Pharma. He’s enthusiastic about creating high-tech medicine from an ancient plant. “We’re at the epicenter of understanding pharmacologically how this stuff works,” he said. “And we’re only at the tip of the iceberg. That’s exciting.”