The HempList #33: CBN, Hemp, & Sleep Formulations ft. Vlasic Labs (Vlasic Pickles?!)

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In Summary

Jack Vlasic & Adam Rosenberg, of Vlasic Labs, joins us on the HempList this week. Hosted By Chase Nobles, Founder of Kush.com

Jack Vlasic comes from the Vlasic family who’s namesake is famous for the Vlasic pickle brand! These days the family has moved on from pickles to Hemp & Cannabinoid formulations. Adam the CFO, and Jack talk all about how the company formed, the family values that still drive their innovations, and some sleep formulations utilizing CBN that are currently in the works. In fact, Vlasic Labs is actually funding clinical trials with their CBN products to prove efficacy and help legitimize cannabinoids!

Transcript (auto-generated)

hey everybody Chase Nobles here we got
a new setup we are
here with the show back after a two week
break and we’ve got a very interesting
guest today
we’ve got jack Vlasic and adam rosenberg
from vlasic
labs here today welcome to the show guys
thank you really appreciate it
thanks for having us of course all right
so everybody’s looking at
the title of this podcast this this
youtube show right now and they’re
saying
okay vlasic labs v-l-a-s-i-c
labs that seems to be a very familiar
name from branding perspective
jack what’s the background here and what
what led you into hemp
from that background
so i’ll try to keep it short um but the
the name comes from the pickles my great
grandfather came over from croatia
a long time ago started the company
grandfather turned it into what it is
today he’s the one that came up with the
stork and
you know really was the first company to
put a lot of marketing dollars behind a
pickle company
and uh and frankly we haven’t been in
the pickle business for a long time
sold it to campbell soup uh 40 years ago
or so
i’ve never had anything to do with it i
was called pickles in high school though
um and my dad never had anything to do
with it
um and and frankly i’ve been i’ve had my
eyes
on the hemp industry uh for
you know uh five to ten years um
you know it wasn’t really something that
was on my radar as a career but uh
moved over to it uh only two months ago
because i saw the product progress
that adam uh my little brother willie
vlasic and my dad rick
had made in founding vlasic labs and uh
just
you know a little bit of fomo and wanted
to to get in and help them
you know grow the business and that’s
really how
i got involved beautiful and adam you’re
the chief financial officer over at
classic clubs
what what was that progress that jack
was just talking about that you all had
made and how did it lead to
this business that you all are you know
kind of founding and getting
getting up and running here in the hemp
industry
sure so like many companies in the hemp
space
we have had to remain flexible and
execute a few pivots
in our strategy along the way so
initially our plan was to do hemp
extraction
distillation isolation targeting cbd
but as we saw the market dynamics change
and we saw opportunity
in the new exotic cannabinoids we
shifted our focus
so now our focus is on producing a pure
white
odorless cbn isolate which is a
non-intoxicating cannabinoid that can be
applied into sleep products
as an alternative or a complement to
products like melatonin understood and
so
i i i know that y’all are either
launching or very close to launching
your
your your products and ideally this will
be maybe part of it but
what is that product after the pivot
that you all have made what is the
products that y’all are going to market
with here soon
so our first finalized product is going
to be a cbd
cbn one to one uh and
we’re deciding if it’s going to be a
tincture or a spray we’re actually in a
pilot study right now with about 50
participants
a variety of people some
with sleep conditions like narcolepsy or
sleep apnea
because we believe if it can help
someone with with something as serious
as that that
uh you know it certainly can help the
general population and uh
we are very close uh not there yet but
uh we’ve been working on redeveloping
our website making it more you know
consumer-centric and you know ensuring
that we’re gonna be putting
uh the best thing that we can put out
there uh from the jump
um and i think q2
i’m not gonna put a timeline on it but
we are we’re taking steps every day
that’s great and so adam you mentioned
that
the pivots and that’s sometimes kind of
one of the more challenging things
people have to talk about
rpcush.com started out as a cannabis
tourism business called kush tourism
and people looked at that
and go how in the world did that become
cush.com so i understand
the pivot i understand you know how one
thing can lead to another
what was the what was the mode for the
pivot adam and and
why did you choose cbn as a product line
to launch with versus any of the cbd
products that you all had been
experimenting with
sure so what it comes down to and i’m
sure a lot of the basis of your pivot
was just having
a team that was willing to explore the
best possible strategic option
regardless of what decisions had been
made to that point
so for us we evaluated the different
cannabinoids
and we also evaluated the most feasible
scientific route of producing these at
scale
with consistent quality and we settled
on cbn
and in particular our founder rick
flaccik
who’s a little bit older he has sleep
troubles and so it was a very personal
mission for him
amongst his friends who also have sleep
problems
and so we’re looking to develop a
product that can help rick
other baby boomers that have a hard time
sleeping but also
younger people older people and even you
