In an exclusive interview with Benzinga, Audra Horridge vice president of technical solutions at Advanced Vapor Devices (AVD) talks about her journey into the dynamic cannabis tech industry.
AVD, a premier cannabis vaporizer manufacturer with broad industry expertise, produces high-quality cartridges that prioritize safety and prevent leaks.
If you’re interested in understanding more about this cutting-edge technology, come and meet Alex Kwon, co-founder and CEO of Advanced Vapor Devices. He’ll be at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference in Chicago on Sept 27-28.
Horridge’s Contributions To The Cannabis Industry Are Deep Rooted
As an influential player, Horridge provides an inside look into the challenges and aspirations of the sector, particularly emphasizing the innovation, safety and inclusivity she champions. Particularly in view of the underrepresentation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Before her tenure at AVD, Horridge owned the contract manufacturing facility Mobius Pack. “I did all of my formulations and consulting for some of the biggest brands in the industry.”
It was these experiences that shaped her keen eye for detail. “It’s incredibly rewarding for me to get a troubleshooting call, be able to understand immediately why it happened and to suggest procedures to help the production beyond what the initial problem was”
Bridging The Gap In Cannabis Tech Industry
Her journey to the top, however, has not been without challenges. When discussing her experiences as a woman in the STEM field, Horridge notes, “I believe the experiences I’ve listed can happen to anyone, it just happens more to women.”
She candidly speaks of the biases and struggles she faced. “A challenge has been fully owning my voice. Having to be more forward and strong to be seen and heard, while walking the fine line of being tagged as, ‘too much!’” She noted there was blatant disrespect as well. “It’s disrespectful when someone assumes I don’t know anything about the subject at hand, or when a suggestion of mine (or any woman) isn’t given appropriate attention.”
What led Horridge to this particular niche in the cannabis tech world?
“I felt I bridged the gap, which served me surprisingly well. By not falling into either category, but taking the best parts from both, I was able to find a place where I was very valuable with niche cannabis knowledge, competency, and scientific attention to detail,” she says. This insight positioned her as a driving force at AVD. “It seems really simple, but what makes us different is our extreme attention to detail,” she asserts. This detail-oriented approach led to innovations like AVD’s No-Burn Technology, which she claims has “mastered” the challenge of consistent flavor throughout use.
Horridge is not only a leader but also an advocate. Using her influential position, she actively pushes for increased female representation in STEM fields, especially in the cannabis industry. “I always look to advocate and collaborate with women in any field within the industry,” she emphasizes. Going beyond gender roles, she believes in inclusivity and unity. “We can recognize privilege in its many forms, but it doesn’t help anyone to take extreme sides; it further divides us.”
For women aspiring to make their mark in technical roles within the cannabis world, Horridge recommends: “Get experience anywhere you can.” Emphasizing on-the-job learning and specialized knowledge as pivotal to her success, she encourages budding professionals to seek mentorship and networking opportunities. “If you feel you’re not the best at putting yourself out there but you have a lot to offer and/or have a lot of passion, just make one outgoing friend who can go to events with you.”
When asked about the influence she hopes to have on the industry, Horridge’s vision is clear. “My influence is to help abolish gender stereotypes, prejudices, societal teachings about what a woman is and what a woman isn’t,” she asserts, also emphasizing the need for better research and standards within the cannabis tech space.
On The Front Line Of Establishing Key Regulatory Standards
Her role on the Cannabis Committee at the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) is shaping the broader vision for AVD. “The work I do with ASTM is instrumental for AVD’s standardization initiatives,” she claims. AVD is refining procedures for heavy metals sampling, redefining terminologies, and tailoring vaping protocols for cannabis consumption.
“The first standard I worked on was a universal cannabis warning symbol.” She highlighted the significant shift from the initial Canadian “stop sign” design to the more aptly messaged “ISO standard yellow triangle.” However, her involvement doesn’t end there. She’s working on “the assessment of aerosolized vapor, collection methods for heavy metals analysis, standards for components used in vapor hardware, and many more.”
When reflecting on the larger picture of the cannabis industry, Horridge acknowledges the challenge of distinguishing cannabis vaping from nicotine. “We’ve recently started a white paper researching vapor aerosols, and we are conducting puff topography studies to characterize real use cases for vaping patterns,” she shared. With Horridge at the helm of such initiatives, AVD is not just a company, but a vanguard of positive change in the industry.
In the ever-evolving world of cannabis vape technology, Audra Horridge stands as a beacon of innovation, safety, and inclusivity. “It’s exciting that AVD is aligned with the safety and regulatory standards that need to be focused on in the coming years. I am proud to influence an organization that is taking a holistic approach to the industry.”
Her leadership, vision and advocacy are shaping the future of the industry.
Join us at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference to meet other tech firms that are disrupting cannabis technology, including AVD’s CEO Alex Kwon. We will be in Chicago on Sept 27-28. Don’t miss out on a chance to hear about future market forecasts and worldly advice from those embedded in the cannabis industry. Are you ready? Get your tickets today before prices increase and secure a spot at the epicenter of cannabis investment and branding.