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At State's First Licensed Edible Pot Company, These Brothers Are All Business

Gabriel Spitzer
The three Devlin brothers (left to right: Patrick, Michael and Dan) created the first company licensed in Washington to produce marijuana-infused edibles.

Washington’s recreational pot shops still aren’t selling marijuana food, partly because making the rules for it turned out to be so complicated. But the three brothers behind the state’s first licensed edibles processor are embracing the regulations, and generally looking to be the grown-ups in the new industry.

The youngest Devlin brother, Michael, came up with the business idea. He then recuirted middle brother Patrick and big brother Daniel just weeks after Washington legalized recreational marijuana.

“At Thanksgiving, we were all together. And I had done some preliminary financial analysis, and written it down on a piece of paper, and I’m passing it underneath the table to my brothers and saying, ‘We should do this! We should do this!” Michael said.

The result is Db3 — named for the three Devlin brothers. They are their 50s and 60s, and none has a background in pot commerce. Their experience is in marketing, business development and, crucially, food processing – a perfect fit, they say, to break into a sector they believe will soon be a major chunk of the marijuana market.

Waiting For The Plants

The Devlin brothers’ industrial food lab in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood used to be an ordinary food processing facility. It’s plain and discreet from the outside, while stainless steel machines and appliances fill the rooms indoors.

In rooms where the previous occupant used to assemble chicken salad, rows of pungent-smelling Black 84, Sage and Chedderhead plants now extend their spidery branches.

Because edibles processors weren’t licensed until July, Db3’s plants won’t be mature for another month or so. Eventually they’ll be harvested and processed with pure alcohol to extract their essential oils. That amber oil then becomes the key ingredient.

‘We Don’t Want To Use The Word ‘Candy’’

Edibles have been tricky for regulators in Washington. Much of what’s sold on the gray and black markets are things like candy bars and lollipops, and some don’t make clear how much THC is inside.

In late June, the state Liquor Control Board issued emergency rules clamping down on edibles, barring products that might appeal to children (no gummy bears or M&M look-alikes), and tightening up labeling requirements.

Db3 is making energy drink shots, flavor drops for other beverages as well as “lozenges.”

“I call the category melt-aways,” Patrick said.

So, are those a hard candy-type consistency?

“They are like a hard lozenge-type consistency,” Patrick corrected.

“We don’t want to use the word ‘candy,”’ brother Michael chimed in.

The brothers plan to offer baked goods and maybe some chocolates, but nothing that could be mistaken, they hope, for something you’d get in your trick-or-treat bag.

Dose Control

They’re also sticklers for what Patrick called dose control — transparency around how much active ingredient is in the product, and how big a serving size is. They don’t want someone just dabbling, or returning to cannabis after many years of abstaining to accidentally eat a Cheech-and-Chong-size dose.

“Each one of our packages are identified with graphics indicating the dose, and clearly identifying what the serving size is, giving the consumer the opportunity of picking the dose that they want, and then being able to scale that to the experience they’re looking for,” said Patrick.

The brothers say they expect to have their Zoots line of products on shelves sometime in September.

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.