Province Brands CEO Dooma Wendschuh and the Cannabis “Alcohol Killer”
MAY 16, 2017 - Province Brands is the brainchild of former Assasin’s Creed developer Dooma Wendschuh. These are a range of alcohol-free, cannabinoid-charged adult beverages that can be consumed instead of alcholic beverages but without the detrimental side effects of alcohol. And better still, the “dose curve” of these novel creations will emulate that of alcohol, meaning consumers won’t need an hour for the effect to come on, and 4-6 hours for the effects to wear off. The company is in the process of capitalizing its business plan, and anticipates becoming a publicly traded company in due course.
James West: Dooma, thanks for joining us today.
Dooma Wendschuh: Thank you.
James West: Dooma, let’s start with an overview: what’s the value proposition for investors in Province Brands?
Dooma Wendschuh: It is a tremendous value proposition and a chance not just to be involved in what looks like the future of the cannabis industry, but also to be involved in a business that will fundamentally change the world, and change the way that people think of psychoactives.
James West: Interesting. And how will you do that?
Dooma Wendschuh: At Province, we make beer and spirits, but our beer does not contain alcohol, and our spirits do not contain alcohol. These products instead intoxicate you using marijuana, or marijuana’s cannabinoids, and they’re designed to really be what we call an ‘alcohol killer’ – basically, a true competitor to alcohol in every sense of the word.
So, think about timing. When you consume a marijuana beverage, the effect won’t hit you for an hour or an hour and a half. It’s crazy, it’s like, you go to your business drinks, you don’t feel it till you’re driving home; it’s pointless. Our products don’t have that problem. Our products are going to hit you in ten minutes or less, just like alcohol.
And what about how long you stay intoxicated? With marijuana edibles, you’re often intoxicated for six hours or more; that’s a big commitment, you know? Nobody would buy a $45 cocktail at the start of dinner that would get them drunk all night long, but buying three $15 cocktails over the course of an evening, that’s totally normal because we’re used to self-titration. We’re used to having a short duration of effect and limiting – because we know how long it’s going to stay in our system, we’re able to consume multiple iterations of the product.
So we’re actually developing a product to shorten the duration of effect of edible cannabis, so that between the ability to shorten the onset time and then shorten the duration of effect, we can create a dose-response curve for edible cannabis which is almost identical to the dose-response curve of alcohol.
And lastly, we can actually create a sensation – and this is not something that we have right now, this is an R&D project for the future – but we’re working on creating a sensation that will deliver a feeling a lot like the pleasant sensation of drinking alcohol. So when you drink it, you won’t feel that stoned, high, anti-social feeling, you’ll feel the more social, high-energy fun feeling that you get with alcohol.
James West: Ha! With uncontrollable belly laughter included?
Dooma Wendschuh: We hope so. Depends how you react to booze, I guess.
James West: Sure. So how do you foresee this fitting into the regulatory framework of the Canadian government, and also, secondarily, of the US government?
Dooma Wendschuh: Well, products like ours would be legal currently in about 40 US states; I think there’s 44 US states that have legalized medical marijuana. Some of them have some strange rules which would make our beverage not legal, but about 40 of those states, we could sell our product. Now, that’s legal under state law, of course; illegal under federal law, but that’s how it is everywhere in the United States.
There are close to 30 countries in the world that have a medical marijuana program of some form or another, and in many of those countries, our product would be legal as well.
Currently, our product would not be legal in Canada, which is our home country, we’re a Canadian company; but that’s okay, because they’ve announced that they are about to pass recreational legalization, and really, the impetus for starting Province in Canada is to be ready, to be the first cannabis-powered beverage that is available when recreational legalization begins, to have a huge head start and to dominate the Canadian industry.
In the meantime, we can, ship from Canada to other countries, and we intend to do that as well.
James West: Okay. So it sounds like you are targeting an exclusively recreational market; you don’t have, or anticipate producing, a medical marijuana product?
