Susan Murch, chemistry professor at UBC Okanagan, has partnered with a BCIT professor and Pacific Rim Brands, a Kelowna-based integrated cannabis company to develop beverage formulas containing cannabis extracts. —Image: contributed

UBCO and BCIT team up to brew cannabis-infused beverages

The two schools have partnered with Pacific Rim Brands, a Kelowna-based integrated cannabis company

A unique partnership between UBC Okanagan, the British Columbia Institute of Technology and a private company, has opened the door for the research and development of cannabis-infused beverages.

Professor Susan Murch, who teaches chemistry at UBC Okanagan, and Paula Brown, director of BCIT’s Natural Health and Food Products Research Group and Canada Research Chair in Phytoanalytics have partnered with Pacific Rim Brands, a Kelowna-based integrated cannabis company to develop beverage formulas containing cannabis extracts.

“We are at the early stages of this research and are very excited about the potential for both interesting science and new products for consumers,” says Murch.

RELATED: Little variety in THC levels with different cannabis strains, says UBCO study

Murch’s research investigates the chemistry of plants and how plant chemistry affects human health. She’s interested in cannabis ingredients and how they can be used in beverages.

“We are seeing industry recalls in cannabis products because we really don’t know how to use the ingredients on a large scale,” she says. “Making stable products that can sit on store shelves for months or years requires innovation.”

BCIT’s Paula Brown also investigates plant chemistry and works with the natural products industry to develop new products. At the same time, she works to establish standards of quality and ensure regulatory compliance.

“Like any new sector, the science and formulation will be the most important element to ensure consistency, scalability and trust,” says Brown. “There is a lot of work to be done to develop stable, high-quality, consistent cannabis formulations that consumers can use with confidence.”

The partnership with Pacific Rim allows Murch and Brown to develop high-quality cannabis beverages for health, wellness and leisure, explains Kevin Letun, founder and chief strategy officer of Pacific Rim Brands.

RELATED: More cannabis jobs to come to Kelowna

“This is an exciting time for research institutions and cannabis companies in the private sector,” says Letun. “The impeccable credentials of these professors and their on-going research will give industry partners and the consumer the quality assurance they require.”

The collaboration between BCIT, UBC Okanagan and Pacific Rim Brands provides the opportunity to conduct more research about the chemicals in cannabis and at the same time conduct research on products that can be brought to markets across Canada and globally,” says Kim Dotto, Dean of Applied Research at BCIT.

“This partnership reconfirms the ongoing commitment required to drive research nationally and internationally,” adds Dotto. “BCIT is committed to these collaborations and applauds the highly-skilled researchers involved with this exciting project.”

Phil Barker, vice-principal research and innovation at UBC’s Okanagan campus, says the university has a long history of innovation and commercializing new products.

“Our campus has a growing reputation for embracing creativity and risk-taking, and this research partnership is no exception,” says Barker. “We’re excited to be at the forefront of responsible research that prioritizes the safe use of cannabis in our communities.”

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