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Jakub Pritz Podcast

 |  min read  |  April 13, 2020

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– Hello and welcome to Repair the World with Tikun. I am Alexandria Collins and today I’m joined by Jacob Prince. He is our manufacturing and science director at Tikun Olam, California. Hello, Jacob.

– Hello, how are you doing today Alexandria?

– I’m so good. Thank you so much for joining us.

– It’s a pleasure.

– Yeah, so I’ve seen you working in the lab, you’re doing your thing, everyone’s like, “Jacob, you know all the answers, help us out.” And that’s so amazing, but I’m really curious how you — What was your first experience with cannabis, before, you know, getting in the industry, what did that look like for you? So, I had a girlfriend who would smoke and then, encouraged me to smoke. It didn’t really stick to it until — Well, that was like, sporadic, maybe like once a year or twice a year I would do it with her. And then it became a routine after, after I was at a Radiohead concert, and I smoked there, I was like, “Oh okay, this is what cannabis is about.” Because the first few times, I didn’t really feel the effects of cannabis until, and people would tell me “That’s normal, that’s no worries, try it again.” I’m like, “Why would I try it again? “Why would I try it again if it’s not doing any effect?” But then I went with it at a Radiohead concert. And it was, it was great.

– That’s what I hear, your body kind of has to be primed.

– Mm hmm.

– And especially going to Radiohead concert. I’m sure that was amazing. So, cool. And so then since you know, you’ve been a regular user and consumer.

– Mm hmm. Awesome. So then, what did that look like for you? Was that in college or was that after college? That was in grad school. So I was about — I started late, so I, I became a routine smoker around 27. That’s when the concert was, but I my first use was 24. So, I was a little older already. I was exposed to it in college, but I never partook. I was like, “Oh, you guys do it. I’ll just, “I’ll just drink in the meantime.” That’s it, basically.

– Cool, so, what did that look like for you to go from consuming, and then I know you were working not necessarily in cannabis,

– Mm hmm. right?

– Mm hmm So, what was your position before you kind of got into the cannabis phase, or positions?

– So I was studying to be a medical physicist as a — when I was in school at the University of South Florida and then I was offered a postdoc position at University of California in San Diego, at the Moore’s Research Center. And it was there that I was exposed to people taking cannabis for medicinal use. And I was like, oh, there’s some legitimacy to this, to this plant outside of just using it as a recreational device. So I was starting to see patients. During my breaks, during my lunch time, I would talk to people. I would notice that some people were kind of like, low energy, listless, and then I would talk to other people, I didn’t even know that they were going through therapy. And those people, I found out they were smoking cannabis to help them keep up their appetite, suppress their nausea.

– Oh yeah, yeah.

– Basically give them a normal life. Now, I suspect, and at the time, I was suspecting, and I still do, that, that helped them with their treatment because it kept their body healthy. They were able to have the nutrients and all that stuff, mitigate the pain. But it wasn’t necessarily a — a tool to get past the cancer, it just helped in that process.

– Yeah, yeah. So they, like you said, so they could actually have the nutrients in their system, be able to eat a full meal and take care of themself. And I do think the beauty in the plant is that it can be used as a daily like, kind of a supplement.

– Mm hmm, mm hmm, definitely.

– You know, as a support for you as you’re healing and other other modalities as well.

– Especially CBD, I would actually — In my opinion, I would take that as a supplement, because it’s a good anti-inflammatory. You take it every day, it doesn’t have a — well it does have mental effects, because it reduces anxiety, but it doesn’t have a euphoric effect like THC does. So, definitely a good supplement, in my opinion.

– Cool, so when we get into you stepping into the cannabis space,

– Mm hmm

– How did you decide that you wanted to make this a part of your life, and then what did that look like for you to get to to Tikun?

– Okay, so I was — while I was a postdoc, I was looking into the cannabis space just out of curiosity, and I learned of Sativex and of Epidiolex, being developed by GW Pharma. While I was a postdoc, I was managing several med students, one of whom was — he had a side business in the vaporizer industry. He gave me a call, he went off track from his medical route, and he gave me a call saying, “Hey, Jake, “my business is really doing well. “I want to get into the cannabis space, “would you like to come work?” And I thought, like, “Hey, you know, med student here, myself, we’re going to go towards GW Pharma, we’re going to go that route. That wasn’t the case. So, I left the company and became a consultant mainly to provide myself some income, but also to search out people and partners who were interested in going through that GW Pharma route, or at least creating products for medical use, for wellness use, for that; Not just recreational items.

– Yeah, yeah.

– So, this seems like Tikun was a good space for you, then.

– Mm hmm, mm hmm, absolutely.

– So that was really up our alley. So, what exactly do you do at Tikun, and what is a regular day look like for you?

– So, we’re still kind of — we’re transitioning into production space. What I mean by that is, some of our machinery is up and running, other machinery is not. Our extractor, for example, I think we’re a couple weeks away. So, my day-to-day is just writing SOPs,

– What is an SOP?

– A standard operating procedure or protocol, depending on how you —

– Right, right. So, it’s basically an instruction sheet of how operate the machine safely and within our parameters to create the products consistently for the market.

– Yeah, and, so we have several different strains that we’re producing here, so once he gets everything up and running, that’s going to be a really complex —

– Yes.

– Situation.

– A lot of management, a lot of in between cleanings and all that stuff in order to prevent cross contamination of our different strains. We have six, and more soon, I think, right?

