Home News Interviews Exclusive Interview With Open Book Extracts CIO, Nicole Brown

Exclusive Interview With Open Book Extracts CIO, Nicole Brown

As a Harvard University graduate, what got you interested in the nutraceutical and CBD industries?

I was pre-med when I studied at Harvard. After completing my requirements, exams, and getting accepted to medical school, I chose not to pursue a career in medicine. However, I always maintained a strong interest in health and wellness, even if only on a personal level. As I continued my career in the beverage and beauty industries, I watched the cannabis industry from the sidelines and spent a great deal of time educating myself on the products and their potential to provide alternative therapies and offer better health outcomes across a wide range of needs. By early 2019, I knew I had waited long enough to join the industry that has the power to change people’s lives for the better in so many ways.

Open Book Extracts recently announced an alliance with Radicle Science. What is the motivation behind the partnership?

The overall mission of this alliance is to create a broader movement across the industry that will increase consumer confidence, infuse scientific integrity in product development, and offer clear value to brands. We aim to bring a new gold standard of product innovation for the development of new CBD and cannabinoid-based products.
Do you believe the cannabinoid industry in the US needs more federal regulation? How much? Where?

CBD products are legally produced and used across the nation since Congress legalized hemp and hemp-derived products in the 2018 farm bill. These products currently are regulated by state and not federal authorities. As a result, products produced in one state may not be transported for sale in another, and regulations relating to production, marketing, and labeling may differ greatly from state to state.

Americans deserve to know the products they purchase are safe and of consistent quality. Without FDA leadership, state legislatures are putting their own policies in place. There are currently 135 proposals in 38 states which further confuse the disparate CBD regulations already on states’ books. Unfortunately, well-intentioned state CBD regulations have created a confusing, conflicting regulatory patchwork that fails to establish uniform requirements for the safe formulation, production, labeling, and marketing of these products.

Federal action would greatly reduce widespread consumer confusion, including the misperception that FDA already regulates CBD. A recent poll conducted by the Consumer Brands Association found that 74% of American consumers either incorrectly assume or have no idea if CBD is regulated. The market is growing, and Americans are using products without FDA oversight and without a good understanding of CBD. When asked to rate their knowledge of CBD on a scale of 1 to 10, consumers rated themselves an average of 3.3. This knowledge gap, in concert with the lack of federal regulation, should create urgency for the establishment of a regulatory framework.

What challenges do you experience during the production of your ingredients, and what mitigation strategies do you use?

As an ingredient manufacturer and product development house, the process to make ingredients, especially rare ingredients like CBN and THCV, is highly technical. In almost every case, it requires several months of method development to perfect the process for the production of a cannabinoid at greater than 99% purity. 
When it comes to research, development, and quality, Open Book Extracts has assembled a team that includes a 20-year Ph.D. Food Scientist from Cornell, three Masters Chemists with pharmaceutical backgrounds, and a Director of Quality Control with a 15-year career at GlaxoSmithKline, responsible for pure, consistent, and formulation-ready products. All of Open Book’s products are tested internally at each step of the refinement process and again at the end by reputable third-party laboratories, ensuring the quality, consistency, and safety of every product we make.
As the Chief Innovation Officer of Open Book Extracts, what nutraceutical consumer trends, involving CBD/Hemp do you envision?

One of the biggest trends is the focus on need-state and effect-driven products. CBD products are no longer “one size fits all.” Instead, product development is focused on leveraging targeted formulations to deliver desired outcomes such as anxiety relief, pain relief, better sleep, or increased energy. In this way, the minor cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN, CBC, and THCV play a significant role, as each cannabinoid possesses unique properties that support need-state-driven formulations. In addition to minor cannabinoids, we also see a trend to incorporate complementary co-active ingredients to further support the desired outcomes, with popular ingredients including nootropics such as L-Theanine and Saffron as well as functional mushrooms such as Ashwagandha and Lion’s Mane.

Nicole Brown serves as Chief Innovation Officer for North Carolina-based Open Book Extracts (www.openbookextracts.com), a foremost ingredient manufacturer, product development house, and supplier focused on cannabinoid-enabled (CBD) health and wellness. She channels data-driven consumer insights into a long-term course of action, delivering immediately usable product innovation, and also drives awareness and thought leadership by overseeing strategic marketing efforts, including PR, event marketing, advertising, and partnerships. Nicole is committed to a spirit of sustainability and social impact and has built and led best-in-class teams to foster an open culture to learn from one another. 

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