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Celebrity Influence in Cannabis Technology

Teaming Up with Tyson: Chris Kanik, CEO of Smart Cups talks about joining forces with Tyson Ranch to introduce innovations in cannabis beverages.

Supposedly impossible technologies are usually a goldmine just waiting to happen. Through combining the power of celebrity with progressive science, Tyson Ranch and Smart Cups are developing one of the most exciting cannabis products of 2020. 


While he may not walk on water, Chris Kanik, CEO of Smart Cups, had an epiphany about turning his water into alcohol at a Taco Tuesday. Instead of waiting for his drink at the bar, or even having to order one, he wanted something more accessible. He wanted to be able to use a cup of water to create his drink. Now, he has the solution. Host Kristina Etter spoke with Kanik and Rob Hickman, CEO of Tyson Ranch, about how they are making 3D printed drinks and the development of this partnership. 

By encapsulating material in a proprietary polymer blend, Smart Cups can create readymade energy drinks, alcoholic drinks, and cannabis-infused beverage. “It does a nice job at creating a shell for the ingredients and does a nice job sticking on surfaces,” Kanik said. “It’s an amphiphilic polymer, so when it comes into contact with a liquid, not just water any liquid, it releases. The shell opens up, releasing the ingredients, and there’s a self-stirring mechanism involved that then creates that beverage, so you don’t need to stir. In a couple of seconds, you have that product.” 

All that’s needed to access these products is water, as any liquid will open up the polymers, and create the beverage. Kanik figured out the science behind it by dehydrating Everclear and mixing readymade drinks in his kitchen. After he had three flavors of alcohol mix, he partnered with an inventor to figure out the polymer delivery system. Later, this experimentation would lead to an exciting deal with champion Mike Tyson. 

The polymer printing technology is meant to be a medical delivery system. Smart Cups aims to be the company that normalizes this technology and proves its value in the free-market. 

“IBM went out years ago and created IBM Watson, which is artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence was like the hot thing out there, and it cost 600 million dollars to install it,” Hickman explained. “They run national commercial and everybody wondered why. They were making everyone aware of the technology, and then they started creating products from that, using AI, which then made it consumer-ready. So it’s similar, that’s why I was interested in [Kanik], and what he was doing, it was very similar to that.” 


While the partnership between Smart Cups and Tyson Ranch will lead to CBD products shortly after the ruling on whether or not people can consume CBD in America, there’s more in the works. “When I looked at the cannabis space, I viewed it more through a pharmaceutical lens,” Kanik stated. 

The delivery system behind Smart Cups allows for specific formulations of any reasonable materials. Realistically, Smart Cups would be able to contain specific cannabinoid concentrations, such as CBG or CBC content, that would be ideal for dosing. Cannabis research and prescription have been held back by inferior dosing methods for decades. This delivery system might give a significant push for the modernization of cannabis dosing. 

“I realized there was a deficiency in dosing solutions in the industry,” Kanik said. “So I thought that this would be a perfect solution that could help further legitimize the industry and make it even more mainstream from a medicinal standpoint because if you’re a doctor, how do you tell your patients to take this? What’s the proper dosage?” 

While Smart Cups will be an excellent medical tool, their recreation value is also apparent, and not to be underrated. Combined with the star power behind the ranch and other collaborations, the technology behind Smart Cups is ready to burst into the mainstream. 


Even without Mike Tyson’s return to fighting on September 12th, 2020, he is one of the most famous Americans ever to live. Having his ranch as a serious partner means that Smart Cups are already enjoying household brand legitimacy. Other partners mentioned by Hickman include William Shatner, and so the limit of the reach of these companies is literally up in the stars. 

The old world of cannabis is dying. No longer is it to be bought behind dumpsters from teenagers looking to replace a broken guitar amp. Now the future of cannabis lies within convenient delivery methods, consistent dosing, and major celebrities. Acceptance is here in that we know it’s profitable. Now it’s just up for the entrepreneurs to get cannabis in pantries and medicine cabinets across the world. 

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Data: Illinois Sees Record Marijuana Sales Amid Pandemic

Medical marijuana

Marijuana sales in Illinois have totaled more than $300 million since the start of the year, with July having the most sales of any month, according to state figures.

July cannabis sales hit $61 million, which is up from $47.6 million in June and $44.3 million in May, according to the Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation and New Frontier Data.

One reason for the increase in sales could be the customers’ ability to order online, which many dispensaries started to keep lines down, the Chicago Tribune reported.

“We got a lot better at being able to get people in and out because of the online order reservations,” said Jonah Rapino, spokesman for NuEra, which has dispensaries in Chicago, East Peoria and Urbana and recently changed its name from NuMed.

The amount of money that customers spend at dispensaries has also increased. The average transaction was $126 in the first three months of the year but increased to $150 in April, May and June, according to Washington, D.C.-based New Frontier.

Greg Butler, chief commercial officer at Chicago-based marijuana company Cresco Labs, said the pandemic could be credited to the increase in demand, too.

More product availability could also be a contributing factor to the high demand. During the beginning of the year, there were some supply issues. The Tribune previously reported that dispensaries said they needed more marijuana and employees.

Butler noted that many facilities that grow marijuana expanded operation, and those products started hitting the shelves over the summer. Cresco expanded at some of its facilities and increased production at its Joliet location.

“With supply picking up, it has allowed customers to purchase that extra product or two that might not have been available,” said Michael Mandera, general manager of the Herbal Care Center dispensary.

Katie Johnston-Smith, 33, who was feeling “a good, healthy amount of panic” at the beginning of the pandemic, has started using marijuana a few times a week compared to a couple times a month.

Experts say she is not the only one. Many people have chosen marijuana as a way to decrease anxiety brought on by the pandemic.

“It was pretty nice because it did help me mellow out,” Johnston-Smith said. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is way better than mellowing out with a glass of wine.‘”