know pets and animals is something that
we want to explore next
because we see so much therapeutic
potential from this plant that has been
stigmatized for so long
and in particular with these minor
cannabinoids that have not been able to
be produced at scale and be researched
up until now
now jack jumping in as the you know from
the sales and marketing side
what are some of the lessons that you’ve
had to learn getting into this business
compared to any other traditional
business that you’ve been a part of
uh it’s been like drinking out of a fire
hose um i
i’ve learned so much in the last few
months it’s
it’s ridiculous and uh you know i had
built a career in the sports industry
for for the past decade and it took a
lot for me to leave and
uh there was kind of one key moment um
that that led to that decision and was
actually going out to colorado and la
uh with rick and adam and meeting one of
our our partners
and just seeing the the potential and
how many people we can help
um you know that’s that’s what motivated
me to make the decision but
i i don’t even really know where to
start as far as what i’ve learned
because
every single day i’m learning more um
and and
it’s uh just trying to get better every
day you know i’m not there yet but
hopefully i’ll be at adam’s level soon
right on right on well you know i guess
it’s
less about the marketing learnings and
more about the strategy
how do you all think about strategy when
it comes to building a brand
you know the vlasic name is you know
the brand grew so big for the pickles
and it it i’m sure there’s some family
you know lore about how that brand is
built are you taking any of those
lessons from within the family or are
you you know kind of
starting entirely definitely scratch
uh a little bit of both um we don’t want
to rely
on the name it was definitely a
strategic decision to to go
you know with that name considering uh
the the recognition and recall that
a lot of people will have for it but you
know we know pickles has nothing to do
with cbd and
um but it’s really the values that the
family and the company
uh had you know way back and of
consistency
and quality and and innovation um which
a lot of people don’t really know about
but
um you know being the first company to
you know mass deliver pickles to grocery
stores because we were packing it in a
different way
than everyone else that allowed it to be
preserved longer
and being the first ones to you know put
a mascot behind a pickle company um
you know those values are you know
things that we’re carrying over to
vlasic labs
um where we know that you know our
products are gonna be the best of the
best we wouldn’t put our name on it
uh if it wasn’t um so quality
consistency and then that
innovation is you know we don’t want to
just
be you know the the cbn company um or
the sleep company
um you know we want to explore you know
all these other cannabinoids and uh you
know something that adam and i have been
working on as partnerships
uh with universities um where we’ll be
sponsoring
clinical studies and donating cbn to
them um
to to really see you know uh how
effective it is
and you know i know it works for me i
know it works for my dad and for the
people in our pilot study but
until these formal trials are done um
you know it’s you know we we can’t make
that a guarantee
you know there’s certain claims that we
have to shy away from and that’s
something that
you know in coming from a different
industry
there’s obviously a lot of hoops that
you have to jump through so that’s
something i’m learning as well
and what do those studies look like you
mentioned that for the product launch
and you mentioned that you have
one or two running right now what does
that look like and how do you think
about the studies when it comes to
product claims and fda and all the other
risk factors in this industry
what what what steps are you taking
there with the studies that you’re doing
right now and the studies that you plan
on in the future
so we’re connecting our informal trial
just through our own surveys because we
are seeking irb approval
for a study that we’re doing with the
university of miami but that’s a long
drawn-out process and we understand that
the market
moves a lot faster and people have this
need already
and so what we want to do with our trial
is essentially determine
efficacy to the best of our ability
prior to
or concurrent with applying for irb
approval to have a formalized study that
we can then publish
but a lot of it we are inhibited in what
we can claim
more so i think we’re going to see a lot
of traction just based on word of mouth
the key of course being that the product
needs to work because if it works
and it’s effective then this will spread
quickly you know the viral effect
of people who will share with their
friends or their parents or their
grandparents
because once we prove that this works it
truly is a phenomenal alternative
to some of the over-the-counter
prescription sleep medications
that come with downsides like grogginess
or
potential addiction or even toxicity
right yeah you hear
i think we’ve all heard stories of
people taking you know sleeping pills
and then having some very strange side
effects of that
and uh hemp will be an interesting um
product category to
to enter this space we’ve seen it with
sleepy bear gummies i did an interview
with them not too long ago
but sleep is a really massive space that
seems to have a lot of ineffective
products now
when it comes to the formulations and
you know i don’t know who manages the
formulations over there do you think
about other ingredients as well
other than just cbn and how do you think
about any of the other ingredients that
you’re working with
