Lafayette graduates aim high with marijuana vaporizer
Two recent Lafayette graduates have used their engineering and entrepreneurial skills to develop a product for the medical marijuana market. Andrew Kristof‘14 and Robert Lombino‘15 created the Newton, a vaporizer that allows those who use it to consume marijuana in a controlled way.
Lombino and Kristof founded their company, Ananas, with the help of the investment programCanopyBoulder, which helps startup companies develop technologies and ideas in various areas of the cannabis industry.
They recently moved the company to Boulder, Colo., where the use of marijuana is legal.
“Our company is called ‘Ananas’ which is the name for pineapple,” Lombino said. “Pineapple is one of many fruits that contains terpenes. Terpenes are chemicals, also found in cannabis, that are responsible for the unique smell.”
Kristof, who majored in mechanical engineering and Lombino, who majored in electricaland computer engineering, designed their vaporizer during their sophomore year at Lafayette. A vaporizer, or vape, is an inhalation device typically used with chemicals or smokable plants.
“My roommate and I were using a vaporizer and realized it wasn’t using the technology that we had available to us,” Lombino said. “We decided to innovate vaporization integrating this modern technology into the vaporization experience.”
Out of this experimentation came the Newton, a vaporizer that Lombino hopes to market to the medical marijuana market.
“We designed the Newton to be able to accurately heat cannabis to the perfect temperature as well as precisely monitor their dosage,” Lombino said.“It will also track their consumption patterns.”
According to Lombino, the hardest part about bringing a new vaporizer to the market is getting it approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Since there are only four states who have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and 23 that have legalized it for medical use, it makes it difficult to get the FDA to approve the vaporizer for use throughout the country.
“FDA approval is a very expensive and difficult process, so that is something that we hope to pursue in 2017,” Lombino said. “We are estimating that the federal government will legalize medical cannabis in all 50 states at the end of the decade. At that time, it will be a viable option to pursue a FDA classification for the Newton.”
Although the Newton will be mainly for medical use, Lombino and Kristofalso want it to be used for recreational purposes.
“We want to capture part of the recreational market, which includes health and wellness enthusiasts, who want to use cannabis as a healthy alternative to alcohol,” Lombino said.
For the future, the Lafayette grads hope that their product will be the first choice of physicians to recommend to their patient in offices and in hospitals.
The Newton is scheduled to launch in 2016. Lombino and Kristof, his business partner who could not be contacted, are estimating that their product will cost in between $600 and $800.