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🍃 AMA with Jacob Olivares, Lead Research Scientist at Ionization Labs Wednesday, July 10th at 11 AM PST

Join us LIVE for another great Growers Network Forum AMA as we discuss the value of in house testing with Jacob Olivares, Lead Research Scientist at Ionization Labs.

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  • Who: Jacob Olivares, Lead Research Scientist at Ionization Labs
  • What: The value and importance of in-house testing
  • Where: The GNET private forum
  • When: Wednesday, July 10th, at 11 AM PST

This week we will discuss “Gold Standard” Lab Testing. Cann-ID has developed the industry’s only scalable, field deployable, turn-key, lab accurate potency testing solutions program for the cannabis industries. We will discuss how that could potentially impact your cannabis business.

Lead Research Scientist Jacob Olivares will be hosting this live event on the forum. Jacob tells us a little about himself leading into this AMA: “Originally focused on the Biochemistry side of science, I have made my way onto the analytical side through continuous use and development of HPLC and the programs that come with it. I am dedicated to educating those that wish to be educated and am focused on empowering those in the industry with the right tools so that they can easily formulate their own data and make adjustments as needed”

Ionization Labs has created a platform that is consistent and accurate from sample processing to report and from device to device, giving our clients not only confidence in results, but their ability to share consistent and accurate data between their business ecosystem partners and needs, creating the 1st ever networkable marijuana and hemp chemical analysis testing platform!

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Is everyone in our @memberdirectory ready to chat about in-house potency testing? Most states and Canada have some form of mandated 3rd party cannabis product testing as part of regulation. Many cannabis facilities are adding in-house screening to ensure every product that leaves for 3rd party testing actually passes screening and makes its way onto store shelves. In-house testing has become a hot topic in the last few years and I am excited to have @jacobaolivar from CannID joining us today!

Start seeding those questions now, folks.

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@jacobaolivar, how did you get your start in cannabis? How did you come to work for Ionization Labs?

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So I started out in January by applying to a wide range of internships and Ionization Labs was one of the first places I applied to. I spoke with Chase McMichael who is our Chief Science Officer and he felt that I could be a good addition to the team due to my strong background in research and analytics. I then went on to do my own research on the cannabis industry and everything that goes into it and all the science and I’ve been conducting my own research and making developments ever since

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Wow! So were you headhunted right out of school?

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I’m actually still currently in school and completing my final year. Throughout college I worked on the head of our graduate programs research team and that’s where I was able to really refine all my knowledge, techniques and gain a strong grasp of analytical chemistry and the mechanics and machinery that goes with it.

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Right on! Congrats on making in through school and making your way into a new green industry!

Let’s chat about Cann-ID for a moment. What in-house testing solutions does Cann-ID provide?

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Well Cann-ID’s ability to calculate potency of cannabis and hemp products is due to the use of a widely used analytical machine known as an HPLC. What we do is that we partnered with Agilent, one of the largest and personally my favorite producers of scientific machinery, and we take the HPLC machines that they make and we run it through a whole QA/QC, we then outfit our laptops with the mycannid program, provide all the solvents, mobile phases, calibrants, calculations, dilution factors, pretty much anything that you could possibly need to do your own potency testing in house without needing any sort of scientific background.

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And you’re able to do this testing on a wide range of products such as isolates, tinctures, flowers, and oils!

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This sounds like very impressive and highly applicable technology in our evolving industry.

Aside from potency testing, can the Agilent HPLC run myco, pesticide or pathogen screens?

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Currently our platform only does potency testing because we really want to focus in on this one portion and make sure that everything is 100% up and running and giving back great results because knowing the potency of your product is something very important and no one should be unsure on that. But I can say we do have plans in maybe moving into another sector of testing and we’ve been asked to get into terpenes or pesticides and everything is fair game but we just want to focus right now on what we’re doing and then later on we’ll talk about expanding

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I’ve seen some widely skewed potency results from some, let’s just say, less-than-reputable labs send back some questionable results (38% THC? Really?!). As a client, this has really shaken my trust in labs. I really think this is antithetical to how it ought to be. Growers, processors, extractors, and retailers all should rely on labs to provide trusted results. How can your company help restore the trust damaged by other labs?

How do your clients know the results provided by your machines are 100% accurate?

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Great question!

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I completely agree with you Nick, that’s why I feel so passionate about this whole industry and what I’m developing. I’ve talked to many many clients whom have the same concerns and I have heard some pretty ridiculous stories and that’s why I hinge all my work on being able to empower the clients through education and being able to do their own data acquisition

I want to start out by saying that the third party labs operate on a per test basis. The more tests they run means the more money they make so when something goes wrong or their machine goes out of calibration, it costs them too much money to go back and too much money to monitor. What we do to ensure accurate results first starts out with our method. Over these past months I have developed a method for our HPLC machines and we all have developed SOP’s in place so that we can say with confidence that if you test this material, someone else that also tests this material will get back the same results. Second, we have what is called a calibration check, when you shoot this into the machine the program will come back and tell you whether your machine needs to be calibrated or whether you’re good to go and will get back the most accurate results. Finally, we’re here for all our clients and we monitor the results they’re getting back. I’ve been on multiple calls just this week trying to help clients out, answer any questions they have, and come up with new ways that we can make our platform simpler and better.

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To give you some data, I conducted an experiment where I took some plant material and had different people in my lab prep it up and use different masses when prepping. I then ran these samples over and over again until I had 500 potency calculations and then compared all these calculations. At the end of the experiment I observed a +/- of 2 %

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It sounds like this tech is invaluable. I suspect as time passes you will see more facilities integrating these tools into their operations. Are you witnessing this trend? About how many prospective clients that you demo the machines actually make an in-house HPLC purchase?

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Oh forsure, these 3rd party labs don’t have the time and knowledge to enter into a whole research and development and we have seen a trend of labs wanting to integrate our platform into their business. I hope that in the future we can be in every 3rd party testing lab not for business sake but for the sake of the industry. With having a standardized method of how samples should be quantified and having our platform with its monitoring capabilities, we would be able to ensure that as many clients are able to receive accurate and precise results. Because if you’re not receiving accurate results then you can never know what you’re doing wrong, what you’re doing right, and what you can change to get the best results. Every person that we demo this machine for has been on board with purchasing one but the problem is that some clients aren’t large enough to make the purchase. They either don’t have the capital, aren’t producing enough products to have the need for in house testing, or are receiving “good” results from labs when they get a really high potency for their product.

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It sounds like the up-front costs could be a barrier to purchase. What might the ballpark price be on an entry-level system?

Who are the primary consumers of your machines? I imagine hemp farmers and brokers are going to be investing in your tech now that the hemp/CBD industry has opened up and exploded in the States. Are you seeing more large hemp farms making the investment? Are you seeing more demand in Canada with legalization for adult-use?

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So you can buy an HPLC machine pretty much anywhere for around $40,000 but since we’re partnered with Agilent we get a nice discount and we sell the client the HPLC at the price we get it for so $30,000. We then provide all the chemicals, mobile phases, calibrants, and sample prep kits every month and the client pays by a per sample basis starting at $30 if you’re running 48 samples a month and then this price per sample drops all the way down to $18 per sample depending on how much you’re going to be running.

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That sounds quite reasonable given the services that you offer.

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