yes so we have explored and are
continuing to explore
additional adaptogens stuff that you
would find in other products
but for us at least initially in these
studies
we wanted to mitigate confounding
variables by having
too many different compounds in the mix
so we’re starting with just a simple
one-to-one cbd cbn
and then that’ll give us our baseline
that as we add additional adaptogens
into our formulation
we can compare it to and see if there is
a substantial increase or decrease
in efficacy so the product testing that
you’re doing you’re going
very pure as a hip product and then you
can expand out and know what the impact
is
because you know what we’ve seen is is
melatonin being used you know other
products being used or other ingredients
being used and
when it comes down to knowing the
efficacy i think that there’s just not
enough research out there
a lot of it has been blocked for so long
even if it’s anecdotal it’s really hard
to lean on so it’ll be
really interesting to see you all
continue down this path have products
that you know
you can lean back on the studies that
have been run specifically on them and
be able to say
this is an effective product and so
that’ll be really interesting
from a sales and marketing side jack how
do you how do you all
plan on the the outcome of the studies
and
and you know do you continue to test if
it’s not where it needs to be or do you
go to market with a product
uh that has benefits just not
fully understood and how do you think
about that from the sales and marketing
in
you know q2 q3 quarter yeah so board
meetings things like that
for sure and i think uh there’s a couple
steps to it
one we’re very happy with the initial
results
from the pilot study um and
you know one thing that i want to kind
of piggyback off what adam was saying as
far as adding other
uh you know compounds to the mix is you
know
not only learning about the hemp space
but i’ve been doing a lot of research
into
you know melatonin and these other uh
you know potential
complementary compounds we could put in
there and i think there
is an education process that you know we
need to let consumers know
um you know melatonin is classified as a
dietary supplement
um it’s a hormone that we naturally
produce and uh
you know the typical uh product that you
see
in uh cvs has anywhere from you know
two to you know 10 to 20 milligrams per
dose and
mit came out with a study in 2001 that
showed the recommended dose being 0.3
milligrams to one milligram
and you know when people take a larger
dose over a prolonged period of time
you know that can have negative effects
whether that’s you know uh women that
are on birth control
or children that haven’t gone through
puberty yet or or
adult men it’s showing that they’re you
know producing uh an alarming amount of
prolactin
uh after uh you know taking a lot of
melatonin which leads to kidney and
liver damage so
you know we don’t know that that cbn
isn’t gonna have these long-term effects
we won’t know for for 50 years but we
know that
there is so much
good coming out of this plant as a whole
and there is so much
uh you know research that still needs to
be done not on the whole plant
but you know into these individual
compounds uh from a marketing strategy
standpoint
to get back to your question i i think
it’s educating people on
you know not just you know what we know
and what we’re trying to learn about cbn
but
did you know about you know those
studies on melatonin um
because it’s a huge market and it’s a
product that’s being used
you know the variability is wild i’ll
attest to that i
didn’t know anything about it until not
too long ago
and the variability in the products that
you do see on the market
is it’s wild it’s wild and
yeah we we don’t necessarily understand
what that you know the effects of that
is going to be and it’s just
easily accessible over the counter right
so it’ll be interesting to see
you know what you know what maybe the
downsides of that are but also what the
positives of another ingredient like cbn
would be
now when it comes to manufacturing cbd
or cbn
what’s what’s the process there look
like are you you know
for anybody that doesn’t know much about
the cannabinoid could you just give a
brief overview of what cbn
is and how it’s derived from the hip
plant
sure so cbd is cannabidiol
so that is the post decarboxylated
acidic version which is cannabinoic acid
cbda
what we do is we take a pure cbd isolate
and we convert it into cbn through the
pathway
of a thc all of that done you know in
the process
in our facility so we essentially take
cannabidiol
create tetrahydrocannabinol and then
through our proprietary process
we dehydrogenate that so that we take
tetrahydrocannabinol
to just cannabinol and that’s our final
cbn product and then we
undergo some stringent purification
processes after
which is why we have a product on the
wholesale market that is so pure
and white and odorless beautiful and
when it comes to the equipment because i
know that you know from a financial
perspective adam investing
in the manufacturing of these
cannabinoids especially the miners can
be incredibly
costly what does that look like what
kind of equipment are you using is it
ethanol for the extraction or are you
using short path what what’s what’s the
process for extracting to distillate all
the way to the final
isolated product so the material
that we use as our input is a cbd
isolate so that was already taken
through an ethanol extraction
winterization filtration distillation
and then
isolation so that’s where we get our cbd
isolate
and then we conduct our processes
through a glass
reactor so we’re able to control the
temperature
the pressure and certain time parameters
