Saturday, June 15, 2024

Somatik Founder Talks About His Quest To Normalize Cannabis

When I was 24,  I drank a homemade cannabis product dubbed “weed milk” — a sort of lumpy, dairy based liquid you were best served to take in room where you couldn’t actually see the consistency — and attended an avante-garde jazz concert. Alone or combined, neither of these activities were good ideas. I spent most of the evening high to the point of fear, hoping my friend wouldn’t stray too far so if I needed use the restroom they could hold my hand and walk me there.

I wish I was exaggerating, I wish that when I think back to an evening 14 years prior, my forehead wouldn’t break out in sweat. But it does. And I am not alone in an experience like this. For those who’ve consumed edibles in their lifetime, there has been that moment (I can think of three, maybe four off the top of my head) when you have incorrectly dosed yourself and you are trapped in a near psychedelic middle ground between real and altered states, curled into a necessary fetal position, willing your body to metabolize faster. Edibles, as many of us have experienced, can be dangerous — that is, if grasping for a hold on reality is a danger to you.

The recent spate of state legalization of weed has offered new and improved edible experiences. With legalization — and the lead up to it — comes regulation, and with regulation and packaging instructions, comes a better chance for consumers to properly consume the product. Even better, edibles aren’t just brownies your friend experimented with after a few glasses of wine; edibles are produced in test kitchens by people who care about both the flavor and the experience they’re providing. People like Somatik founder Christopher Schroeder and his partner (in business and life) Clayton Coker. Their products — cannabis-infused chocolate covered Ritual Coffee beans and goji berries (“Sparks”) and cannabis-infused iced coffee — aren’t just vessels for super-high experiences; they taste good, and, taken properly, they make you feel good, focused, productive even. And this is no accident.

Photos courtesy of Somatik

Before taking the leap and opening Somatik, Schroeder had ruptured two discs in his back. He’d buoyed his physical therapy with cannabis and the resulting experience turned on the lightbulb. “I can see why this works now,” he said of the experience, “and now I want to create a product that provides a more comfortable way to try it.” Smoking — cannabis or otherwise — connotes health risks, so edibles are an easier sell for those looking to give marijuana a try. Schroeder wanted to create a product that played up the “really good qualities of things people already have relationships with.” Things like coffee in the morning, or an iced beverage when it’s hot outside —routines that he saw as entry points for people to insert low-dose, high quality marijuana products into.

Eileen Rinaldi, the founder of San Francisco coffee roaster Ritual Coffee, had done something similar with her company and Schroeder was drawn to it. “It was a natural parallel,” he says, “industries that had taken a product and created a connoisseur version of it.” For Somatik, Schroeder wanted to normalize the idea of ingesting cannabis, like Rinaldi had normalized drinking high-end coffee. After talking, he thought maybe they could do something together, maybe they could try and bring his want of a high-quality, good-tasting, low-dose edible to the market. So they did.

Schroeder likes that the combination of coffee and THC is synergetic, the two working together on the brain’s receptors to get a “more euphoric feeling.”

Photos courtesy of Somatik

The purpose of Somatik’s products aren’t to knock you on your ass (though the potential is there), it’s for folks to be able to micro-dose, to control their high and with it feel a boost in their mood. It’s illegal for cannabis products to have additive supplements, so the combination of coffee and weed is the only way to add an energy factor to the marijuana experience. For Schroeder, though, it goes beyond this: “I’d love to see Somatik at people’s desk at work. They take a sip here, they take a sip there. It keeps you focused but without the physical stress.”

I’ve tried Somatik’s beans a few times and if you follow the helpful dosing guide on the side of the box, it works great. I felt focused and actually did some writing that wasn’t just descriptions of colors and doodles. My experience with the coffee — a probably too large amount prior to a terrifying film in a crowded theater — was more intense, the affects longer lasting and more debilitating. I’ll chalk that up to my choice of activity and probably not being overly careful about how much I consumed.

Talking to Schroeder and Clayton about their business is refreshing. It’s two people whose main strategy is “good quality things that taste good and make you feel good.” Two people who want to carve out a sustainable, consumer-friendly niche in a rapidly expanding market. They won’t stop with coffee and chocolate covered edibles; a wide variety of other beverages and products are already in the works. But they will stick to the plan: make tasty things that make you feel good.  And by doing so continue to pull the stereotype of edibles away from wide-eyed nights full of fear and avante-garde jazz. And for that, I think I can say thank you, for myself and for the rest of us.


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