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A Balancing Act: Kin Slips & California Cannabis Regulations

Kin Slips are compact, cannabis-infused sublingual strips, crafted to rapidly dissolve under your tongue. A Kin Slip delivers a precise dose of cannabinoids straight into the bloodstream in around 10-15 minutes.

Each of Kin Slips’ proprietary blends is composed of cannabinoids, terpenes, and all-natural ingredients for great taste with a hyper-efficient delivery system.

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Kin Slips were designed with discretion in mind—from the individually wrapped pocket-sized slips to their subtle packaging, the strips are perfect for the on-the-go cannabis consumer. The high-tech sublingual delivery method and all-natural formulation were an immediate hit with consumers when Kin Slips went on sale in California dispensaries in 2017.

New York was a very anti-cannabis state, and growing up there, cannabis was never anything that I was even privy to.

Leafly caught up with Kin Slips co-founder Josh Kirby to learn more about his company, and how the Kin Slips team is keeping up with the fast and furious pace of cannabis rules and regulations issuing from the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC).

Josh Kirby, Co-Founder of Kin Slips

Kirby got his start in the cannabis industry in 2012. “I was living in New York at the time,” he tells us. “That’s where I’m from. And I was kind of in between careers. New York was a very anti-cannabis state, and growing up there, cannabis was never anything that I was even privy to.”

Photo: Mason Trinca, Kin Slips

(Photo by Mason Trinca for Leafly)

That’s when Kirby saw the news that cannabis had been legalized in Colorado and Washington. He recalls, “It just completely blew my mind. It was a really fortuitous time for me, because I was looking for the next step in life—and I decided that I wanted to start a cannabis business.”

So Kirby moved to Seattle, where he embarked on his first cannabis endeavor. He worked on a series of cannabis ventures and products, eventually meeting the cannabis collaborators and business partners with whom he co-founded Kin Slips in Oakland, in November 2016.

Photo: Mason Trinca, Kin Slips

(Photo by Mason Trinca for Leafly)

Sublingual Delivery Makes a Difference

What sets Kin Slips apart from other edible cannabis brands, Kirby says, is the sublingual delivery method: “We looked at other industries that worked on drug delivery methods—like the pharmaceutical and alternative medicine industries—to see what was effective.” The Kin Slips development team believed that sublingual absorption was the key to product success.

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So they honed in on developing technology to process and manufacture the unique delivery system. “It was a very small team,” Kirby says. “We started by doing a ton of research into all the available strain data that was out there.”

The team researched how people reacted to various combinations of terpenes, THC, and other cannabinoids. Then they attempted to replicate those effects in a repeatable product. Kirby recalls, “We went to friends and family, gave them a bunch of different types of blends, and had them take a double-blind survey.” They realized they had created something special, Kirby says, when people reported experiencing exactly what Kin Slips was aiming to deliver: a quick onset, with reliable, enjoyable effects.

Navigating California’s Cannabis Regulations

Kin Slips went on sale in California dispensaries on April 4, 2017. The company quickly grew, and now has a 22-person staff working in management and production. It’s been a banner first year for Kin Slips, albeit with the natural ebbs and flows of starting any business. “Especially in the cannabis industry right now,” Kirby points out, “you’re going to have additional challenges.”

Photo: Mason Trinca, Kin Slips

(Photo by Mason Trinca for Leafly)

Many of those additional challenges have to do with the steady stream of regulations issuing from California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control. It’s been tricky for cannabis businesses to navigate all the complex rules—especially since a whole new set took effect on July 1.

Cannabis companies had six months from Jan. 1 until July 1, 2018 to become fully compliant with stringent testing, packaging requirements and more, in accordance with the BCC. Many had to scramble as the BCC released new rules leading up to July 1, often giving businesses little time to comply.

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How is Kin Slips keeping up with California’s onslaught of regulations governing legal cannabis manufacturing, testing, and consumption?

“It’s complicated,” Kirby admits. “Our legal team, friends in the industry, the National Cannabis Bar Association—everyone’s still figuring out what is going on right now, because regulations keep coming down in spurts.”

Lab Testing and Packaging Snafus

Kin Slips was prepared to handle the new product testing requirements, says Kirby. At least, they thought they were. “We knew we had this super clean product,” Kirby says. “We made sure that we were nailing all of our label claims. We’d even built our own internal testing lab to verify our results before they went out to a third-party lab.” However, third-party labs also had to meet new government certifications. This meant that some of those labs’ testing methods changed.

It’s complicated. Our legal team, friends in the industry, the National Cannabis Bar Association—everyone's still figuring out what is going on right now, because regulations keep coming down in spurts.

This posed a problem for Kin Slips, says Kirby: “The labs skewed away from methods that work to properly test a unique product like ours. So, overnight, we started getting results back that didn’t make any sense.” They found a lab that could test the product properly, solving the issue—but not without a fair amount of stress. “We had a month of sleepless nights trying to figure out what was going on,” Kirby laughs.

Regulations around packaging also posed difficulties. With the July 1 date looming, new rules were suddenly released in June, changing the required wording on packaging. “We had to scramble to relabel all our products,” Kirby says. “We had to find additional packaging. It cost us a lot of wasted time, and a lot of wasted material.”

On the Other Side

Despite last-minute labeling, lab testing, and troubleshooting, Kin Slips managed to come through with a fully compliant product, and is currently available throughout California. “We’re in a really good position right now,” Kirby says.

(Photo by Mason Trinca for Leafly)

Kin Slips are available in three all-natural, vegan, gluten- and sugar-free formulations. Cloud Buster is a sativa-dominant blend for creative energy and focus. Nice Dream is a blend of relaxing indica-dominant cannabinoids and terpenes, for balance and tranquility. And Park Life is formulated with pain-relieving CBD cannabinoids and terpenes for calming comfort and relief, with low THC.

Check out this short video by cartoonist Alexander Derwick on how Kin Slips’ sublinguals differ from other cannabis edibles, and look for Kin Slips at dispensaries all over California.

Mary Jane Gibson's Bio Image
Mary Jane Gibson

Mary Jane Gibson is Leafly's Product Specialist in Southern California. She wrote and edited for High Times for over a decade. Currently based in Los Angeles, she writes about cannabis culture, entertainment, products, and cutting-edge trends. Mary Jane also co-hosts a podcast, Weed + Grub, with comedian Mike Glazer.

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