CEOCFO Magazine Interview...
It’s not Safe unless it’s CannaVault™ Safe.
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine
Published – April 25, 2022
CEOCFO: Mr. McAndrew, what is the vision behind CannaVault™ Systems?
Child safety, mold and bug contamination and the breakdown of essential oils (turpenes) are real concerns with cannabis storage. CannaVault Systems Inc. was created to take care of these concerns and bring safe storage practices to the cannabis industry.
CEOCFO: How did you decide where to start?
It was a morning just before Christmas 2017 and we were discussing the upcoming legalization of cannabis and how we could get in on the completely new industry being created. One of us, I can’t remember who, says: “They use CO2 in the food industry for freshness, what if we could make a storage box using CO2, then it would stay fresh. If we have it controlled by a phone app it would add security and all the extras that a phone app does. There are several gasses that we could have chosen for replacing the oxygen for storage, but CO2 is the most readily available on a retail.
After several “napkin drawings, our idea and drawings were for a deluxe personal a multi-drawer system and during the initial phase of prototyping it was suggested to get one drawer working first. This minor setback became an advantage, as it opened up the idea of a component system which would speed up development, add more products and open up a wider customer base. Someone could purchase a CO2 unit, then later add a non-CO2 unit for edibles, each being controlled and monitored by the singe phone app. No keys to lose or passwords to forget.
CEOCFO: What have you developed?
We have developed several high-end personal storage devices for the cannabis market that are secure from unauthorized access using a phone app and keep the product in the best condition possible.
When creating something that no one has done before, there is quite a bit of trial and error/research and development. We have a person on our team that is designing and building, from scratch, the circuit boards and programing our products. Our product designer takes our ideas and develops the proper drawings and logistics to build the design for assembly.
CO2 is a highly permeable gas which could leak through many materials and we have had to develop a way to hold the CO2 from leakage and loss.
CEOCFO: Do you see the child safety and the contamination equally important overall?
Yes. Both are equally important as they involve consumer health and safety.
Child safety is a very big concern. Some people might argue that the cannabis is benign or not harmful or there has been no deaths. That might be true but it still does not eliminate those concerns. We do not want children or even pets getting into this kind of thing. As an adult it is fine. Our phone app will cover that by restricting access along with adding future features for upgrades that phone apps can do.
Concerning contamination; during fall harvest, there can be mold spores floating in the air everywhere. They might not be noticeable when you harvest but when you store your cannabis in an airtight situation to keep it fresh, any moisture in there could get it growing again. Mold and bugs need oxygen to survive and if you replace the oxygen with CO2, then that will not happen. Science is getting into it now and finding that within the first year of storing cannabis, it can lose up to 22% or 23% of its value through oxidation and heat. When storing it with the CO2 you also eliminate the oxidation and preserve the essential oils for that much longer.
CEOCFO: Would that be for individuals; do people keep cannabis around that long typically?
An occasional smoker who would save it for weekends and special occasions, may take more than a month to go through their stash. Whether one uses cannabis for medicinal purposes or recreationally, it will slowly lose the quality, value and potency that you bought it for. Research has shown that there can be up to a 22% drop in potency in one year.
Environmental factors such as light, temperature, moisture and oxygen, can speed up the process and maintaining a controlled environment with low oxygen, low light and stable temperatures, will combat the natural processes that degrade the herb, allowing it to stay fresh and viable for longer.
Even after approximately 3 weeks in an air tight jar, there is a noticeable loss of flavor and an ammoniated smell starts to appear.
In Canada, cannabis that is purchased in a legal dispensary is pre-packaged from the producer without CO2 protection. It can take months before it reaches the consumer and it is not rare to open your purchase and it has lost it colour, smell and some of its potency.
CEOCFO: What products are available today?
We have two personal units, the CVMini-S and the CVMini-S Plus. The CVMini-S is our basic model without CO2 and the CVMini-S Plus that will have the CO2 option with it. We are very close (within a month) to launch for sales.
