How to Make Common Cannabis Derivatives

How to Make Common Cannabis Derivatives

Cannabis Extraction & Refinement Process Overview

Making cannabis and hemp derivatives is an art, and, like all art forms, it takes many years of direct hands-on experience to master. To expedite your journey towards extraction mastery our in-house experts have offered up their extraction expertise. In this guide we’ll demystify how to make common derivatives by outlining all of the steps necessary to perfect the extraction and refinement processes.

(*Note, for the purposes of this guide we have broadly used the term “derivative” to describe all of the various forms of outputs and end-products that can be extracted and refined from the cannabis and hemp plant in either liquid or solid form.)

This overview covers the entire Cannabis Derivative Journey: we’ll explore all the different methods of cannabis extraction, forms of derivatives, various end-products and their current market potential.

Why Extract CBD, THC, and other ‘Minor’ Cannabinoids?

Even in the face of a pandemic, the legal cannabis and hemp derivative market is growing. If anything, COVID-19 has made the market more valuable as  people seek out ways to escape from the hellscape that is 2020. The inclusion of cannabis businesses as essential businesses in many states indicate how much public opinion has changed about cannabis in the last few years. It’s only a matter of time until we reach full national legalization for all cannabis derived products. Federal legalization and  continued product innovation promise a future in which mainstream retail channels adapt and embrace distribution and sale of cannabis- and hemp-derived products. And you’ll want to be ready to sell when they do.

The unprecedented growth of the cannabis industry and its all-but-certain Federal legalization presents a significant business opportunity for those willing to capitalize on it. Here’s why you should be one of those people:

  1. There is growing consumer demand for more sophisticated administration methods and expanding end-product offerings focused on health benefits: As consumers become more educated about the health, wellness, and recreational benefits of CBD—and THC—they’re demanding a wider scope of administration methods beyond simply smoking and vaping. In fact, a recent survey of  3,506 people showed that, “they tended to favor CBD tinctures and topicals over traditional modes of taking cannabis, i.e. smoking and edibles.”
  2. Full federal legalization is slow but inevitable: While it’s true that full federal legalization by 2022 is a long shot, it’s not impossible. David Klein, the new CEO of Canopy Growth believes that it could happen. It’s more likely that the federal government will legalize medical marijuana  by 2022, and take a few more years to legalize recreational use. State-level legalization is hitting a critical mass  and that momentum could quickly prompt Federal change. Fingers crossed.
  3. New states opening up: Sharp sales increases in recently launched medical marijuana programs—as well as continued gains in adult-use markets—are expected to fuel much of the industry’s growth over the coming years. 11 states (plus D.C.) that have legalized cannabis for recreational purposes, and 30 have done so for medical purposes. New markets in Florida, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania are booming. Those gains, plus the legalization of adult-use, are more than offsetting lost medical sales in markets like Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan. State-level legalization is creating new revenue streams that benefit their constituencies at large.
  5. The hemp CBD market is booming and becoming mainstream: The US CBD market grew by 706% in 2019. Global Market Insights, Inc. has recently added a new report on the cannabidiol (CBD) market which estimates the global market valuation for cannabidiol will surpass $89 billion by 2026. Many countries have legalized the growing of hemp but not marijuana, opening the way for the innovation of a wide variety of CBD end-products (from bath bombs to herbal teas to gummy bears). The relative ease with which hemp-derived CBD can be produced and distributed has driven the sector’s massive growth.

Despite the  setbacks posed by a global pandemic, the US and global cannabis and CBD markets have continued to flourish. How, then, should cannabis processors keep up with consumer demand for the many derivatives that this wonderfully complex plant can produce? How do we ensure that our systems and technologies can stay on pace as the market evolves?

The short answer to these questions is to stay nimble and agile as this burgeoning–yet volatile–new industry rises out of the underground. That means being open to new multivarious cannabinoid derivative forms so you can respond to market shifts and consumer demands.

What is a Cannabis “Derivative”?

Before diving into the extraction process itself, let’s take a step back for a moment and define what we mean by the word “derivative”. 

Most cannabis derivatives contain the two “major” cannabinoids:

  • THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) is an intoxicating derivative that drives recreational (or “adult”) use. It is also used widely for medicinal purposes.
  • CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-intoxicating derivative more popularly used for medicinal and wellness purposes.

But there are a whole host of “minor” cannabinoids that are worth exploring as consumers become more sophisticated. Minor cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN, THCV, and THCA are generating a lot of interest in the marketplace. Not only are producers hunting for the next uber-popular cannabinoid, but also new studies are showing significant health benefits from these lesser known cannabinoids.

Other non-cannabinoid derivatives from the cannabis plant include desirables such as flavonoids, and terpenes, as well as “undesirable” compounds such as chlorophyll.

Terpenes are the unique compounds that give cannabis end-products their distinctive flavor and aroma ‘notes’ and are thought to contribute to psychological effects.

For the purposes of this guide we have broadly used the term “derivative” to encompass all of the varied and different concentrates, outputs, and end-product forms derived from the cannabis plant–in either liquid or solid form. This includes hemp, which is simply a cannabis plant that produces ≤0.3% THC.

Common Cannabis Derivatives and How to Make Them

What follows is an overview of the entire cannabis derivative journey; from pre-processing, through the primary stages of extraction and into further stages of refinement. This overview is by no means exhaustive but will provide you with a comprehensive overview of resulting outputs and final end-products–including their colloquial names by which they’re most well-known to consumers.

Introducing The CanDer Journey: The Cannabis Derivative Guide

To illustrate the stages of the Cannabis Extraction and Refinement Process we created The CanDer Journey™ – The Cannabis Derivative Guide. The Guide illustrates each stage of the process, its accompanying concentration range, common derivatives, and estimated market size per end-product application.

Download the Cannabis Derivative Diagram