As science progresses, will your cannabis come from the cannabis plant or from the laboratory? It turns out that scientists have learned how to use genetically modified yeast to produce the same chemicals found in the marijuana plant. Some biotech companies say they can produce “99% pharmaceutical grade” cannabis products.
The Lesser Know Chemicals in Cannabis
Most people who smoke cannabis for the high are enjoying the THC in cannabis. Those looking for medicinal effects are relying on CBD. Other cannabinoids, such as CBG, CBN, THCV, and THCA are present in lesser amounts in the cannabis plant and can be produced in the lab more efficiently than by extracting them from normal cannabis flower.
A Quick Guide to the Minor Cannabinoids
CBG or cannabigerol in the acid form is the precursor of THC, CBD, and CBC.
CBN or cannabinol is a breakdown product of THC and is found in larger quantities in aged marijuana. It produces about a fourth of the high of THC.
THCV or tetrahydrocannabivarin does not produce a high and interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the human body. Little is known about its effects.
THCA or tetrahydrocannabinolic acid is a THC precursor. While it is found in fresh cannabis before it dries, it converts by decarboxylation to THC with drying and especially with smoking. It is present in substantial amounts (50% to 90%) in cannabis resin concentrates like hash oil and hashish.
Why Are Minor Cannabinoids Important?
Although marijuana has been enjoyed for years for its high, the medicinal properties of cannabinoids are becoming more and more important. Scientists want to be able to produce the “lesser cannabinoids” for research and potential therapeutic uses. Potential uses of these chemicals include treatments for autoimmune diseases, cancer, sleep disorders, anxiety conditions, neurological diseases, epileptic conditions, inflammatory conditions, and pain syndromes.
Cost Effectiveness of Lab Grown Cannabinoids
The cost of extracting minor cannabinoids from marijuana plants is substantially more than extracting themin a lab setting. Wholesale prices for CBGA can run $20 a gram, CBN $40 to $60 a gram. Some research companies say they can produce these chemicals with their yeast process for about $1 a gram.
In addition, the resources needed for the yeast process are a lot less than those needed to fertilize, water, and care for marijuana plants. The yeast process is not endangered by floods, hail, wind, fire, or other natural disasters.
Minor Cannabinoid Uses and Markets
Research is continuing for rare cannabinoids and medical uses are likely. Having an efficient way to produce these will make them more profitable to market profitably.