The legalization of cannabis in 17 states (and counting) has led to a race for the cleanest, most consistent, most sustainable cannabis. As cannabis business owners seek to keep up with the demand for products that are easy and quick to absorb, free from toxins, and tailored to their needs, it’s essential to be aware of the technologies that are transforming the industry.
Laboratory testing is nothing new. However, it’s now becoming an expectation of any cannabis business that takes itself and its customers seriously. On the third-party lab certificate, consumers will look for the following information when making decisions about a product:
- Strain of cannabis (plant ID)
- Heavy metals
- Pesticides, including glyphosate
- Aerobic plate count, yeast, mold
- Salmonella, E. Coli, Staphylococcus
To avoid printing out the batch results for every packet (packaging requirements for cannabis are already extremely extensive as it is), vendors are making use of QR codes on the packaging and product page where customers can find the results for that specific batch.
Nanoemulsion is the process of breaking down cannabinoids like CBD into the tiniest-sized droplets possible. This makes it easier to mix the substance into liquids and increases its bioavailability in the body. Nanoemulsion technology is opening the door to an exciting new array of products, including:
- Encapsulated tinctures with improved absorption
- CBD- and cannabis-infused foods and beverages
- Transdermal CBD patches
- Topical cannabis lotions
The health risks of smoking marijuana are increasingly reaching the public’s consciousness, and a new wave of non-smoking users want clean ways to enjoy the benefits of cannabis. Nanoemulsion technology is one of the best ways to cater to this up-and-coming market.
Full-Spectrum Extraction Techniques
Along with breakthroughs in nanoemulsion technology, cannabis researchers are also working on methods of extraction that retain a fuller range of cannabinoids. Currently, many vendors market their extracts as “full-spectrum” and “broad-spectrum” simply because they don’t use CBD isolate.
However, the reality of most of the current extraction technologies is that cannabinoids, terpenes, and omegas are stripped away in the process—leaving a weaker and less effective product.
Gains so far in supercritical CO2 extraction avoid the use of solvents and alcohol, which is a positive step in the right direction. Now, the industry faces the challenge of developing technologies that extract as many nutrients from the plant as possible.
The Rosin Press
While the extraction of a true full-spectrum oil is still under development, the concentrate industry has found its answer. Typically, cannabis concentrates like shatter and wax are made using butane or liquefied petroleum gas. Some residues of the butane can remain and present serious health hazards when smoked or inhaled.
The rosin press—a relatively new invention—bypasses the use of solvents by extracting the resin with heat and pressure. This method of solventless extraction uses either a hydraulic or pneumatic press to push the live resin out of the trichomes. This resin then drips down greaseproof paper on the side to avoid any further heat degradation.
The result of pressing the trichomes in this way is a golden substance similar to cold honey that can be used equally well for dabbing or vaping. The terpene and cannabinoid profile is essentially the same as shatter without the use of solvents—an impressive leap forward for cannabis technology. Companies like PureCannalabs are helping cannabrands properly set up their laboratories and go solventless for the good of cannabis consumers.
Cannabis Construction Materials
Since at least the sixteenth century, the utility of hemp for fiber and building has been known to people around the world. However, the potential of hemp for modern construction is an area that’s just beginning to catch on. Newer technologies reveal that most plastic polymers as well as building materials could be replaced with cannabis and hemp. This presents several exciting opportunities:
- Unsustainable individual plastic packaging for cannabis products can be replaced with plastics made from hemp.
- Homes could be constructed almost entirely from hemp products.
- Increased demand for hemp-derived materials will increase the demand for sustainable hemp.
It’s essential to emphasize here the importance of sustainable cultivation practices for cannabis crops as well as hemp. Cannabis—including indoor cultivation—accounts for at least 1% of America’s energy expenditure or the equivalent of around 3 million cars. If hemp is to be presented as a sustainable solution, the growing techniques used for these crops must rebuild the environment rather than further deplete its resources.
The Values at the Heart of Innovation
When adopting or creating new technology to improve the production and use of cannabis, the values that influence these decisions have a large impact on eventual sales.
Yes, there will always be customers who’ll choose a product for its lower price point, no matter the cost to the environment and society. However, we’re seeing a change in the way that millennials and Gen Z make decisions. For the majority, it’s no longer about finding the strongest product at the cheapest price. Now, it’s about health, sustainability, and ethics.
To select the most appropriate technologies, consider the values that underpin your business and how these relate to your target market. This generation is willing to pay for products that are safe, sustainable, and socially responsible. With the right values and the right innovations, the cannabis industry is strategically positioned to lead the way to a healthier world.