Cleaning Up Cannabis Extraction – Obstacles Facing the Cannabis Industry, and How We Can Overcome Them Together (Sponsored)
Cannabis.net recently sat down with Albert Iannantuono, CEO of extractX, to talk about recent innovations in the cannabis extraction industry.
Tell us a little about what’s going on in the extraction industry today.
The industry is booming right now. We’re seeing a global revolution – with people putting a big emphasis on pharma-based CBD and THC products. The mainstream population around the world is starting to embrace the benefits and positive health effects of CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids.
This has led to innovation and healthy competition in the world of hemp and cannabis, with new players in cultivation, product formulation, extraction, and other supporting industries constantly emerging. It’s never been a more exciting time to be involved in the cannabis and hemp industry.
What are some of the opportunities and obstacles currently facing the hemp and cannabis extraction industry?
The root of all the opportunities in this industry is the mainstream adoption of cannabis products as a wave of regulatory change sweeps the globe. The use of these products is becoming common practice for all types of consumers, and demand is requiring that we innovate towards new and improved products.
One of the biggest obstacles facing the industry as a whole is simply how new it is and a re-education of the true effects of the cannabis plant. In many countries, most of these products were legalized just a few years ago, with many more jurisdictions still in the process of legalizing hemp and cannabis use, whether only medicinally, or including recreationally as well.
The market in Thailand is a perfect example. There’s a rapidly growing demand for legal, medical-grade CBD products, but a shortage of experts in the fields of extraction, cultivation, etc. We’ve been able to help our partner as they install a lab that meets the regulatory requirements of the Thai FDA.
While it is definitely and opportunity, I consider the rapidly-increasing demand for CBD and THC products to be an obstacle as well, especially when examined through the lens of the environmental impacts of the cannabis extraction process as certain processes contribute to green-house gas (GHG) emissions.
Why did you decide to enter the cannabis extraction industry and capitalize on this global opportunity?
I’ve been in the industry a while, however it wasn’t until my father told me he was using CBD products to treat a chronic injury that I realized just how important these sweeping regulatory changes will be for the world. Being located in Canada, I was afforded the opportunity to start trying these CBD products myself when I was coping with an injury too and after doing an informal survey of some friends and family, I found that quite a high percentage of them were trying out cannabis products and were experiencing real benefits from them.
These experiences helped me to immediately see the value and potential in our extractX mobile lab technology, especially when considering the progress being made to legalize medical and recreational products in the United States and around the globe.
Why do you consider the globally increasing demand for CBD and THC products an obstacle for the extraction industry?
People are flooding to this new industry from all kinds of backgrounds, and not all their motives are the same. I think the sheer amount of money on the table is an obstacle for the industry, as regulators are still finding ways to properly address issues like quality control, labelling compliance, production efficiency, environmental regulations, etc. We come from a more mature market in Canada and we feel like we are exporting our expertise around the world. The more the demand increases, the more pressure there is to meet that demand, and we all have to be focused on doing it right and helping our partners avoid short-term traps and pitfalls. We’re all about building long-term and sustainable partnerships.
What extraction method is the most environmentally conscious?
There are different ways to extract CBD and THC distillate from hemp or cannabis biomass. The process, technology, and equipment differ depending on the solvent being used. Butane (BHO), supercritical CO2, and ethanol are commonly used solvents. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages, especially depending on the scale of production at that particular lab.
We chose a closed-loop ethanol extraction process in our mobile extraction labs for a few reasons. The first is that it supported our goal of creating a compact, modular lab that is fully mobile and can be placed fully-built within a partner’s facility. The second is that we found it to be a much more environmentally conscious method. In comparison to the supercritical CO2 method, for example, ethanol extraction is considerably more environmentally responsible as the ethanol can be recovered and reused across multiple batches. The CO2 method pumps the used carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere, and requires 6-10 extractors to meet the same production capacity as 1 ethanol extractor, making it much less efficient than alternative processes in our application and emitting CO2 in the process.
Visit extractX for a sneak peek inside one of their cannabis extraction labs.
What’s next for extractX?
Our goal is to keep bringing our expertise and experience in building highly-efficient and compact extraction labs to the industry. Our team understands that we’re all in this together, and that we need to work together as an industry to continue to improve both the products, and our processes for developing those products. We have a unique opportunity to help a lot of people – simplifying lab construction for cultivators and product formulators, extracting the highest-quality distillate which leads to better consumer products, and constantly improving the efficiency of our labs to benefit the environment. We truly believe that strong partnerships are the future of the cannabis and hemp industry.
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This post was a sponsored and Cannabis.net received compensation as a publisher.