How Noah Cook Is Working to Solve Cannabis’ Quality at Scale Problem

The world at large sees two primary images of cannabis. The grow – rows of cannabis plants growing under the sun or lights – and the final product. But just like any industry, there’s a small army of people between those two points without whom the entire system would collapse. We don’t often realize how complex the machine is, and how many cogs are involved, until we open it up.

Noah Cook is one of those crucial cogs. As one of the foremost experts on extraction, it’s Cook’s job to help make sure that farmers can produce high-quality product at scale while meeting the requirements of one of the most complex and quickly shifting regulatory environments in business.

Of course, Cook didn’t always know that he’d end up helping to build some of largest cannabis extraction facilities on the planet, but he did know his mother, and his mother was an inspiration. A recovered alcoholic who raised three kids by herself while getting her master’s degree, Cook’s mother went on to become a substance abuse counselor dedicated to helping people along their journey of healing.

Cook felt driven to follow in his mother’s footsteps and dedicate his life to helping others, but the road forward wasn’t immediately clear. The cost and amount of schooling involved in becoming a doctor seemed overwhelming, and not the best fit for his more engineering-leaning mind. And then in 2008 his home state of Michigan legalized cannabis, he became a licensed caregiver and discovered his passion.

“I started with small scale extractions for other small caregivers in Michigan, but there weren't enough caregivers and there wasn't enough material to really sustain any type of income. So I decided to move to California and put all my energy into large scale, cannabis concentrates that have the potential to provide medical benefits to the most people possible.”

Through a mix of dedication, constant learning and experimenting and outright hard work, Cook has been enormously successful in his mission, but knows better than almost anyone that the current challenges are still enormous.

From Cook’s perspective, the biggest problem facing the medical cannabis industry ties together both patients and cultivators: failed tests. Testing is necessary to protect patients, but cannabis processors are often drawing from five to ten farms to produce products and are simply unable to handle the complexity of subsequent of meeting very strict regulations, resulting in shortages that can endanger both patients, farms, and processors.

The best way for Cook to help patients then is to help these farms scale while meeting regulations, and despite the enormity of the task, he remains optimistic about a future where anyone who would benefit from cannabis has complete access to their medicine.

“Five years ago I would've said that not realistic with all the pushback. But I really see that now there's a lot of engaged players in this industry and people are really turning to science a lot more instead of conjecture.”

To hear more about how Cook and others in his field are working to make the machines that power natural medicines,  join us in Los Angeles on July 27 for a day devoted to exploring the intersection of cannahemp medical research and manufacturing technology.