Dooma Wendschuh: Well, that’s actually – everyone asks me that, but in truth, it’s all the same, right? I mean, the guy who grows the oranges, is he making medicine? No, he’s an orange farmer, but if someone has a cold and buys those oranges because it has Vitamin C, to them, it’s medicine, right? From our perspective, we make a fantastic delivery mechanism for cannabis, probably the best I’ve ever experienced. And a lot of people are probably going to agree that this is a great delivery mechanism, and if you’re one of those folks for whom cannabis is going to help you medically, this is a great way to take your medicine. It’s fun, it’s relaxed, it’s not uptight like taking a pill.
So it’s certainly a product that we can sell in any medical market where beverages are allowed, which is almost every medical market in the world.
James West: Okay. So are you suggesting that, through this formulation process, you will be able to isolate and remove the negative effects of cannabis sort of consumption, like anxiety and discomfort and, in my case, complete and total anti-sociability and introspection?
Dooma Wendschuh: Oh man, that sounds terrible. I can’t say that we’re going to be able to do all of those things; in reality, our business is about creating an alcohol-like sensation from cannabis. Now, there are compounds in cannabis that will give certain people those type of side effects. Now, we don’t use all the compounds from cannabis in all of our products, so it’s very likely you’ll be able to find a product that wouldn’t give you any of those side effects. But again, we can’t promise that for everyone.
Our goal is, again, to take the wild and unruliness of marijuana and transform it into something that is predictable, that is reliable, and that is a class of beverage that is a lot closer to an alcohol sensation than the typical cannabis sensation.
James West: So, a socially acceptable and I guess, optimized way to consume cannabis and just glean its more favourable effects?
Dooma Wendschuh: I think so too, yes. We are focusing on enhancing the favourable effects of the plant, but who knows if we’ll be able to minimize some of the side effects that some people do experience.
James West: Sure. Okay, so I’m curious as to your approach to the market. If you’re going into the alcoholic beverage market, which it sounds like that’s your target audience, how are you going to achieve what you’re proposing? What kind of track record can you show me that would give me a degree of confidence that you’re able to achieve your objectives?
Dooma Wendschuh: We have a phenomenal team, and guys who are all veterans, who have done this before. One of my co-founders launched a very successful brand of gin, which became a global brand, and then shortly thereafter, created a vodka which was known around the world, is still known around the world, and sold that to one of the major alcohol companies.
We’re actually, one of our advisors also started a major vodka company and also made a gin, interestingly enough, and he may actually end up joining our team in the next couple of months in a full time capacity, which is exciting.
We’ve got a veteran list of guys who’ve been successful in creating luxury beverages in the past, and we also have two guys – myself and one other – who’ve been tremendously successful in the cannabis industry as well. So our team boasts 13 years combined experience in cannabis, 19 Cannabis Cup wins, with three High Times World Cup Cannabis Cup wins. We also have 14 years’ experience in the alcohol industry, creating some of the better-known alcohol brands that are out there.
James West: So you’ve got the credibility on the street, you’ve got the credibility in the lab, and you’ve got the marketing chops, by the sounds of it. What’s your background?
Dooma Wendschuh: My background, I grew up in Miami, Florida. Did undergraduate at Princeton, grad school at USC. Cory May and I started a company to produce motion pictures. We weren’t super successful in making motion pictures, but we pivoted that business into the video game space, where we did find a lot of success. The franchises that we worked on or created, or helped create, are known around the world: Prince of Persia, we did three games in that series. Assassins Creed was a franchise where we were involved since the inception; Army of Two, the second-most recent Batman Game, Batman: Arkham Origins, just to name a few.
So we had a company called Sekretagent Productions, with offices in Los Angeles and also in Montreal, Canada.
James West: Okay. That’s interesting. So you’re in the process now of raising capital for your go-public strategy?
Dooma Wendschuh: Absolutely. We are definitely considering the option of taking Province public, and we’ll do that at the appropriate time. In the short term, we are in the midst of a friends and family round, raising capital actually currently, and should have that closed in the next few months.
James West: All right, Dooma. That’s a brilliant introduction to Province Brands. We wish you the utmost success, and we’ll come back to you in a couple of quarters’ time and see how you’re making out. Thank you for your time today.
Dooma Wendschuh: Wonderful. Thank you, it’s great to be here, and thanks for the opportunity.
James West: Boom.