Cannabinoid isolation requires several steps from harvesting the biomass to extraction, winterization, decarboxylation (if desired), distillation, and finally chromatographic purification and isolation of the desired cannabinoids. It is during the chromatography step where water is introduced which, as we all know, can be challenging to remove from the desired cannabinoid by distillation or other evaporative technologies.
Flash chromatography is the go-to cannabinoid purification technique because of its effectiveness and relative ease of use. This technology can easily remove THC from CBD in a process known as THC remediation. Flash chromatography is also used to separate and isolate other cannabinoids as well (CBN, CBC, CBG, CBDA, CBCT, etc.).
Cannabichromene (CBC) is one of the four most prevalent cannabinoids expressed by cannabis plants (Pollastro, 2018). Unlike the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol, CBC is benign in this regard, but does have purported health benefits.
Cannabidiol or CBN, is a cannabinoid of interest because of its potential in medicinal applications. However, CBN is not expressed by cannabis plants in high yields and is actually formed from degraded (oxidized) tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
As one of the major cannabinoids present in cannabis, Cannabigerol (CBG), is gaining interest as possible therapeutic. Though all other cannabinoids are created from CBGA (the acid form of CBG), it is metabolized to CBG and then primarily to THC or CBD, depending on the plant species.
In recent years, most of the interest in the medicinal cannabis market has been focused on CBD (THC-free) and, to a lesser extent, THC. However, the market needs are changing with increasing interest now seen in the so-called minor cannabinoids. In this post, I will focus on cannabinol (CBN).
This article contains information relating to the science, process and economics of CBD and THC processing.
Here is an overview of the biology and some of the terms that are used in this industry, and that you will see referred to many times. After that, we'll then look at what makes these plant extracts so unique.
It (almost) doesn’t matter what the intended therapeutic outcome is, for virtually everyone who is working in the business of cannabis processing, CBD / THC remediation proceeds through well recognised processing steps. The introduction of newer legislation has come the (justified) need to ensure the industry runs in a smooth and orderly manner in order to keep outputting products of defined quality. It doesn't matter where on the globe you are, processes are becoming enshrined in and outputs more and more needing to comply with strict standards from quality and legislative directives. % Limits of THC content for example is one of the biggest considerations in many countries right now and already set in many legislative goals.
We’ve looked at the biology, chemistry and the workflow so let's now get to the heart of the matter for many, the process economics. As we stated previously, we need to embrace the rigors of the commercial sector to make economically viable processes out of science. That’s where flash purification can step in.