– Yeah, we have some others that we’re white labeling as well, So, there’s a really big space. I’m really curious what that process is going to be like for you all, since you’re kind of creating the SOPs for everything now, do you feel like it’s going to be a breeze, or what has it been like for you when you see different like, kind of blocks in the road? How do you handle that with your team?

– So it’s been — I think this has — luck has been on our side a little bit because we have had a slow ramp up. Meaning, this machine is ready to go, so let’s do everything we can to operate with this machine. We’ve got some of our products from third-party vendors that we had contracts with, we took our material back. So, we have some stuff on hand that we can work with that we can produce products with. Other machinery isn’t up and ready. So, we’ve called some people to get some training on that, like our lotion-filling machine. So, what we’ve been able to do, we’ve been doing, is we’ve started formulating, we’ve started doing in-house testing. We’ve been cross-referencing our tests with the state test to see if our results match their results. And so far, so good.

– Awesome.

– So, everything has been going slowly but methodically towards our end goal, which is have everything up and running by mid-February. I meant — sorry, mid-March, it’s February now.

– Yeah, well, that’s a really great. You know, when you think about, “Oh, it’s moving slowly,” but the idea that you get to take your time with each piece of it, and make sure that everything’s perfect, that’s actually even better for the consumer, because you realize this isn’t some overnight operation. This is something that’s taking time and that we’re slowly building that. So, that’s really cool. Curious, what do you think, or what do you see for yourself, for Tikun, for the industry, in the next three to five years? Because there’s so much changing, you know, in the industry. I know that your specific role is going to be really, really valuable because you’re really working on making sure we have everything aligned day-to-day, that it’s the same kind of batches. So what do you see?

– So I think, I’m just gonna speak from a general perspective of where I see the market. I think the market has already bifurcated in the sense that you have your recreational side and then you have your medical side. A lot of people want to get into the medical side, but it’s really difficult because you need to have supportive data to say that, you know, my Alaska formulation —

– Oh yeah, so, the market is bifurcated in the sense that you have your recreational market and you have your recreational brands that market to people saying, “Use our product if you want to be stoned or be high and all that stuff.” And then you have other brands, such as our brand Tikun Olam, which is focused on showing that our products have effective symptom mitigations. So in fibromyalgia, in autism, Crohn’s disease, we have data supporting our strains mitigating the symptoms for patients that experience, or that have those conditions. Then there’s a middle ground called wellness, which is kind of like, what I would say is like the supplement market. For example, what I was talking about earlier, CBD is — the CBD supplement isn’t really a medical thing, it’s more of a vitamin thing, conceptually. Because you’re taking it as a supplement, you can take it every day, that’s what people do with vitamins. You don’t need a prescription for it, so that’s not medical. But specific formulations and applications of cannabis towards specific medical conditions is ramping up. I know there’s several companies looking to, not just be a producer of medical products, but also be the supplier of cannabis to these studies. Because there’s a requirement that if you want to have a clinical trial, you have to source your cannabis from a grower that can grow plants for that clinical study. And as of right now, the University of Mississippi is allowed to do that, there are other companies that were looking to do that. I’m hoping we do that, because I think it’d be a good feather in our cap to be able to do that.

– Yeah. I had no idea. That’s awesome.

– Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s very strict, so —

– So, the University of Mississippi right now is doing clinical studies on cannabis?

– No, they are supplying the — They are supplying the marijuana for clinical studies.

– Got it, okay.

– So, there’s a more stringent requirement. And this goes to the DEA now, that if you want to grow weed for clinical studies, you have to have the license to do so from the FDA and from the DEA.

– Got it.

– So someone like, I don’t know, Should I give another name? But someone like Canndescent, if they want to have their strains in a clinical setting, they have to get that license in order to grow that. It makes things a little bit more complicated. And that restriction is because it’s still federally illegal. Even though it’s legal in stateside, clinical studies are a nationwide thing. So, you have to then take into consideration crossing state borders, where do you manufacture your product, and then you have to, you know. But once you get that designation of the FDA — Once you get the FDA approval on your product, you can sell it to all 50 states. Kind of like with what you can do with Epidiolex. You need a prescription, you get it from a doctor, and you can get that prescription wherever.

– That’s, that’s really interesting. Okay. So, before we hopped on, I remember you mentioning that you wanted to be like, what was the doctor’s name? That was like the popular —

– Bill Nye?

– Bill Nye.

– Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

– So, let’s talk about the Bill Nye dream, okay?

– Yeah.

– Because I think that’s really, really cool. You mentioned that you had a minor in theater.

– Mm hmm.

– And so, I wonder, how does that fit in to how you operate today? Does it fit in at all? Or, is there a performance part of what you do?

– I haven’t tapped into that. When I’ve given talks at conferences, that’s where it came out more, but in my day-to-day here, not really. Maybe my bad jokes comes out, but —

– Hey, okay, we should have a Christmas show at Tikun Olam, or holiday situations, so you can put it together for us, and be, and live the Bill Nye dream.

– We’ll need karaoke for that.

– Sure, sure. We’ll get some drinks, karaoke, do it. Awesome. So how can people find you online? Do you have any public social accounts, or no?

– I don’t want to give them out.

– That sounds like a no.

– Yeah.

– Okay, so you guys cannot find Jacob anywhere, but know that he works at Tikun and he does an amazing job here, so we appreciate everything that you do.

– Thank you.

– But make sure that you follow us at Tikun.ca on all of our social media accounts. You can check us out at tikunolam.com for information on the strains. And thank you so much for listening, we’ll catch you next time.

– Thank you very much.

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