By Dr. Markus Roggen
This op-ed was first published in the Cannabis Industry Journal on August 03, 2017.
Demand for cannabis extracts, in particular vaping products, is at an all-time high. People want good oil, and they want to know something about the quality of it. It is therefore time to take a step back and consider the process from plant to cartridge. What is the current industry standard for cannabis extraction, what constitutes quality and where might we need to make some adjustments?
Right now, “clear” oil is hot. Customers have been led to believe that a pale gold extract is synonymous with the best possible cannabis concentrate, which is not necessarily the case. Producing a 95% pure THC extract with a translucent appearance is neither a great scientific feat nor a good representation of the whole cannabis flower. Moreover, it runs counter to the current trend of all-natural, non-processed foods and wellness products.
Interview with Megan L'Heureux for Cannabis Science and Techonology, first published January 11, 2019. It is reprinted here with modifications.
There are many factors to consider when starting an extraction method in cannabis—from flower supply and which method to use to particle size and flower to solvent ratios, among others. With all of these factors to consider, it might be hard to find a starting point. We recently spoke to leading extraction researcher Dr. Markus Roggen, Founder of Complex Biotech Discovery Ventures, about his experiences in the industry and what extraction methods he has used. Dr. Roggen also offers his insight into what to consider first in an extraction as well as his next research projects and plans for the future.
How did you get involved with cannabis extraction?
Dr. Markus Roggen: Pure serendipity! In 2014, I finished up my postdoc in physical organic chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego and was looking for what to do next when my triathlon coach introduced me to a group that needed a chemist to run their analytical laboratory for cannabis. Initially, I was hesitant to leave a classical chemical career for the still young cannabis industry. Although, I was intrigued by the research and discovery potential in the field, so I did move into a totally unknown industry and culture (for me). While I worked as a laboratory director, on the side, I was mentoring young startups at Canopy Boulder and San Diego. At one of their networking events, I was explaining the scientific fundamentals of carbon dioxide extraction (you know as you do over a good drink). The CEO of OutCo, a fully vertically integrated medical marijuana producer in San Diego, happened to be listening. He offered me the chance to join his team to put theory into practice. So, I did. I started leading the extraction and production processes in late 2016.
This article was first published as a guest column in the September 2018 issue of Cannabis Business Times.
By Dr. Markus Roggen
Cannabis extraction has a dark history of burned-down apartment buildings, exploded cabins, toxic byproducts in extracts, and oils of questionable quality. With a maturing industry that is stepping out of the shadows and into regulatory oversight, many of those dangers will be mitigated through rules and regulations, but a large burden still lies with the extraction operator.
Operators have reduced the risk of commercial cannabis extractors burning down due to compliance and the use of proven extraction practices, but that doesn’t mean one can be lackadaisical. Ignoring extraction safety can lead to the laboratory literally exploding, making you legally liable for staff injuries and potentially dooming your professional cannabis career.
Here are five tips to help ensure that no security measure is forgotten.
This article was first published by Cannabis Industry Journal on January 22, 2019.
I was wrong. And that’s a good thing! Based on all available data, I assumed that evaporating ethanol from a cannabis oil/ethanol solution would result in terpene loss. As it turns out, it doesn’t. There are so many beliefs and assumptions about cannabis: Cannabis cures cancer!1 Smoking cannabis causes cancer!2 Sativas help you sleep; Indicas make you creative!3,4 CBD is not psychoactive!5 But are these ‘facts’ backed by science? Have they been experimentally tested and validated?
Simply putting “cannabis backed by science” on your label does not solve the problem. Science is not a marketing term. It’s not even a fixed term. The practice of science is multifaceted and sometimes confusing. It evolved from the traditional model of Inductivism, where observations are used in an iterative process to refine a law/theory that can generalize such observations.6 Closely related is Empiricism, which posits that knowledge can only come from observation. Rationalism, on the other hand, believes that certain truths can be directly grasped by one’s intellect.7 In the last century, the definition of science was changed from the method by which we study something, such as Inductivism or Rationalism, and refocused on the way we explain phenomena. It states that a theory should be considered scientific if, and only if, it is falsifiable.8 All that means is that not the way we study something is what makes it scientific, but the way we explain it.
This article was first published in Cannabis Business Times on June 04, 2019. It is reprinted here with modifications – this is an earlier version of the one that appeared in the magazine.
By Dr. Allison Justice (SC Botanicals & The Hemp Mine) and Dr. Markus Roggen (Complex Biotech Discovery Ventures)
Finally, white smoke appears. When this happens high up above St Peter’s Square in Rome, Catholics around the world rejoice. A new pope has been chosen. Habemus papam! We have a pope! No more black smoke but white smoke and joy.
Cannabis connoisseurs are filled with a similar sense of divine joy when white ash is left behind in the bowl. Black ash, they believe, signifies that the plant was not flushed to remove minerals, nitrates and pesticides. White ash, in contrast, symbolizes properly flushed, dried and cured material. Sometimes the search for venerable nuggs can feel like a three-year-test. When you finally find that one nugg that satisfies your prayers, it can feel like the roof has come off and you are Gregory X.
Ash itself is a trinity, a complex mixture of charcoal, char and minerals.1 Cannabis users rejoice when ash is white, but are they worshipping false idols? What if the color of ash is not a divine sign but a serendipitous occurrence linked to secular, mundane factors?