Opportunities in Infusion and Extraction

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment’s request for a ban on marijuana-infused foods threw a brief scare into the edible industry on Monday. The proposal was walked back, but it highlights a critical issue, particularly for consumers new to edibles. The problem of controlled dosing is the specific focus of many of the companies to be represented at the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Infused Product and Extraction Symposium, to be held October 27-29, 2014, in Denver.

With edibles, as with tinctures and oils, it is now possible to produce strain-specific products with uniform chemical composition and potency because of developments in extraction and infusion technologies. These are some of the same technologies used worldwide with a variety of medicinal and aromatic plants. Cooking, please meet our dear old friend, chemistry. The science of extraction and infusion is suddenly at the heart of efforts to build a regulated, legal marijuana industry.

And therein lies the opportunity.

 

Extraction and Testing Companies

Among the speakers at next week’s meeting, will be representatives from the following companies:

Some, like CannLabs, are well known in the world of legal marijuana, others less so. All are sufficiently different to appeal to different investors. CannLabs, for example, tests for contaminants as well as potency. Eden Labs focuses on the development and manufacture of extraction equipment. CW Analytical, WAM Oil, Organa Labs and Mahatma Concentrates are cannabis-specific. Waters Technologies and ProVerde Laboratories are broader based. As its name suggests, ProVerde prides itself an environmentally-friendly approach.

These companies share a sophisticated approach to testing and extraction designed to produce a safer product, free of contaminants such as mold or butane. It is a far cry from anything that can be produced using coffee filters, Everclear and an eyedropper.

 

Infusion

Infusion is the other side of the story, where THC and other cannabinoids become chocolates or sodas or pills. Chemistry, please meet cooking. Speakers from the consumer side at the Infused Product and Extraction Symposium will include:

Cheffettes also specializes in infused treats, and Executive Chef Molly Poiset is a frequent contributor to this site.

Challenges with infused products include food preparation techniques. Some oils lose their potency at high cooking temperatures and may spoil if stored above 41 degrees.

Somewhat more acute is the problem of concentration and labeling. Recent regulatory changes in Colorado attempt to address this problem mandating, for example, that, individually packaged products  not exceed 100 milligrams of THC. That is still ten times the recommended recreational dose, so further changes may be in the offing.  In the meantime, some manufacturers have taken to scoring edibles into individual doses, or producing lower potency products. Public media campaigns advise novice consumers to “start low and go slow.”

These are predictable growing pains in a new industry. The development of adequate food safety regulations is not an insurmountable barrier.  As the quick demise of the Colorado Department of Health and Environment’s attempt to ban edibles shows, there really is no appetite to roll back legalization. The science of clean extraction makes it possible to produce consistent and wholesome products, and many investors see opportunities on both the extraction and infusion sides of the equation.

 

 

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