Cannabis Prohibition and the Evolution of Extraction Technologies

Cannabis Prohibition and the Evolution of Extraction Technologies

Pixabay / Republica / CC0 Public Domain

Cannabis prohibition is remarkably similar to the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s. On March 7, 2017, at the California Cannabis Business Expo California Cannabis Business Expo in San Diego, Dr. Joshua Hartsel discussed the tremendous opportunity opening up in the California market in regards to extracts and other concentrate products.

Hartsel, the CEO and co-founder of Speakeasy 710, a California-based cannabis oil company, looked to the history of alcohol to discuss extraction technologies used during prohibition in the 1920s, and how unsafe practices were what really caused the government to point a finger at alcohol.

“People were dying. People were getting sick. Certainly the government was pointing to alcohol being the reason for that,” Hartsel told the crowd. The real problem, Hartsel explained, was that prohibition had actually caused the development of unsafe practices. When it comes to cannabis, Hartsel suggests extractors adopt safe practices now so the industry doesn’t repeat alcohol’s mistake.

With a Ph.D. in Medicinal Organic Chemistry from Virginia Tech, Hartsel knows the ins-and-outs of extraction. He covered multiple extraction techniques, including non-chemical extraction and liquid solvent extraction. Non-chemical extraction techniques include the use of a rosin press, dry sifting or ice water extraction, and liquid solvent extractions require high energy distillers, he explained.

Hartsel acknowledged that there have been major improvements in regards to safe extraction methods since the prohibition of alcohol, but he warned the audience not to forget the past. Meanwhile, Hartsel sees a future for cannabis that includes the creation of cell culture by way of molecular cloning techniques, as well as the creation of new non-flammable and safe selective solvents.

Safe and consistent medicine is the result of professional companies using modern scientific methods and quality assurance processes. “We don’t want to let those things happen in this industry where we have contaminated products introduced to patients with compromised immune systems. It’s very important that we have that level of ethics in this industry moving forward.”

Amanda Taylor was the editorial assistant for Marijuana Industry News from September 2016 through February 2018. She earned a BA in English and an MA in Writing from Coastal Carolina University.

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