How is CBD produced: from plant to product


This article by Zora Degrandpré was originally published on Cannabis and technology today and appears here with permission.

Have you ever wondered how exactly your CBD product is made? Well, here you can watch part of the process in a video tour of the Green Roads facility in Florida. You can watch a video showing how Green Roads CBD Cream is produced from start to finish. Our interviewer, Kristin, gives us a step-by-step tour of the Green Roads manufacturing plant.

In the last few years, CBD has exploded in the market. There is still a lot that we all need to know when choosing which brand of CBD to use. One of those things is how, exactly, is your CBD oil produced ?.

Here is a general overview of this process.

Cultivation and harvest

First, someone has to grow the hemp! Remember, hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, so it’s not intoxicating (it won’t get you “high”). Hemp grows fairly quickly and ideally it should be grown without pesticides, organically and sustainably. Hemp is rich in biomass and can be used to return nutrients to the soil, so sustainable growth is “built in” to some extent. Obtaining organic certification is a long and expensive process. Currently, many growers can use organic methods, but have not yet received official “Organic” certification from the USDA.

Then the hemp flower is harvested – but even before harvest it is tested to make sure the THC levels are

The flowers of the hemp plant have the highest levels of CBD – so these flowers, containing the trichomes (hair-shaped projections of the flowers that contain resin glands) are harvested, tested and dried (air dried). ) for 3-4 weeks. The dried flowers are now ready for extraction – the process that “pulls” the CBD (along with other cannabinoids and terpenes) from the dried flower.

The Green Roads video does not explore the cultivation and harvesting of hemp, but at Green Roads all industrial hemp is grown in the United States on registered farms and grows hemp that both bears certificates of origin. (CoO) and certificates of analysis (CoA). [1]

Extraction is a physicochemical process based on the physical and chemical characteristics of everything you extract. In the world of CBD, this usually means ethanol or CO 2 extraction processes as well as some form of distillation.

During the ethanol extraction, the dried plant is placed in an alcohol solution and soaked for some time. CBD, other cannabinoids, and terpenes dissolve in ethanol, leaving fibrous plant material behind.

CO2 extraction uses low temperatures to extract CBD (along with other plant constituents) and requires expensive equipment, but it produces a very pure end product.

Often the first extraction is followed by a fractional distillation process based on the differences in boiling points of various cannabinoids and terpenes. The final product here is often a very thick oil or even a solid depending on the process used. (In the Green Roads video, “CBD distillate” is a solid yellow waxy mass.) Other distillates may be more liquid and darker. The distillate contains very high concentrations (potencies) of CBD, which makes it easy to dilute it to the levels required in various formulations, whether these formulations consist of oils, tinctures, capsules, capsules or in topical form.

An additional fractionation or distillation step can be used to remove any residual THC, changing the oil from a ‘full spectrum’ CBD to a ‘broad spectrum’ CBD. Terpenes can also be removed through several stages of distillation, providing pure CBD. CBD isolate can be obtained by drying these pure fractions of CBD oils. By the way, if the product is intended to be “zero THC” it ​​can go through even more extraction and distillation steps.

Again, you won’t see the mining process in this video from Green Roads, but according to their website, all raw materials come from “facilities that use the most advanced mining technologies, including CO2 extraction.[1] The video includes a preview of the solid and yellow full spectrum CBD distillate which is then turned into a CBD cream as we watch.

Making CBD oils

Now comes the mixing of the CBD distillate according to the formulation used by each company or brand. (This is where the Green Roads video begins although the first scenes begin at the end of the process – the packaging and labeling site)

CBD oils can be produced by diluting the highly concentrated CBD distillate with carrier oils and sometimes additional flavors or ingredients. These ingredients can be other herbs like passionflower or valerian root if the oil is intended to help people sleep or another herb like orange oil for an energy boost, or amino acids. like L-theanine to help fall asleep more easily. However, some CBD companies go the other way: they can use CBD isolates (pure CBD in solid form) and add them to carrier oils, flavors, or other ingredients. Carrier oils can include coconut oils (also known as MCT for medium chain triglycerides), hemp seed oil, grape seed, or other oils. Why? Firstly because CBD easily dissolves in oils and secondly, because it is believed that fatty oils can improve the absorption and bioavailability of CBD. Oils like orange or lemon oils are sometimes used to “cover” the “hemp” taste of pure CBD oils.

Concentrated distillate (or CBD isolate) can also be combined with various base creams, balms, and lotions for topical products. Or — it can be put into capsules as an oil or in capsules as a dried product. In the Green Roads video the raw concentrated distillate is a solid yellow waxy substance and in the video you will watch the production of a topical cream.

The video starts at this point and then starts taking the full spectrum CBD distillate and using it to make a cream. After the initial scenes, you’ll see Kristin and Megan wearing full lab gear, including lab coats, masks, hairnets (we don’t see the footies, but they’re there!). contaminated.

The person in the background mixes the raw material according to the Green Roads formulation (recipe) to make a CBD cream. It is gently heated and mixed with a carrier oil. Looking at the topical creams from Green Roads, it could be the muscle and joint cream, which contains lavender, cucumber and avocado oil extracts (as well as vitamin E); pain relief cream, which contains avocado oil, vitamin E and eucalyptus oil; or the skin relief cream which contains safflower oil, avocado oil and lavender oil. We don’t know which one, but the point is that each cream has its own formulation or recipe with different total amounts of CBD – and this step is where all the specific ingredients are added based on the pharmacist’s formulation.

Packing and testing

The video begins and ends in the area where the final product – a CBD cream – is packaged, securely sealed, labeled, cleared, and quarantined – and where copies of that batch are sent for third-party testing. The whole process is automated, but real people are heavily involved throughout the process, some to make the process work and others to verify and certify this process. Green Roads takes quality control (QC) seriously!

Depending on the type of product, it will be packaged in glass or plastic bottles and containers, labeled with the total potency (concentration) and list of ingredients along with instructions for use and other information. Each product is assigned a specific and unique lot number so that it can be tracked.

A few final points

Another thing to check when shopping for CBD products is whether the products you are looking at are made in a GMP facility. The installation in the Green Roads video is a GMP compliant installation.

GMP stands for “Good Manufacturing Practices” which is a set of regulations requiring manufacturers and processors of products “to take proactive steps to ensure that their products are safe, pure and effective”.[2] The regulations followed are from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and include accurate record keeping, adherence to sanitation and hygiene guidelines, equipment maintenance and accuracy, qualifications required for personnel, process validation and testing, and consumer complaints. The aim of GMP is to provide consumers with pure, precisely quantified and tested products of high quality.[3] In a GMP facility, all employees and visitors should be fully clothed, masked, netting, and footwear covered so that no contaminants are accidentally introduced into the product. Green Roads’ facility is GMP certified, which is why everyone wears lab coats and other protective gear.

[1] https://greenroads.com/how-our-cbd-is-made

[2] https://ispe.org/initiatives/regulatory-resources/gmp/what-is-gmp

[3] https://www.fda.gov/drugs/pharmaceutical-quality-resources/current-good-manufacturing-practice-cgmp-regulations


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