INSIGHTS ON THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY FROM REGULATORY BARRISTER MATTHEW (MATT) LAWSON
Matthew (Matt) Lawson, a UK Regulatory Barrister has penned a series of discussion pieces under the rubric “Insights on the Cannabis Industry”.
In the infancy of the legal cannabis industry, the hot area was cultivation, with the key topics being improving yields and maintaining consistency. As the industry matures, the key area will be extraction – improving the science and ensuring innovation.
It’s important to ensure that the discussions which follow on in this series build our knowledge and understanding, so in this Part 1 we start with the fundamentals – the six Stages of Extraction.
- Grinding: The flower is separated from the plant and ground to a fine powder;
- Extraction: The powder is mixed with a solvent to separate the chemicals and compounds within to make a “crude” oil. At this stage the compounds include cannabinoids, terpenes, waxes, chlorophyll, fats and other sub-stances.
- Winterisation: This involves diluting the “crude” extract in ethanol, and cooling the mixture to very low temperatures (as low as -80 ºC), at which point the waxes solidify and are easily removed from the mixture, leaving an oily ethanol solution. The ethanol is then evaporated to leave only the oil.
- Decarboxylation: Heat is used to convert cannabinoid acids like THCA and CBDA to THC and CBD.
- Distillation: The extract is purified to isolate specific cannabinoids by being heated at specific temperatures to vaporise desired compounds without destroying them. The multi-cannabinoid vapour is then condensed to a liquid, thus separating the cannabinoid compounds from the original extract.
- Isolation: Further refinement can take place to achieve an individual isolated Cannabinoid, with a very high purity rate of the targeted cannabinoid compound through continuous heating and stirring. The cannabinoid isolate crystals are rinsed of any unwanted impurities with chemical solvent solutions to “clean” it.
Matthew (Matt) Lawson is a UK Barrister who has advised Governments and Corporations for over 25 years in respect of human impactors – Food & Ingestibles, Medicines, Medical Devices and inhalation mediums. He provides worldwide Cannabis advice to clients who stem from Governments, to some of the largest multinational CPG corporations, to pharmaceutical giants, through to niche pre-IPO Start-Ups in the CPG and medical fields.