As a daily vitamin, can THC be taken as part of a consumer’s daily routine?
For Zeno, a company that recently introduced a 0.4 mg THC pill, the answer is yes.
The company launched its product in August and recently announced that it would be sold in Sweet Flower pharmacies in California.
Here, Zeno co-founder Jeronimo De Miguel shares more about the product, the recent retail partnership with Sweet Flower, microdosing trends and more.
Melissa Schiller: Can you give me some background information about Zeno and his product?
Jeronimo De Miguel: We just started a little over two months ago, in early August, and that was mostly through [a] D2C or direct-to-consumer offering through a platform called Grassdoor, which is a delivery platform here in California. On purpose we wanted to be able to [reach] Consumers who don’t necessarily shop at pharmacies and that just goes hand in hand with the types of products we put on the market.
We need to think of our product as a THC-based microdose to be taken just like you are taking your daily supplement. I think this is the best way to think about this product [as a vitamin]. You take it as part of your morning routine, as part of your ritual, [like] Drink coffee or [exercising]. This particular SKU is really meant as a morning boost. We have only started with one SKU so far. Of course, we are already planning formulations that address people’s needs in terms of sleep, energy boost, and so on.
The story of the founder is really convincing. My co-founder, Jack Dreifuss, suffered from depression, anxiety, and so on and ended up trying gummy bears because he had trouble with flowers and wasn’t sure what the dose would be. If he was ever able to smoke flowers, it was always difficult to be certain of the dose. And in general the bloom is way more potent than a microdose, period. We don’t often think of smoking flowers as microdosing. [Jack] went to gummy bears, and in the end he cut them open. So we ended up on 0.4 [mg]. It was a sweet spot that worked. we [said to] “If that works for me, it can probably work for other people who are dealing with the same things that I am dealing with.”
Photo courtesy of Zeno
Zeno’s 0.4 mg THC tablets are intended to be taken in the morning as a daily supplement.Schiller: What is special about the Zeno product formulation?
From Miguel: The daily product that we launched and have on the market today is meant to really feel and be like a daily supplement, except that it is THC based. I very much believe it is breaking new ground because at 0.4mg we are nowhere near the level of microdosing anywhere else on the market. When you think of most of the products on the market, they’re either at 5 mg, [or] some make it to 2.5 but most of them are only 5 mg. Even 5 mg is considered a microdose. For us, [our product is] like a nanodose. It’s so low that it can’t be compared to anything else on the market. So I have the feeling that we are essentially breaking new ground and creating a category of its own with this very low-dose THC product.
We wholeheartedly believe in the plant’s ability to address problems such as anxiety, depression, and ADHD. We’ve seen previous results from early adopters and brand ambassadors who ingested the product before we actually launched it, some of which were from pharmaceuticals. Some put aside their daily use of Adderall or Ritalin. The microdosing of THC shows promise. I really believe THC has a lot going for it so it’s really exciting to be part of this pioneering work in this area.
I personally [use] the product [on a daily basis], not because I’m trying to address issues like anxiety or depression or ADHD, but because I get up in the morning – I’m a morning person and I have my routine [with] Meditation and so on – and I just love what this product does for me in terms of that extra boost of creativity and energy [and] Focus. Here the formula is so powerful because we have the 0.4 mg THC, but we also have L-theanine, [which] plays an important role and is also natural in its shape. L-theanine [is] the active ingredient in green tea, and it really gives you that sustained focus.
Schiller: Why is Sweet Flower a good stationary trading partner for Zeno?
From Miguel: There are a couple of big reasons. The retail experience at Sweet Flower is very much linked to our perception and vision of how the industry is evolving. It has a very clean aesthetic. It’s very accessible. It’s very kind. It’s very driven by the fact that someone can come in there and find out about different products and options. It has a spa that is great. We also see that Sweet Flower is committed in many ways to what we are committed to, namely the idea that this plant and the products that come from the plant can ultimately do a lot of good in the world. They have a whole program and many things in the area of social justice. We do the same. We think culturally, there is real match.
We think they are attracting a similar audience from a brand perspective. We’re doing everything we can to nurture our partnerships so we can get more of this canna-curious consumer – the consumer who hasn’t actually tried cannabis, or THC in particular, as part of their daily routine. Of course, many pharmacies mainly think or focus on cannabis as a recreational opportunity to have a good time or to end the day or to relax. We see it as a way to get into your day in the morning and kick start your day in general. It’s a very functional microdose, and that functionality, in our opinion, is very much in line with Sweet Flower’s idea of making the retail experience for a new type of customer.
Schiller: What microdose trends do you see on the cannabis market?
From Miguel: The biggest thing in my opinion is education. The consumers [need to gain an] understand and [be] willing to try cannabis and microdoses as part of their daily routine. There is, of course, a lot of stigma and legacy that we need to consider. When we think of a product like ours, I really believe that it is the path to normalization, the path to mass consumption. To get there we need to reach out to many people and educate them. You have the cannabis side of it, but you also have microdosing and people don’t know what that looks like or what their stacking routines might be.
I think education is our greatest opportunity, but also our greatest challenge. You have to be able to open the door if you want to. The curiosity of the people has to be there and somehow you have to kindle it with conversations, dialogues, press – everything there is [consumers] an opportunity to say, “Huh, I haven’t thought about that yet. Let me find out more. ”Of course, this means content.
For us, one of the biggest strategies right now is to create educational content – to get as much across to consumers as possible [to get them to] Think about it in constitutional states where they can access it. Because our product is largely a health and wellness product, there are opportunities for us to move to non-recreational states. It gives us the chance to reach people through a medical opportunity.
Schiller: What are the company’s short and long-term goals for the future?
From Miguel: In the short term, I’d say our biggest opportunity right now is getting people to our pharmacies, with Sweet Flower being the most important right now. We do everything we can to motivate budtenders at the pharmacy level, to educate them and to get them excited about the product. Ultimately, they are the ones who bridge the conversation with consumers. [We’re trying] to get them to really understand and get excited about the product and of course to get people to the pharmacies. There are four [Sweet Flower] now and by the end of the year there will be five.
In the medium term, until the end of the year, we want to make sure that we think about new formulas, new SKUs, whether it’s Zeno Sleep or some nightly ones [product], or maybe something of the kind of energy, that is, when people have it [an energy] dip – the dip at 2 or 3 p.m. – we can come up with something that gives people the midday boost from a completely natural perspective.
We are also interested in expanding beyond California. Canada is an opportunity that we have explored. I’m Canadian so let’s have these conversations. Canada is government regulated, [and] As the Canadian countryside is more open to subscription options, people will be able to subscribe to the product and Canada Post will be the largest distributor as it delivers products to their homes. We want this proof of concept of what that could look like, so maybe one day we can bring it to the USA
I have some conversations with universities and institutions to ultimately prove the science behind what we see. Obviously we collect a lot of anecdotal data, a lot of qualitative information from our consumers and everything is positive, especially when you see people getting off medication and [talk] about how Zeno helps them function and go through their day free from depression and anxiety. I would like to be able to more scientifically link the low-dose formula and some of these ailments. We’re exploring what that might look like, maybe through a study or research.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for style, length and clarity.