Cannabist: How many employees do you have?
Mitchem: We employ in all of our affiliates — Bakked, O.penVape, partners of the businesses in the dispensaries and grows — about 120 employees. And we’ll probably double that by the end of the year.
Cannabist: What kind of business do you all ideally do at dispensaries and recreational shops?
Mitchem: O.penVape is 30-40 percent of the revenue at some shops that offer our cartridges. And that has continued in recreational.
Cannabist: Let’s talk about those dispensaries and pot shops — and other marijuana entities — O.penVape is affiliated with.
Mitchem: Sure. We have four different grows, and we’re affiliated with four different dispensaries — including Evergreen Apothecary, Colorado Harvest Company and the two La Conte’s. There’s also OrganaLabs, which makes O.penVape cartridges for the whole state of Colorado. And there’s Bakked — they’ve joined our team and produce cartridges because demand was so high.
Cannabist: OrganaLabs and Bakked, they only make cartridges for Colorado?
Mitchem: Just for us. The out-of-state O.penVape cartridges are made in those states.
Cannabist: So you guys are selling recreationally now?
Mitchem: OrganaLabs becomes full rec in a couple weeks. We told shops to do their one-time transfer, and once we go rec — at the end of the first quarter — we’ll be able to start supplying them with more … It was a hard thing to predict, dispensaries ordering for their one-time transfer to rec. A lot of people underestimated. We’re talking with lots of dispensaries that are going rec, and they’re saying, ‘We’ll order 400 cartridges,’ and we tell them, ‘You’ll be out of that in a week and half.’ They listen to the numbers and we tell them stories we’ve heard from other people. This rec piece of the consumer market has been much more robust than anyone predicted.
Cannabist: These are some pretty big numbers being thrown around. What do you attribute O.penVape’s recent successes to?
Mitchem: It’s hard for us to believe. But part of it speaks to the coolness of our brand. Anyone from those in their mid-20s to their mid-60s like it. That’s part of its success. And the branding makes it convenient for that segment of adults. They don’t have to figure out what they have to do with their plant matter. It’s what we already do as a society — seek convenience and ease — but for the cannabis world.
Cannabist: Is it fair to say that O.penVape is based on e-cigarette technology?
Mitchem: It’s not based on e-cigarettes. We’ve innovated the technology. On the back of our cartridges, it talks about the oil and vaporization process. There was a story yesterday about the dangers of e-cigarettes. That’s tough for those guys, but we worked very hard to make sure ours is safe.
Cannabist: What’s the primary ingredient you all use?
Mitchem: It’s polyethlyene glycol, and it’s used in infant inhalers. The compound is the safest pharmaceutical-grade compound that is also used in infant inhalers as well as many other pharmaceutical and nutrition products. And it’s an element we use in a specific way to get the vaporization effect. Other than that it’s cannabis oil. And we’re the only product on the market that actually articulates what’s inside. I don’t know any other product in cannabis that literally says what’s inside.
Cannabist: So you have it patented?
Mitchem: It’s not a patent but a technique and an amount of that substance that makes it safe. We keep it quiet so no one tries to duplicate it. Any consumer who wants to know more should reach out. They can contact me directly. As a chief revenue officer, it’s my sole job to make sure everyone knows about O.penVape.
Cannabist: So tell us this: Many claim that vaping is healthier than smoking. Is that true?
Mitchem: I think so. Any time you’re not lighting fire and ingesting smoke into your lungs, you’re probably better off. I’ve never tried to build that equivalency (that vaping is healthier than smoking). I’m not a physician. And I don’t try to vilify any other ways of ingestion. But I like (vaping) better. It’s not invasive to the people next to me. From a personal consumer standpoint I appreciate that.
Cannabist: But has a study been done proving that one is healthier than the other?
Mitchem: I would love to have a study done where we can look at the benefits of both. And maybe we’ll fund that, if the government would allow us to fund a collegiate study. Then we could see what’s possible from a wellness perspective — because it is a wellness product in my mind. We could do (the study) on our own, but we’d like to co-fund something at a university level to get it out of the anecdotal data and get it into the real data.