to be able to put
this material in the right conditions
for optimal conversion
beautiful while at the same time
priority of maintaining a safe
and compliant work environment and i’m
sure that’s tough
but from a financial perspective it
sounds like
you have stepped back from the
extraction side and more into the
product formulation
and the brand and the product side and i
think that’s probably really smart
because you see a lot of people have
way you know invested so much cash into
making
you know crude distillate isolate
whereas the downstream demand seems to
be the choke point
right a lot of people are saying it’s
the extractors are the chokepoint i
don’t necessarily agree with that in the
market
it’s continuing to build the downstream
demand from the consumers
and launching amazing brands that are uh
effective
for for what they’re looking for so i
think it’s an interesting approach that
you all have taken and
probably a really smart one that’s gonna
pay off but uh
jack you know when it comes to shifting
from the sports industry to the hip
industry how did you think about it from
a risk perspective
you know this is brand new you guys are
in full-on startup mode
back again right where i would assume
that you know leaving you know kind of
the comfort of a career can be
a little bit gut-wrenching what was that
like for you and uh how’s it going so
far
yeah it’s going great it was a very
difficult decision um
you know months in the making uh but the
opportunity to
to work with family um and when you can
when you can help um you gotta help you
know
and that’s for us vlasic’s families is
number one two and three um and i saw
what they were doing and i saw the
progress they were making and
and then it they got to a point where my
skill set could actually come into play
and uh to be making you know
um more consequential decisions uh for a
business on a day-to-day basis and
um you know still using some of the
skills you know from my previous career
it was a no-brainer
um it still took some time to to make
the decision but
uh i’m really optimistic about the the
long-term potential
uh even though you know there certainly
was some some short-term risk involved
now uh speaking of risk you’ve got your
lab in michigan
and i assume the uh the regulations and
the the government up there has been
really supportive
of the hip industry um just you know
with the volume of
of users that sign up for michigan
pretty regularly on the platform
what are the regulations been like that
down uh i guess up there
and what’s what’s like working with kind
of a distributed team because it sounds
like y’all are spread out a little bit
how does that work with you know within
the internal organization
yeah so we’re fortunate you know given
our regulatory environment that we’re
able to conduct this research and
development
and create these processes for refining
and purifying
exotic cannabinoids so we are going hemp
business we’re licensed under the
michigan department of agriculture and
rural development
we have an awesome director of the
program named gina alessandri
who’s been very supportive in
understanding of a lot of the pain
points
that have emerged in this brand new
industry
and jack if you want to speak to the
second half of that question yeah um
it was uh a part of the decision of
of the move um was i had already been
working remotely
uh in my previous job for uh quite some
time
and i am engaged to a beautiful cuban
woman that has seen snow
three times in her life actually taking
her out to colorado in a couple days
to ski for the first time but if i asked
her to move to detroit she’d leave me so
that’s why i’m in miami um because of
the woman i love and
uh and also i love it down here and
i travel to michigan on a monthly basis
i travel to
new york and colorado and la frequently
so you know there’s there’s certainly um
an interesting dynamic but i am the lone
remote employee for now
miami is becoming a hot spot we were
talking about this a little bit before
the show
it seems like you know the tech hub
that’s starting in miami and starting to
build really big in miami has been super
interesting
causing home prices i’m sure to go up a
lot of people moving from the west coast
to you know either austin or miami or
tampa and so it’ll be interesting to
kind of see what role florida plays
in the future of technology and him
because hemp is uh
they have medical cannabis down there in
florida which is
kind of surprising considering the
southeast and the you know kind of
historical regulations down there but uh
i think miami’s probably not too bad of
a spot to be in the first place
lifestyle-wise and business-wise
definitely not and the relationships i
built in my previous job
um have allowed me to hit the ground
running in this position
uh you know not only with potential
participants for
uh our sleep study um but also you know
for
for white label and private label
opportunities as well
um so it’s it’s been uh a blessing in
disguise
uh to to be down here and um
we’re making it work well we’ve we’ve
we’ve been talking for a little while
now i want everybody to know that they
can find classic labs on kush.com
they find their storefront their brand
they can get in touch with jack and adam
on there but uh it’s been a pleasure
talking with you all good luck with the
product launch
good luck with the studies i can’t wait
to see what happens and where you all go
and
we’re all sitting a year from now uh
we’ll have to do a follow-up interview
uh to to
check in see how you guys are doing
sounds good
looking forward to it all right adam
appreciate your time we’ll talk soon




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