The next product is our Harvest Max which is just starting the prototyping phase. This will be our largest personal model and also our mini commercial unit. In Canada you are allowed to grow 4 plants for your own personal use and growing outdoors it is not uncommon to get two lbs. or more per plant. This will leave you with having eight to ten lbs. of cannabis that you want to store and be as fresh next year as it was when you harvested it. Our Harvest Max will hold that harvest for you and keep it safe and fresh for the whole year. The Harvest Max will be monitored and controlled by the same phone app as well.
Our phone app will monitor CO2 levels, humidity and temperature, opening and recording each time it does. Add a second device to the app and manage security by adding Face ID or passcode to unlock.
More features are planned in upgrades for the future.
CEOCFO: How are you bringing the products to market; what is your strategy?
Trying to get our product out on the market is challenging because of the connection to cannabis and the US Federal law against it, which even made banking for our Canadian company difficult to establish.
We are promoting our website store, where one can purchase a CannaVault™ product, using press releases and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Linkdin) as well, we are looking at some cannabis friendly magazines. It is still limited somewhat as things like Facebook postings can not be boosted, as it goes against their community policy.
In November 2021, CannaVault™ Systems Inc. attended the Toronto LiftExpo, the largest Canadian cannabis trade show, and we will be back in Toronto in May for the Spring LiftExpo.
CEOCFO: Do you see the US as your primary target as it is a bigger market?
It will be a very large customer for us in the future. The US has California with a population of approximately 39.5 million, which is more that all of Canada with approximately 38 million, so that is a huge market for us. Due to the current US law though, we are only available in Canada at the moment.
CEOCFO: What gives you the confidence that you will be able to get through the challenges?
Each time we have approached a challenge, we worked and managed to over come them. Overcoming challenges is a very big part of developing something new. We produce our circuit board and programing in house and are very determined to use local talent and locally accessible parts to avoid supply chain issues as much as possible. We have gone thru beta testing and are at the stage of releasing our first products with a second in prototype phase, all without incurring debt.
The response that we have received from people in the know has been very positive. We have received government funding that helped develop our prototype and then received a consultant to help make sure we would be successful. He helped guide us thru setting up our company in the right way, taking care of all the details.
When we brought our beta test models to the LiftExpo last November, it caught the interest of many industry people and the response was very positive. One person involved in supplying CO2 comes to our booth and was amazed to see that someone had finally figured out about using CO2 for storing cannabis.
CO2 is extremely new in the cannabis sector. No one is really using it yet and it should be used more with the growers and the people who are packing as well. Canadian cannabis comes prepackaged and sealed when you buy it. With cannabis being stored in bags without CO2 or some other gas to preserve it, the oxygen has, in many cases degraded it. It does not smell like what it is supposed to and it is not as strong as they are saying it is supposed to be.
CEOCFO: Are you looking at direct sales, selling to growers, are you looking to have your products carried in dispensaries, all of the above?
We will have them available in our on-line store, but we are also opening up the idea of dispensaries and other distribution avenues. We are investigating working with some Licensed Producers and also our provincial health agencies for use with patients.
We are investigating other consumer channels in health care, restaurants for high end chefs, or simply securing valuables. A secure storage unit that is opened with your phone can be applied to many situations.
We met with a company that does distribution for child safe products at the November LiftExpo and we are in talks with having him carry our products. My partner, being in the manufacturing and distribution business for 25 years, has this as his forte.
CEOCFO: With so many new ideas to look at, why does CannaVault™ Systems standout?
Cannabis consumers tend to become connoisseurs and they will gravitate towards anything that will improve the quality of their experience. Our products give the promise of that improved experience.
Our CannaVault™ System of storing cannabis using CO2, will set the standard for safe storage and handling practices for the industry and will put us on the leading edge of that change.
The future of cannabis storage is now.
Child Safe, Contamination Safe, Quality Safe. It’s not Safe unless it’s CannaVault™ Safe.
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