Wes Burk, cofounder and vice president of Emerald Scientific, discusses this year's Emerald Conference, some of Emerald’s other initiatives in cannabis science, and their plans going into 2020
The Emerald Conference will be taking place in a few short weeks (February 26–29) in beautiful San Diego, California. We recently spoke with Wes Burk, cofounder and vice president of Emerald Scientific, about the conference, some of Emerald’s other initiatives in cannabis science, and their plans going into 2020.
What’s new at this year’s Emerald Conference? What do you look forward to the most?
Wes Burk: The most exciting thing about this year’s Emerald Conference is the content. We have a 31-member scientific committee that has helped curate the content and quality of presentations, so this year promises to be even more cutting edge than previous years. Additionally, we have added a “Quality Summit” on Saturday which will focus on current good manufacturing practices (cGMP), standardization, and features a special Nomenclature Workshop. These are pressing topics that this industry is currently feverishly addressing.
It was recently announced that The Emerald Conference was purchased by Marijuana Business Daily (MJBiz). How will that acquisition change future editions of The Emerald Conference? Do you hope to expand your reach of bringing cannabis science to a broader audience?
Burk: This acquisition represents an evolution in a long standing relationship between MJBiz Daily and Emerald Scientific. The partnership will continue and allows each organization to leverage its strengths. MJBiz will bring logistics, support, and exposure for the conference to an unprecedented level allowing Emerald Scientific to continue to collaborate on the curation of scientific content. We will certainly reach a broader audience such as bio tech and life sciences while continuing to set the standard for content. This is a very positive partnership for all of cannabis science!
What prompted you to create your webinar series Extraction Efficiency? What feedback or engagement have you received?
Burk: The Emerald Extraction Efficiency series was created to introduce newer extraction professionals to the complexities of supercritical extraction and help inspire a more sophisticated approach to running extraction labs. There are so many variables that need to be understood and managed to tune extractions and thereby maximize return on investment (ROI) for those operations. The Emerald Extraction Efficiency series does a great job of discussing best practices around which to build processes.
Can you talk about your work with the development of the Emerald Test? What have you learned through executing this test?
Burk: The Emerald Test was created to help quality assurance labs meet oversight and accreditation requirements. It has evolved into an industry benchmark, showing trends and areas of challenge for analysis of what is a very complex plant with ever evolving matrixes that must be dealt with.
What advice would you give to labs that have not yet enrolled in the Emerald Test?
Burk: Not only does the Emerald Test satisfy regulatory requirements and accreditation requirements in most cases, it also gives a lab the ability to see how they perform compared to other labs around the world due to the Inter-Laboratory Comparison component of the test. If a lab performs well, they also receive the Emerald Badge which can be used to show the public they are proficient in these disciplines and many labs are using their badges aggressively in their marketing.
What other standards or accreditations do you want to see established in the cannabis industry?
Burk: When it comes to standards, what we would most like to see is the creation and validation of standard methods for across the major testing categories: potency, residual solvents, microbial, heavy metals, and pesticide analysis. This would be a tremendous step towards ensuring consumers can better trust the labels and make sound purchasing decisions normalizing outcomes to expectations.
Through your company Emerald Scientific, the Emerald Conference, your webinar series on extractions, your help developing the Emerald Test, and your advocacy, what do you most want to accomplish for the cannabis industry?
Burk: One of the core values that Emerald Scientific is proud to promote is quality science. Only through rigorous science can we build an industry on predictable, reliable outcomes for patients and consumers and only then can we expect our industry to continue to thrive.
You have developed so many tools and resources for the industry, what’s next for you?
Burk: 2020 promises to be a very exciting year for Emerald Scientific! We have just launched our Canadian subsidiary and we look forward to the new opportunities and relationships we are forging there. We are also proud of our newly announced partnership with PerkinElmer and now, with capital instrumentation, are thrilled to bring a full suite of solutions to the cannabis industry.