Welcome to C-Suite, our new interview series with business leaders in the cannabis industry. Below is our interview with John Docherty, President at Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (OTC: LXRP; OTCMKTS: LXRPD), which produces hemp-infused foods for consumers with active lifestyles.
How did you get into the cannabis space?
I came into the cannabis space two years ago after more than 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry specialized in drug delivery and oncology. I joined Lexaria at that time because I immediately recognized the potential of its formulation technology for enabling effective oral cannabinoid delivery, and the implications this had for helping people to better access the incredible benefits of cannabis.
Can you walk us through a normal day?
At Lexaria, I am mainly focused on advancing the development and commercialization of our patented delivery technology. A typical day for me usually involves working with and expanding our strategic partner base where Lexaria is principally focused on integrating its delivery technology into product candidates for our licensees or joint venture partners to power the future of the edibles sector.
What has been your biggest lesson about working in cannabis, and in business in general?
Probably the biggest lesson I have learned in this industry is how truly far-reaching the potential benefits of cannabis are. We live in exciting times where researchers around the globe are ever-increasingly recognizing the power of the human endocannabinoid system and the potential to benefit human health and wellness through supplementing its effects through the use of cannabis and its derivatives.
What do you see as your biggest opportunity?
I personally believe that the next biggest wave in healthcare management will be growth in the functional food and consumer goods sector, and this is where Lexaria Bioscience is poised to make its most significant commercial impacts. Our technology is designed to make it possible to deliver bioactive substances including, but not limited to, cannabinoids in foods and other consumer product formats with faster action and greater potency than ever before. In addition, our technology has been shown to markedly improve flavor profiles without the need to use unwanted and unhealthy sweeteners to offset the bitter flavoring of cannabinoid extracts. Our goal is to align with industry partners on an international scale and power a new generation of healthful consumer products by solving the delivery challenges that have limited this until technology like ours became available.
What sets you apart to make you a potential leader in cannabis?
Both Lexaria and I personally are focused on new technology development and optimization. The cannabis sector is witnessing exponential advancement in the application of technology industry-wide at all levels. At Lexaria, our business model is focused primarily on being a provider of enabling technology to industry partners, and our whole team aspires to be viewed as leaders and a trusted resource in the space with the knowhow and tools to propel the sector forward.
What is the most frustrating aspect of the cannabis industry today?
Probably the regulatory aspects that are obviously evolving constantly. Different states and jurisdictions with different rules; lack of national standards; and maybe most of all, decades of misinformation and myth. In other areas of nutrition, health and well-being, industry often works within rational standards and conducts good science to get answers. In the cannabis industry there is a great deal of outstanding artisanal knowledge that is extremely valuable but needs to be quantified by science, and government often makes it illegal or incredibly difficult to conduct that science.
What would you say to those who are considering investing in your company?
I always tell people that we feel we offer one of the most attractive and growth worthy public company opportunities in the space. I say this because our objective as a company is to grow revenues across a potentially limitless number of product brands by integrating our technology into multiple third-party company products, both domestically and abroad, on a royalty-bearing or partnered basis. Furthermore, we offer our investors the ability to participate not only in the cannabis sector, where we are already active through this model, but potentially also in other much larger industries like the vitamin, pain reliever and even tobacco sectors. Our technology is believed to be equally applicable in these cases as already shown for cannabinoids, it is described accordingly in our suite of twelve patent applications and it is about to be under investigation for this wide range of bioactive substances with a federally funded research partnership underway together with the National Research Council in Canada; Canada being home to our executive leadership team.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into the cannabis space?
There are so many great companies and opportunities in the cannabis space today. I frequently run into people from my former mainstream pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical world who have or are considering making the transition. For those who are not acquainted with the significance and extent of the benefits of the cannabis plant, I love to share the knowledge and experience I have gained in the sector and often witness the birth of converts who want to join the sector and make an impact to drive it forward.
What are your biggest tips for branding cannabis?
Consumers are increasingly seeking the convenience and practicality of high quality, safe and effective edible cannabis products. From a branding perspective, consumers want their cannabis edibles to be fast-acting and offer consistent effects. Lexaria’s technology is designed to achieve exactly this, having been shown in both in vitro laboratory and human focus studies to deliver cannabinoid effectiveness in as little as 15 minutes, and to consistently magnify potency by as much as 5-10 fold so that the consumer experiences predictable and timely benefits.
Do you see any big changes coming in the future of cannabis?
Yes, absolutely, some of which are positive and some are not. Eventually, more and more science will lead to better understanding of the myriad of individual molecules within the cannabis plant. Extraction and distillation equipment is already in wide use in order to purify individual molecules for later recombination. But as this natural evolution progresses, the whole plant once distilled into individual components, starts to be seen as and/or classified as a series of individual substances. Regulators like the FDA and Health Canada tend to recognize purified substances as “drugs” as opposed to a holistic plant. So as time passes and liberalization of both usage and investigatory laws takes place, the existing industry will face a series of defining moments as pharma and Fortune 500 companies come into the more mature space. If and when that happens, opportunities for the natural and consumer products space may diminish.
Do you consume cannabis? And if so, what's your favorite way to consume?
I am obviously biased toward edible consumption with our enabling technology as a convenient, healthy and effective mode of administration. I personally enjoy our own ViPova™ and LexariaEnergyFoods brands of full spectrum hemp oil infused products on a regular basis as an important part of my commitment to health and wellness.