Marijuana in flower at a Denver indoor medical marijuana grow in March 2013. (Joe Amon, Denver Post file)

Marijuana edibles maker Wana Brands expanding out of Colorado

Company opening manufacturing facilities in Nevada, Oregon

Boulder-based Wana Brands, maker of marijuana-infused edibles, is expanding out of state, fueled in part by strong sales of their extended-release cannabis capsules.

The company is planning to open manufacturing facilities in Oregon and Nevada by the end of the year, founder Nancy Whiteman said Wednesday.

Wana is also growing locally. With the addition of some new hires later this week, they will employ around 70 people in their Boulder facility, where a range of products for recreational and medical use are manufactured and sent to 400 dispensaries statewide.

The newest of those products is WanaCaps, an extended-release capsule that began being marketed for medical use last month. Produced in partnership with Israeli pharmaceutical company Cannabics (OTCMKTS: CNBX), the pills are virtually indistinguishable from more conventional medications and are packaged in subdued, white medicine bottles with safety caps and clear markings.

The capsules are part of the vision of Wana’s owners that includes creating a professional product that can be used by more than just the “hippie stoner.”

“Pretty much from the beginning, we realized that the biggest chunk of the market would be regular folks,” said co-founder John Whiteman. “We’ve stayed true to offering a product that is consistent and reliable and that you can trust.”

In the wild west of marijuana edibles, where dosages and potency can vary wildly among products, Wana takes extra steps to produce products that will perform as dependably as Tylenol or Excedrin. Every batch of tincture used in the edibles is tested on-site before being sent to the state labs for additional testing, and the CO2 extraction method used for WanaCaps is fully automated.

The capsules — available in three formulations with different ratios of the active cannabinoids THC and CBD — are selling well in all regions of Colorado, according to a mid-August report from Cannabics.

Sean Best, co-owner of Wana, said the company hopes to begin distributing the pills for recreational use in the coming months, joining a recreational product lineup that includes fudge, caramels and their best-seller: sour gummies.

Best said they are anticipating a “huge” response and demand for the product, so a date for the rollout is a moving target as the business prepares itself for increased production.

In addition to the planned manufacturing facilities in Nevada and Oregon, Nancy Whiteman said they are looking at licensing deals for the capsules in several other states, including Florida, Georgia, New York, Illinois, Washington, California and Arizona.

“We are seeing infused product companies being one of the more likely candidates for expanding into additional states,” said Taylor West, deputy director at the National Cannabis Industry Association, of which Wana is a member.

“There’s no legal way to move cannabis product from one state to another — everything has to be grown, produced and sold in the state where it is,” West said. “But with infused products, you can set up a manufacturing facility or license your product in another state and build your brand nationally.”

West said that Colorado cannabis companies are in a better position to expand than those in other states because the early adoption of legal medical and recreational markets has given them more time to mature as companies.

“You’re seeing companies here that have weathered first couple of years of starting a new business,” she said “They had the opportunity to build a solid foundation on which they can now grow.”

Shay Castle: 303-473-1626, castles@dailycamera.com, @shayshinecastle

This story was first published on DailyCamera.com